Even though the Ford Blues Band has never had a problem putting across mediocre material, songwriting is not one of the outfit’s strong points. With successful studio albums covering both Michael Bloomfield and his old boss Paul Butterfield already in Ford Blues Band’s catalog, the group plays to its strengths with a live recording, cherrypicking the best songs from both and adding the raw energy that live concerts typically generate. The result is a crackling disc that is not surprisingly a showcase for guitarists Robben Ford, Chris Cain and Volker Strifler as well as harmonica ace Andy Just. Despite liner notes that frustratingly don’t specify which of the three guitarists plays lead on the tracks — it only states which side of the speakers the musician is relegated to, which can be confusing — or the dates of the recordings, this is a rollicking performance as the Ford Blues Band charges through the songs with passion and energy. Out of the eight tracks, only six pertain directly to the titular stars, with “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (aping a version by Butterfield) and a ten minute, slow blues workout “Blues for MB” a bit on the generic side. The performances of these are hot, but it does detract slightly from the concept and there were plenty of other tunes more directly associated with the musicians that could have been chosen. Regardless, there are too few bands that even attempt to perform Butterfield’s classic “East West” instrumental (here titled “East/West Redux”) so even if, at only nine minutes, this is on the short side (the original ran 13), it’s a thrilling reminder of the groundbreaking aspects of Butterfield and Bloomfield in their prime. The group raids the Electric Flag catalog for its Bloomfield covers of “Killing Floor” and “Groovin’ Is Easy” and adds a small horn section to replicate the originals. Their version of Bloomfield’s obscure “Peter’s Trip” also prominently employs sax and trumpet for a sort of Blood, Sweat & Tears approach. It is the most unusual and least bluesy selection here. Robben Ford’s vocals throughout are serviceable at best, but it’s his guitar that really sizzles, especially on the seven-minute version of “I Got a Mind to Give Up Living.” While none of this will make fans forget the originals, it’s a consistently enjoyable and well-recorded effort and the band’s hearts were obviously in it. Hopefully this will inspire some new listeners to check out the sources.