Although Sweet Child is usually cited as the group's high-water mark, Basket of Light finds them at their most progressive and exciting. Highlights of this album – which actually reached the Top Five in the U.K. – include the buzzing jazz dynamics of "Light Flight," their moving rendition of the traditional folk song "Once I Had a Sweetheart," their reinvention of the girl group smash "Sally Go Round the Roses," and "Springtime Promises," one of their finest original tunes.
Following on from the hard-hitting blues of their debut album, Plays On caught the Climax Chicago Blues Band in somewhat transitional waters, testing any number of different musical styles, but never really setting on any. Certainly the funk thump that characterized their better later work was still an idea waiting to be explored, as the group instead fluttered between the scurrying jazz of the opening "Flight," the psychedelic tinge of "Hey Baby, Everything's Gonna Be Alright Yeh Yeh Yeh," the semi-Santana fusion of "Cubano Chant," and the heavy blues of "So Many Roads," all interrupted by "Mum's the Word," a dynamic Moog sequence that builds out of the theme from 2001, and then freefalls into total space rock.
On two days in 1969, pianist Phineas Newborn recorded enough material for two albums (the other is titled Harlem Blues), which is fortunate because these were his only recordings of the 1965-73 period. Newborn, who is joined by bassist Ray Brown and drummer Elvin Jones, performs a blues and bop set which includes such tunes as "Rough Ridin'," "He's a Real Gone Guy," "Little Niles" and his own "Brentwood Blues." The emphasis generally is on vintage tunes, and Newborn shows throughout that he was still very much in his musical prime.