Tuesday, July 28, 2009


This is another in my series of 60's classic vinyl, this album came out in 1965 and it had an enormous influence on me. The band comprised Paul Butterfield on harmonica, Elvin Bishop and Mike Bloomfield on guitars, Mark Naftalin on keyboards, Jerome Arnold on bass and Sam Lay on drums. The psychedelic  revolution of the late 1960s had several sources, but probably the most important was electric blues.  Gradually, electric blues evolved into psychedelic rock and East West was one of the seminal albums that led and marked that transition. The Butterfield Blues Band started out as a straight-ahead Chicago electric blues band and there are several traditional electric blues numbers on this album  but there are also several tracks that stretch the boundaries of the blues genre. The band was remarkable for the work of the two great soloists plus Paul Butterfield was an outstanding harmonica player. Unlike a lot of 1960s blues rock musicians, Butterfield, Bishop and Bloomfield still sound fresh and unique today. In particular, Bloomfield's solos on "Work Song", and "East West" have a modal quality unlike any of the other blues rock guitar players of his era and the contrast between Bloomfield's complex droning runs and  Elvin Bishop's more traditonal lick-based solos is stunning.

 There was another album a couple of years later with a similar line up and sound, that was Super Session with Al Kooper, Steven Stills, Mike Bloomfield, that was one of the earliest 'super group' bands: Kooper and Bloomfield had both toured with and played in Dylan's Highway 61 album  band a couple of years earlier which is where I developed a love of their style of playing.


Marconius7 said...

Great album! My brother, who was a blues fan, had the album. His garage band put lyrics to Work Song and performed it as such. They called it Sing Sing and it was about the infamous prison.

Butterfield had a huge influence on the blues scene back in the sixties.

CaroleBristol said...

Yes, a teriffic album and Supersession is also fantastic. I've been going back to that one for decades.

Mike Bloomfield was a great blues guitarist as well as a brilliant band member with Bob Dylan.

tincanman said...

Someone introduced me to Bloomfield's work ages ago and I still think he was one of the greats.

I used to have all the Butterfield albums, and always favoured Pigboy Crabshaw. But I agree this was influential - I think drugs took people too far with alot of the psych music, but then thats experimentation innit. Some is good, some doesn't work out.

Dangerpuss said...

My older brother had this and with the rest of his collection, he's responsible for sparking my lifelong love of the blues. Brilliant album and I agree with Carole about Supersession too.

glasshalfempty said...

Good call, GF. I was VERY young when it came out, y'unnerstand, but I thought it was fantastic, and played it incessantly. East West itself was an eye-opener for it's length as well as its virtuosity and originality (I think it pre-dated the 12 min Visions of Johanna, which was a minute shorter than EW). It also seemed to set the scene for the long live rock jams so beloved of the Dead and others. I think the album is a contender for the overused 'seminal' . As Tin implies, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band put out some rubbish at times, but this was sure a high water mark. One of my abiding memories is seeing them at Filmore West in '68. Tho' they didn't play East West, as I recall.

glasshalfempty said...
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