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.