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East-West CD

4.8 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews

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Audio CD, CD, December 10, 2008
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Product Description

One of the greatest guitar albums of all time and a real '60s classic, with Elvin Bishop and Mike Bloomfield trading licks on the mind-bending title cut in particular.

If the Butterfield Blues Band's groundbreaking debut earned the respect of the group's elder influences, this one won over (and guided) the blues boys' psychedelic peers. Highlighted by the 13-minute-plus title track (an Eastern-influenced jam cowritten by guitarist Mike Bloomfield), East-West stretches the boundaries of the blues. It would prod many lesser groups to explore, with generally dreary results, interminable free-flight explorations. But while East-West and a cover of jazzman Cannonball Adderly's "Work Song" ventured in new directions, Paul Butterfield and company remained rooted in solid Chicago blues. East West presents the best of both worlds. --Steve Stolder
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 10, 2008)
  • Original Release Date: December 10, 2008
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Elektra / Wea
  • ASIN: B000002GZ3
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,467 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
There are many albums which have introduced a new combined style of music to the masses (e.g. "Are You Experienced", "Sargent Peppers", "Johnny Winter" and "Texas Flood" are some). This set was way ahead of its time. The Butterfield Blues Band had made a name for itself on their first, self-titled, LP as great exponents of the revived Blues Power. The edge this band had was, say unlike Canned Heat, they had two Black musicians from Howlin Wolf's band. Sam Lay, the drummer, is still considered to be one the best Chicago Blues drummers ever and bassist Jerome Arnold. This lineup was impressive. Unlike John Mayall, whose album fired interest in the Blues from the far side of the Atlantic with its pre-Hendrix like overdriven sound and up front guitar. However, the PBBB had people from Chicago, the home of urban blues, who had grown up and played with all the greats. Butterfield, originally a flutist, is probably, along with Charlie Musselwhite, the greatest ever white harp player-his style of single note playing (listen to the record) is very unique and gives it a true horn sound. He had met Elvin Bishop at the University of Chicago and started jamming. Bishop, a native Oklahoman, was a Blues fanatic from the start. He played traditional blues styles on his Gibson 335 in the Freddie King, Eddie Taylor, Luther Tucker and Otis Rush tradition.

Mike Bloomfield, whose father owned a club in Chicago, had only been playing about 10 years when he made this record. He played jazz, blues and fingerpicking styles well. Mike took up slide on a Fender Telecaster and became known around town for his fabluous technqiue-similar to Elmore James. He was hired to play slide in the initial album on "Shake Your Moneymaker" and joined the band.
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Format: Audio CD
By now it seems like everything in music has been tried and done - or overdone - and most of it badly. But back in 1966 when this album debuted, it was nothing less than astonishing. A mixed-race band? A white guy singing blues like nobody's business? A Jewish kid and a southern farmboy sounding like Robert Johnson on guitars? None of us had heard anything quite like it and it gave me, a 15-year-old rock&roll wannabee guitar player, something to focus on.
Right out of the chute, this is a strong album. Opening with "Walking Blues", the BBB struts their stuff with strong vocals, soulful harmonica, and wicked guitar. "I've Got a Mind to Give up Living" was most people's first taste of what Michael Bloomfield could do - simply a stunning blues solo to cap off a great twelve-bar blues.
The album highlight, in my opinion, is their rendition of "The Work Song". Always a great jam song, they carried it to new heights. Bloomfield plays a dizzying guitar solo for 4 verses; Butterfield smokes 2 verses on his harp; Mark Naftalin follows with an understated organ solo; Elvin Bishop gets down & dirty for 4 verses. Then it really gets good; trading off every 2 bars, the musicians rotate for a few verses, each time upping the ante on each other as the song intensifies before resolving into a final melody verse. Whatta song!!!
Noteworthy on side 2 is Elvin Bishop's singing and playing on the sultry "Never Say No". Who knew he could sing?
Finally, the album culminates with the title song "East-West", one of those 60's long-songs which were oftentimes wretched excess, but this one keeps your interest. For 5 minutes or so, guitar and harmonica imitate an Indian raga in a slowly building crescendo.
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Format: Audio CD
A lot of bands from the 60s are making semi-comebacks these days through reissues of their albums and critical reappraisal, but quite frankly not many of them were as good as the Butterfield Blues Band. It's a complete mystery to me why Eric Clapton's early work is held in such reverence when it so obviously pales in comparison with what Mike Bloomfield did with the Butterfield Band.
"East/West" was the Butterfield Blues Band's masterpiece. They had already shown on their first album that they had a definite command of the Chicago blues idiom. Here, they open up and branch out without losing the edge and drive of their first recording. The two long workouts, "Work Song" and "East-West," are so far ahead of what anyone else in rock was doing (including the Beatles) that it isn't even funny. This was recorded in 1966, when most bands, if they played the blues at all, were thrashing around doing impersonations of British musicians impersonating the styles of American musicians. In 1966 it was unheard of to have extended solos unless you were playing jazz, and even then you could expect to be razzed by people with short attention spans.
On "East/West," the Butterfield Blues Band cheerfully dispenses with most of the reigning thou-shalt-nots of their time and proceeds to kick down the walls. This is a trend-setting recording that had more impact than people are willing to acknowledge, and it still rewards the listener. A lot of bands stole liberally from this album and have never paid back their debts. Don't you owe it to yourself to check it out and get the real stuff straight from the source?
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