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83 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Paul Butterfield Blues Band Masterpiece
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...
Published on April 14, 2005 by Perry Celestino

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75 of 94 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars YOU'RE BUYING THE WRONG CD!
Yes, this is the great PBBB's 2nd album, but it's not the CD you should be buying.

This domestic CD was released in 1990 and has never been remastered.

The import 2CD version of this title (backed with the PBBB's 1st album) is the one to get. It was remastered by Bob Irwin in 2001.

Ditto for "Pigboy Crabshaw" & "In My Own Dream"; the 2004...
Published on November 2, 2004 by BOB


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83 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Paul Butterfield Blues Band Masterpiece, April 14, 2005
By 
Perry Celestino (Tahmoor, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: East-West (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. (However, he was in and out the whole time-I saw the PBBB several times growing up in NY and Bloomfield was never in the line up). On East-West Bloomfield switched to the Gibson Les Paul (Like Clapton) and history was made. His lines are clear and many of his runs are virtually seamless. And amazing effort-one he himself never duplicated- like Eric Clapton on the Bluesbreakers first LP. Mark Naftalin does a great job on the keyboards. And Jerome Arnold plays bass with soul (especially notice his work on "The Work Song" similar to Duck Dunn of the MGs).

This band was interracial, a great thing for the Blues Revival that they helped start (Like SRV in the 1980s). They were the Blues Booker T and the MGs. This set combines all genres of music but basically shows the world what Willie Dixon always said "The Blues is the Roots, Everything else is the Fruits!". They do impressive and updated (at the time) versions of many types of tunes. "Walking Blues" is of course a Robert Johnson tune and was probably done because Clapton had done "Ramblin On My Mind" on the Mayall LP. "Mary, Mary" was a tune by the Monkees!!!!!!Can you believe it!

"I Got A Mind To Give Up Living" was a B.B. King tune (redone many times with many different titles). Which to me always has been the highlight of the record. It's a blues, but a new wave type of feel and arrangement. Butterfield sings, but plays no harp! Bloomfield produced his best ever blues solos- slightly understated and perfect, especially the intro. "Two Trains Running" has a funky feel and is nothing like Muddy Waters original or the Danny Kalb and the Blues Project's slow version on "Projections". This one rocks and the intro to the guitar solo is fantastic with its tension and build up.

The title track is no less interesting. It featured ragas from India with a basic jazz background. Bloomfield and Butterfield's playing is fantastic and highly original. This was the start of the Grateful Dead style psychedelic rock that came in the late 60s. (I can remember playing in bands in 1967 where we did "Gloria" and "Light My Fire" for a half hour each!!!) This track was 13 minutes long and a milestone for the time- the Door's The End was 11 minutes!

The Work Song is a powerful jazz-fusion number that has Bloomfield's best solos ever. This was someone at the height of their creative powers. The whole tune is solid and explores the jazz potential of the basic blues pentatonic scale. I feel this was Butterfield's instrumental masterpiece.

It is unfortunate that the Blues gave way to soul and country in the 1970s. Butterfield's subsequent work (although some was excellent) never sold well (either did John Mayall's as well). Butterfield and Bloomfield had drug addictions which ultimately killed them both. Bishop continues to play and had chart success in the seventies. Naftalin played with Otis Rush and others and Sam Lay is still a Chicago institution (see him on the Howlin Wolf DVD and The Godfathers and Sons DVD in the Blues series, 2003).

This is an essential recording in the history of American Music and should be in everyone's collection.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars East-West is a guitar Mecca, February 20, 2004
This review is from: East-West (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. Sudden break, and the music becomes western, muted, and diatonic scale until once again transitioning to the final east-west blend. Hard to describe -- by the CD and hear it yourself.
While "East West" wasn't on the top-10 decade list for sales, it represented a watershed for pop music -- more maturity, better musicianship, more exploration, more successful blending of other genres.
If you're a blues fan, an Alan Lomax enthusiast, or a student of the 60s progression, this album is a must. Enjoy.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic band, classic record, what else do you need?, June 5, 2000
This review is from: East-West (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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75 of 94 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars YOU'RE BUYING THE WRONG CD!, November 2, 2004
By 
BOB (LOS ANGELES, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: East-West (Audio CD)
Yes, this is the great PBBB's 2nd album, but it's not the CD you should be buying.

This domestic CD was released in 1990 and has never been remastered.

The import 2CD version of this title (backed with the PBBB's 1st album) is the one to get. It was remastered by Bob Irwin in 2001.

Ditto for "Pigboy Crabshaw" & "In My Own Dream"; the 2004 import 2CD is also remastered (and sounds incredible) and the domestic CD's are not.

Why WEA and Elektra have not made these four remasters available domestically is a mystery.

Don't waste your money on these inferior versions: Get the imports!

Link to the import remastered Paul Butterfield Blues Band/East West
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars East/West Is Ground Breaking, September 27, 2003
By 
Gavin B. (St. Louis MO) - See all my reviews
This review is from: East-West (Audio CD)
Few white blues players have been able to transcend the traditional notion that blues is a music that is based on the shared experiences of African Americans. Authenticity equals credibility in the minds of most blues enthusiasts. It's a powerful argument; and few white performers have been able perform the blues without inviting comparisons to the original African American blues masters. Paul Butterfield never invited comparisions because he demanded that listeners accept him on his own terms as an artist, and even the old blues masters could not deny Butterfield's prodigious talents and his inspired performances. The Butterfield Blues Band was one of those rare performing ensembles that could literally send chills down your spine on the sheer force of charisma. Butterfield was "authentic" because he refused to accept the stereotypes of white blues performers and his passion and magnetism changed the rules about who can, and cannot play, authentic blues. When Butterfield played his turbo-charged version of "Walking Blues", it was pointless to debate the merits the Robert Johnson original, because the Butterfield treatment of "Walking Blues" is so electrifying, that the racial identity of the singer is a moot point.
It was almost serendipity that Michael Bloomfield ended up in the same band with Butterfield. There really wasn't room enough in the same band two performers with such monumental talents and unshakable opinions of music. Bloomfield was a Columbia records studio musician and a budding guitar prodigy, when it was suggested that Bloomfield be added to the band, to deepen the band's recording sound. Butterfield reluctantly accepted and it began a turbulent partnership in which the two musical wunderkinds circled each other like caged lions. It was the musical rivalry between Butterfield and Bloomfield that was precisely the strength of the Butterfield Blues Band. These twin towers of talent each pushing the musical envelope to outplay the other. Bloomfield signature tension and release guitar technique: slow knotty phrases building into an almost unbearable tension which was finally realeased in a blazing cascade of notes, with a climax usually consisting of single long feedback sustained note. Bloomfield's playing was such a stylized pastiche of jazz, blues, and world music that only a musical scholar could discern Bloomfield's almost endless array of source material for his technique. Bloomfield's mastery of guitar was so all-encompassing, he began exprimenting with entirely different musical modalities which flew in the face of the rigid three chord structure of blues.
Late in 1965, Bloomfield presented a piece to the band that he had been working on for well over a year which he titled "East-West". There was no precedent for the composition. It was a jazz peice, in the sense that constructed themes were jump-off points for long improvisational solos by members of the Butterfield Blues Band. What was unprecedented about East-West was the dizzying array of musical styles it embraced from blues themes, to jazz to samba. The center piece of tension was usually a slow segue from a blues theme into an eastern scale Indian raga where Bloomfield manipulated his guitar sound using feedback to sound like a sitar. He is complimented with a harmonica sound by Butterfield that almost sounds as if Butterfield is attempting get a bluesy bagpipe effect. The piece built into an explosive climax, which created new musical space in areas folks never dream it exsisited. At that time no one in the United States had ever heard of a sitar or Ravi Shankar, so a lot of jaws dropped when this blues band launced their performance finale piece. For the first time in musical history, "psychedelic" became the only appropriate term to describe a musical composition. It's ironic that a self-defined blues band created psychedelica, but when the Paul Butterfield Band played the Fillmore in San Francisco in the summer of 1966, the ripple effect of "East-West" created dozens of San Francisco bands who followed Butterfield and Bloomfield's improvisational style to create the psychedelic sound of Haight Ashbury. Without "East/West" there would probably have not been a Grateful Dead (as we know them), a Quicksilver Messenger Service or an entire genre of "jam band" music.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sixties vintage bravura . . ., December 26, 2001
This review is from: East-West (Audio CD)
This album is music of the '60's to me. I remember learning about blues hiding in an alley next to the stairs leading down to the Unicorn Coffee House in Boston, listening to the likes of James Cotton and the Siegel-Schwall Band and just being knocked out. Then, on a rummage through the bins at a record store in Braintree, I just liked the look of the cover of this album. That choice changed my musical taste forever.
I had listened to blues, a lot of it, by the time I got this record; but, this stretched my imagination. The first thing that grabbed me was the harp. Butterfield on "Work Song" just made me want to turn it UP! By the time I hit 'East-West' I was in magicland. With an apology to a forgotten reviewer of many years ago,Bishop was from Chicago, and Bloomfield was from EGYPT!
I still listen to this album a couple of times a month, and have gone through a dozen copies on records, tapes, and CD's, which always seem to be missing after parties. I don't mind . . . much. As I have aged, and have seen rock lose its bearings more times than I can count, and then return to its bare essentials, the blues and folk, I return to this album like Linus' blanket. It is comfort and joy for me.
In the many years since I have heard this music, which was ground breaking in its time, leading to much that followed, the odd consequence has been to send me back, to the old bluesmen to try and understand why 12 bars of repetitive use of three chords has been the hanger for a closet full of repressed feelings and release. If you can't hear John Lee Hooker, all the great blues guitarists and harpists, Robert Johnson and the Devil, and some whiskey in this record, you haven't listened to it enough.
Buy it. Often.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Incredible, July 8, 2001
This review is from: East-West (Audio CD)
After The Paul Butterfield Blues Bands' first album, most fans would expect little deviation from their basic blues flair. How wrong they would be. "East-West" is so ahead of its time, there is almost no room for musical expansion. The band's sophmore effort tightens the mesh, and puts them on a plataeu few blues bands have ever reached. Starting off with "Walkin' Blues," Butterfield growls on vocals and wails on harp in this chicago blues staple. "Get Out of My Life Woman" can be veiwed in the same context, which really gives the album a nice flow. Keeping in the blues vein, "I Got a Mind to Give up Living" allows Bloomfield a chance to show off his blues chops in this five minute tale of woe and sorrow. Butterfield's vocals are at their most soulful and heartfelt on this track, which only intensifies his love for the blues. "All These Blues" is probably the weakest track on the album. It is too short, and seems to be a little uninspired compared to the other tracks. "Work Song" picks up the slack, closing the first side of the album with a spectacular blues send up. Starting with a killer harp, one by one the band members start doing variations on the riff. Bloomfield tears in, playing a VERY LOUD and beautifully distorted lead guitar. He then lets Bloomfield wail away on harp which gives way to Marc Naftalin's organ. Soon the tempo picks up until they all go back to the main riff and end the song. When it's all done, eight minutes of amazing blues and jazz are left to listen again and again. The second side starts off with "Mary, Mary," which is the groups try (emphasis on the word "try") at commercial success. This fails rather miserably, but yet again another great song follows to account for the previous one. "Two Trains Running" is a classic Chicago Blues reworking with a nice fast/moderate tempo beat. My only complaint is that there is a fade ending. "Never Say No" is the slowest and most woeful song on the album. Moving along at a snail's pace Elvin Bishop's vocals make the song work along with the long moaning organ in the back. Next is "East West" which is so incredible and so risky for its time. Once again it involves round robin improvisation in which the band goes even farther than "Work Song." Starting out with a moderate tempo R&B groove, the music becomes louder, working its way to a crescendo. Then Elvin Bishop releases the musical tension and rips into an unbelievable eastern guitar solo. Billy Davenport provides fast bosanova drum rolls to accompany and underpin Bishop on his solo. Soon the band gets louder and works its way to another musical climax. When it's over, Butterfield is left to noodle some quiet eastern licks over a heavenly keyboard and a repiticous bass line. Soon the band gets louder again and the main eastern lick returns until the group ending finally closes the song and album. After +13 minutes, "East West" leaves you wondering what you just heard. After 45 minutes "East-West" leaves you wondering how a group could be so ahead of their time and if anyone could do it any better.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Lying, August 11, 2003
By 
"susybear" (Cheshire, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
This review is from: East-West (Audio CD)
When you're a bit under the weather (if you know what i mean), a little bit above the surface of our blue planet earth (winks all around, chaps), then this CD is for you. It puts you on the moon. I mean that, it really does it for me. Far out...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a few other perspectives on this cd, April 27, 2003
By 
. (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: East-West (Audio CD)
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the Rolling Stones are probably the sole reasons that most white people now even know that the blues exists: ... The Stones because of their incredible commercial success, and somewhat by-the-book covers...and Butterfield because of Mike Bloomfield's unceasing efforts to very publicly credit his inspirations, the original blues ,(and jazz),artists, along with the band's high-energy workouts on blues-based forms ... The -last- thing in the world Bloomfield wanted was for his fans to get 'stuck' on him; he was -the- ambassador between races and generations for the blues, (ask B.B.King where's he thinks his career would be now without Mike's help) ...With that in mind, follow his lead; go out and get some Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Albert, BB, and Freddy King, Elmore James, Howlin'Wolf,(the list goes on and on), and for the more experimental stuff; Coltrane and Ravi Shankar ... That having been said, this music is the turning point, definitely my personal introduction to the music, (along with the Stones), and an LP that I couldn't keep from playing many times every day for months when it first came out. Although upon current listening, much of this seems to have youthful enthusiasm winning out over taste, I recall clearly when I wouldn't have had it any other way....Check out the timeline of the PBBB's move to San Francisco with the music to soon follow from that scene: Santana credits Bloomfield as his major guitar influence,(his band was originally the 'Santana Blues Band'), the Jefferson Airplane's Jorma interviews speak of learning how electric guitar should be played from Bloomfield,(Jorma having mostly played acoustic up until then), and the _quite_ similar Grateful Dead jams that were so soon to follow 'East-West'...Extend that influence to all of the Dead-Inspired 'Jam' bands now, and you have an earth-shaking shift in the way music is played, as well as a dead-center point between what's happening now and the original blues,jazz, and 'world' artists .
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloomfield is brilliant and Butterfield is on fire., July 9, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: East-West (Audio CD)
The title track "East-West" is something which can not be described and must be heard. Upon my introduction to this piece I instantly recognized the brilliance of Mike Bloomfield, definetly one of the most underrated guitarists of all time.
What first struck me about the composition "East-West" was its incorporation of the styles of Ravi Shankar and John Coltrane, two musicians whose brilliance and insightfulness are unquestionable. Bloomfield ability to translates their ideas into the blues-rock medium is astounding. He breaks new ground, no one had ever gone in that direction before. What is even more astounding is that both Shankar and Coltrane were contemporaries of Bloomfield and their innovations were recent, not age old compositions and recordings studied and brought out from the vault. Bloomfield recognized the brilliance of his contemporaries and embraced the ideas they were testing, daring to bring music into an unexplored region. His awareness of these men can not be overlooked, he possessed a great ear and an analytical mind and what this gave to the music world is unprecedented.
"East-West" is a landmark album because of this composition. It would have been enough to have the incisive and fiery playing of Butterfield and his modern interpretations of old blues standards like "Walkin' Blues," but the album does not stop there. "Work Song" is incredible and establishes Butterfield as a virtuoso. Cannonball Adderley recorded a stunning version of this standard on the saxophone and both tunes, when juxtaposed, provide two equally trenchant perspectives, both revealing the possibilities of the song. Everyone knows the range of the saxophone and the abilities of Adderley, Butterfield propels the harmonica to that level. Never before has the harmonica's range been expanded so far and the power of the instrument come to stand out in the open.
Every musician in the band brings a flair to the recording and "Work Song" and "East-West" are the perfect forum for the realization of their talents. This album is a musicians' album and at its best moments, is brilliant.
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East-West by Paul Butterfield (Audio CD - 2008)
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