The Butterfield Blues Band - East-West
Paul Butterfield (hca, voc); Elvin Bishop, Mike Bloomfield (g); Mark Naftalin (org); Jerome Arnold (b); Billy Davenport (dr)
Written by Robert Johnson (A1), Allen Toussaint (A2), Nat Adderley, Jr. (A5), Oscar Brown (A5), Michael Nesmith (B1), Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis (B2), Muddy Waters (B2), Mike Bloomfield (B4), Nick Gravenites (B4). A3, A4 and B3 are traditional songs.
1 LP, standard sleeve
Original analog Master tape : YES
Heavy Press : 180g
Record color : black
Speed : 33 RPM
Size : 12'’
Record Press : Pallas
Label : Speakers Corner
Original Label : Elektra
Recording: July 1966 at Chess Studios, Chicago (IL), by Jac Holzman
Production: Barry Friedman, Mark Abramson, Paul Rothchild
Originally released in 1966
Reissued in 2020
Side A :
- Walkin' Blues
- Get Out Of My Life, Woman
- I Got A Mind To Give Up Living
- All These Blues
- Work Song (order of solos: Mike Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield, Mark Naftalin, Elvin Bishop)
Side B :
- Mary, Mary
- Two Trains Running
- Never Say No (Vocal: Elvin Bishop)
- East-West (order of solos: Elvin Bishop, Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield)
« The raw immediacy and tight instrumental attack of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's self-titled debut album were startling and impressive in 1965, but the following year, the group significantly upped the ante with its second LP, East-West. The debut showed that Butterfield and his bandmates could cut tough, authentic blues (not a given for an integrated band during the era in which fans were still debating if a white boy could play the blues) with the energy of rock & roll, but East-West was a far more ambitious set, with the band showing an effective command of jazz, Indian raga, and garagey proto-psychedelia as well as razor-sharp electric blues. Butterfield was the frontman, and his harp work was fierce and potent, but the core of the band was the dueling guitar work of Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop, especially Bloomfield's ferocious, acrobatic solos, while Mark Naftalin's keyboards added welcome washes of melodic color, and the rhythm section of bassist Jerome Arnold and drummer Billy Davenport were capable of both the rock-solid support of veteran blues players and the more flexible and artful pulse of a jazz combo, rising and relaxing with the dynamics of a performance. The Butterfield Blues Band sounded muscular and exciting on classic blues workouts like "Walkin' Blues," "Two Trains Running," and "I Got a Mind to Give Up Living," but the highlights came when the band pushed into new territory, such as the taut New Orleans proto-funk of "Get Out of My Life, Woman," the buzzy and mildly trippy "Mary, Mary," and especially two lengthy instrumental workouts, the free-flowing jazz of Nat Adderley's "Work Song" and the title track, a fiery mix of blues, psychedelia, Indian musical patterns, and several other stops in between, with Butterfield, Bloomfield, and Bishop blowing for all their worth. East-West would prove to be a pivotal album in the new blues-rock movement, and it was the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's greatest achievement; Bloomfield would be gone by the time they cut their next LP to form the Electric Flag, and as good as Bishop was, losing the thrust and parry between the two guitarists was a major blow. But East-West captures a great group in high flight as the bandmembers join together in something even more remarkable than their estimable skills as individuals would suggest, and its importance as a nexus point between rock, blues, jazz, and world music cannot be overestimated. » AllMusic Review by Mark Deming
« Paul Butterfield was one of the most influential and possibly overlooked rock pioneers of the 1960’s. A musical stalwart, he began his career in the Chicago folk blues scene. He formed a band that first garnered attention backing Bob Dylan’s infamous electric set at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Eventually signed to Elektra Records, the Butterfield Blues Band featured two stalwart guitarists, Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop. Their self-titled debut saw limited commercial success, but became a staple of the mid 1960’s rock scene. Their rollicking translations of electric Chicago-style blues was driven by the harmonica expertise of Butterfield and the dual guitar assault of Bloomfield and Bishop. The band became regulars at Fillmore West and Fillmore East. Additionally, they played the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock. They were credited with advancing the psychedelic rock/blues genre. The Butterfield Blues Band reached a creative zenith in 1966 with the East–West album. This was the last project of the core members. They intermingled jazz and soul into their repertoire, and included two extended instrumental jams. Paul Butterfield was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame and the band became members of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Sadly he passed away in 1984.
Speakers Corner Records has released a 180-gram vinyl remastering of East–West. Joining the Butterfield/Bloomfield/Bishop triumvirate, is the rhythm section of Mark Naftalin (organ, piano) Jerome Arnold (bass) and Billy Davenport (drums). True to their roots, Side One kicks off with a Robert Johnson cover, “Walkin’ Blues”. It is classic Delta blues, cultivated with Chicago swagger. Butterfield’s earnest vocals and harp accents are framed by a steady roots pulse. Bloomfield’s scintillating guitar licks play against the band leader on harp. Switching to soul-based blues, Allen Touissant’s “Get Out Of My Life, Woman” (a r & b hit for Lee Dorsey) has a relaxed groove that features a catchy vamp on piano (Naftalin). Small touches like a tempo uptick at the end showcase the chemistry of the sextet. In what can be described as authentic, “down home” blues, “I Got A Mind To Give Up Living” distills the aching melancholy of the blues with imagery like, “shop for a tombstone” and after reading a lover’s letter, being “better off dead”. The band wraps itself around Bloomfield’s piercing guitar inflections. On “All These Blues”, the focus is on Butterfield. His rousing harmonica solo and emotional vocal delivery is timeless. East–West is transcendental due to its pair of extended instrumental jams. Nat Adderley’s jazz classic “Work Song” manages to combine the freewheeling aesthetics of bop jazz with the tighter structures of blues rock. Bloomfield offers the first solo, fluid with meticulous timing. Butterfield follows with crisp rawness, spurred on by Arnold’s galloping bass. Naftalin’s unconventional tonality on organ is a nice touch. Elvin Bishop displays a variety of stylish technique with a muscular resonance. All four soloists riff in a wild, climactic exchange.
Butterfield East-WestEast–West is anything but predictable. “Mary Mary” is a vintage Sixties guitar effect-laden pop translation of a pre Monkees Michael Nesmith composition. Nesmith would cover this song with his “TV” band and surprisingly, so did RUN-D.M.C. Reverting back to basics, Muddy Waters’ “Two Trains Running” is straight up blues. This seems intuitive as the album was recorded at Chess Studios in The Windy City. All of the hooks and crisp tempo pay tribute to Muddy. Bloomfield adds yet another explosive solo. Elvin Bishop gets to sing lead on “Never Say No”. His languid, deeper-voiced singing adds to the painstaking slow-burning flow, augmented by swirling organ. The title finale is mesmerizing. In a genre-merging arrangement, this Mike Bloomfield/Nick Gravenites composition sets a high bar for acid rock. It is a precursor to Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. According to lore, the LSD-fueled inspiration merged elements of free jazz to psychedelic rock. The complex motifs include Middle Eastern droning, hypnotic modality and various musical counterpoints. Drummer Billy Davenport is phenomenal, adapting a 4 beat groove pattern. He anchors this occasionally spacey instrumental with aplomb. Butterfield’s harmonica sounds like a floating saxophone, articulating exotic themes. Bloomfield and Bishop play off each other with harmony and flair. For anyone who wants to experience the auditory punch of this number, a good pair of stereo headphones is a must.
This vinyl 180-gram pressing of East–West by Speakers Corner is outstanding. The sonic details are precise and vibrant. The mix layer is balanced with ample stereo separation. It is a veritable historical document and a valuable addition to any rock collection. » Robbie Gerson, Audiophile Audition, Apr 2, 2021
In 1965, just one year after Paul Butterfield had formed his blues band – named after himself - and launched one of the very best groups among the white Chicago blues community, the band produced this dynamic and visionary album. The group presents a wide range of contrasting numbers, both eastern and western, which reflect the LP’s title – something totally new and innovative. In the first few titles, traditional standard numbers come over rather enigmatically while supporting original and rhythmic compactness, but this soon gives over to a tactically well-formed instrumentation and lengthy solo interludes.
The all-embracing motto 'blues' is taken up by the band in Nat Adderley’s "Work Song" at the very latest, with mind-expanding ways of playing and varying sounds. Catapulted by Mike Bloomfield’s artistry on the guitar into the world of rock, all the musicians celebrate these well-known jazz standards and each man contributes his personal skill into forging a perfectly balanced team effort.
The title number "East-West" ultimately demolishes the world of the blues. In the tonal mixture of confidently prepared rock ingredients and borrowings from Indian music (raga rock), we have an amalgamation of rock, blues, jazz and oriental melodies which result in an emotional, unheard-of sound that is well worth the hearing.
AllMusic : 5 / 5 ; Discogs : Audiophile Audition : 4.5 / 5