|1. Walkin' Blues|
|2. Get Out Of My Life, Woman|
|3. I Got A Mind To Give Up Living|
|4. All These Blues|
|5. Work Song|
|6. Mary, Mary|
|7. Two Trains Running|
|8. Never Say No|
The Butterfield Blues Band started out as a straight-ahead Chicago electric blues ensemble. If you're a blues purist, you will prefer their first album. But on East West, the band has clearly come under the influence of, ahem, mind-expanding substances. There are several traditional electric blues numbers here, but there are also several tracks that stretch the boundaries of the blues genre.
The band was remarkable for the work of two great soloists. Paul Butterfield was an outstanding harmonica player (as well as a decent vocalist), and Michael Bloomfield was an awesome guitarist. On this album, both get a chance to display soulful originality as well as technical chops. Unlike a lot of 1960s blues rock musicians, Butterfield and Bloomfield still sound fresh and unique today. In particular, Bloomfield's solos on "I've Got A Mind to Give Up Living", "Work Song", and "East West" have a modal quality totally unlike any of the other blues rock guitar gods of his era. The contrast between Bloomfield's complex droning runs and second guitarist Elvin Bishop's more traditonal lick-based solos are stunning.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›