Title - 'East-West' [Hybrid SACD - DSD]
Artist - The Butterfield Blues Band
Now, whether you were aware back in the day, or found out along the way, or are new to this band and never knew in the first place, The Butterfield Blues Band kinda made some musical history back in 1966!
Indeed, it was back then in the mid-60's that this delightful album (which peaked at #65 on the Billboard pop albums chart) came out and it immediately raised a few eyebrows, believe me! Why, I hear you ask? Well, it was a mixed-race band for a start! It had a white guy singing blues like a black man and two superb guitarists in Mike Bloomfield (sadly deceased at an early age) and Elvin Bishop - whose successful solo career never reached the same virtuoso heights. I mean, come on now, none of us had heard anything quite like it ever before.
It was the musical providers of free jazz's second studio album and is today re-issued as a Hybrid SACD. A Limited-Edition numbered release from Audio Fidelity it plays on all SACD and CD players. Produced by Paul Rothchild and Marck Abrason (except for 'Mary Mary'), and mastered for this SACD by Kevin Gray, listening to this CD now it's as crisp, as clear, as defined as you will ever have heard it!
With most everyone associated with knowing this band and their music agreeing that East-West was most likely the best Paul Butterfield album made, it begins with the heavy funk blues of 'Walkin' Blues,' and proceeds majestically onwards with the sad hard done by in love storytelling of 'Get Out Of My Life, Woman.'
While Mark Naftalin is a scintillating, fast-handed craftsman it's Bloomfield that soars to the heights. His solo on 'I Got A Mind To Give Up Living' has to be one of the best blues riffs ever laid down! Man, that cat did it in style. Listen to it and tell me I lie! 'All These Blues' returns to more typical blues and rock sounds, but the first definitive musical skip beat comes on 'Work Song.' Indeed, with what Butterfield and his band do prior to it this free-flowing and powerful instrumental jam is as far removed for anything that went before.
'Mary, Mary' has an early Stones vibe and appeal to it, perhaps even some Animals too, and is followed by the funk-pop blues of 'Two Trains Running.' It's yet another great organ/guitar cut, this time with Butterfield and his band wishing they were a Catfish (just listen to the song and you'll get it!).
With an album that combines the emotion and power of the blues along with the swing and instrumental dexterity of a great jazz band, it's the slow poke grooves of 'Never Say No' (written and sung by guitarist Elvin Bishop) that comes along next. And then this still-terrific today album is brought to a close with the freeflowing guitar jam work of the title track, 'East-West.'
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
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