Sunday, August 19, 2012

a closer look: Paul Butterfield Blues Band "East-West"

The great thing about having SiriusXM is I get to discover older music that even I am not familiar with. I'd certainly heard of Paul Butterfield and remember he was one of the guest for the Band's "Last Waltz" concert, but I had never listened to any of his albums.

This year on "Deep Tracks" I heard the title track from Paul Butterfield Blues Band's "East-West" album from 1966 and was intrigued.  This instrumental track clocks in at over 13 minutes. 


This is truly jam band music. They mine territory that the Allman Brothers would later visit. The Allmans must have been familiar with this album as must have people like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Robbie Krieger and Gary Moore.

The Butterfield Blues Band featured two guitarist that would later gain more fame on their own, Elvin Bishop and the late Mike Bloomfield. Bloomfield is held in high regards as one of the all-time greats.

The band kind of reminds of what if Dave Brubeck started a blues rock band and mixed in some Doors like experimentation?

  Butterfield himself is nothing special as a vocalist but is a great blues harp player. Bloomfield's guitar work transcends the usual blues cliches. Drummer Billy Davenport has a jazz swing to his playing, locking in nicely with bassist Jerome Arnold. Mark Naftalin is a secret weapon on piano and organ.  Elvin Bishop also plays guitar; I'm not sure how he and Bloomfield divided up the licks.

The band was signed to Elektra, the same label as the Doors and had the same producer as them, Paul Rothchild so you will hear some production similarities. According to Wikipedia, the album was recorded at the legendary Chess Studios in Chicago, where greats like Chuck Berry,Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon recorded. The mojo rubbed off...

                                                                  "Work Song"

This is "after dark" music. There's a nervous edge to some it... Sort of a soundtrack to going out with some friends and not sure where you are going or where you will end up. You may visit some bars in parts of town you've never been to. You walk in and strangers give you the once over....

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