The sophomore album by the Butterfield Blues Band, East-West, was recorded mostly in July 1966 at the famed Chess Studios in Chicago and released later that same year on Elektra Records. The title track, however, was a live recording taped during an August ’66 performance at the Fillmore West in San Francisco as part of a Bill Graham curated bill that also included the Jefferson Airplane. This particular track is significant for two reasons. Firstly, it allowed one of the greatest guitarists of our time, Mike Bloomfield, who insisted that the song be included on the album, to exhibit both his writing and playing abilities. Secondly, by crossing Bloomfield’s influences with those of Butterfield and the rest of the band, the band’s style took a distinct (read: psychedelic) turn that went on to influence countless West Coast musicians.
At the time, Bloomfield had been bitten by the modal jazz bug, and was largely influenced John Coltrane’s Indian raga explorations and Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue album. “East-West” was one of the earliest examples of these styles crossing over to blues and rock music, and according to music critic Dave Marsh, “It can be heard as part of what sparked the West Coast’s rock revolution, in which such song structures with extended improvisatory passages became commonplace.” The combination of Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop on duel guitars is downright nasty. Stream/download “East-West” below.