There has never been a blues recording to this day to cover the amount of ground that The Butterfield Blues Band does with their triumph East-West.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Allow me to address just about the only negative I have seen concerning these iconic blues masterpiece that has been re-issued as a Hybrid SACD release thanks to Audio Fidelity, the issue is sound quality. Audiophiles will argue their own stay of execution so allow me to quickly break it down. This recording is approaching fifty and given the masters and the recording technology of the day there is no denying there are certain sonic anomalies that are still in play. I have played East-West on everything from a portable disc player to a friends top of the line home audio system and the separation and definition of sound is pristine.
East-West may well be the finest captured work of guitarist Mike Bloomfield and don't forget a picker by the name of Elvin Bishop is also on this release. A big deal is made about this being the first commercially viable blues act made up of both white and black musicians. This just in...musicians don't practice affirmative action. While a Chicago blues based sound to be sure, the harmonics move toward the more traditional improvisational sound of jazz. The subsequent influence on the rock scene was not to be denied and while the band might never have reached what some consider their true potential, East-West is one of the iconic recordings over the last fifty years.
The early standard bearers of what was to become jazz-rock fusion while recording blues classics like "Walkin' Blues" allows The Butterfield Blues Band to move that rarefied status of legends in American popular music.
Audio Fidelity scores a massive hit with a stellar reissue.