Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper

   When in July 1968 was released Super Session album being an outcome of joint project by Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper and Stephen Stills, it became immediately the success. Shortly it occurred to be the precise indication of the direction toward the new era in rock music. The idea of connecting folk blues with improvised instrumental music and psychedelic rock was revolutionary and in next months it was implemented by many artists with different results. On the wave of artistic and commercial success of Super Session album, Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper played with the band series of concerts at the Fillmore West. Live recorded during September 26 to 28, 1968 material was released as double album next year.
The title of double LP life recording, The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper shows the story of how it was created. The title adventures are main subjects in narration on how album was recorded. With Al Kooper playing organ, ondioline (second solo in Dear Mr. Fantasy), piano and singing, Mike Bloomfield playing guitar and singing, there were two more band members John Kahn playing bass guitar and Skip Prokop on drums. In concert performances some more musicians were engaged like Elvin Bishop and Carlos Santana on guitars. Those two were listed on album cover. But it is unclear what kind of appearance made Steve Miller and Dave Brown. What can be interesting for trivia chasers, second song on side three, called Sonny Boy Williamson is Carlos Santana’s recording debut. 

The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper (1969)

   In linear notes Al Kooper explained lineup changes. When after first two days of insomnia Mike Bloomfield was taken to hospital, “in an amazingly short time Elvin Bishop, Carlos Santana, Steve Miller and Dave Brown had volunteered their services and had arrived at the Fillmore”. In effect three days of San Francisco performances become the document of music seen in wide cultural aspect. Producers made it CBS feature product with cover painting by great Norman Rockwell. In 1969 Rockwell was already recognized painter, illustrator and the master of Americana, raising his voice in public discourse towards political and social issues. Wikipedia author states CBS Art Director, John Berg grab the painting to hang it on the wall, but later sold it against the Kooper’s will.
   Program of double record set is both nice artistic exposure and documentary of the project. Songs and themes iconic for the music of late sixties, like Green Onions by Booker T. Jones or Sonny Boy Williamson by Jack Bruce and Paul Jones, This gave the firm base for jamming in a new way.  Base for soloing was rather folk blues and jazz than rock and roll expressions. The same rules applied to vocals where rough style expression was more important than singing skills. In best part of recorded material this album is pith and marrow for spirit of the sixties and a foundation of modern blues-rock style. Four stars for its perfection and spirit.

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