One of the guys whose name is bandied about frequently is Mike Bloomfield. Well, he has not been played on my local classic radio stations in St. Louis, so his music never made it to my ears.
It was suggested to me that I purchase this album. Well, honestly, I'm still not terribly familiar with whom Al Kooper is, but I think everybody knows who Stephen Stills is. Recently Stephen Stills was profiled in Guitar World for his boxed set and that has also piqued my interest.
|Mike Bloomfield, right.|
Bloomfield played on side one and Stills on side two! I suppose even in the sixties, you couldn't get two talented lead guitarists to play together.
This album is definitely a tale of two sides. Mike Bloomfield's side one, is far more instrumental than vocal. There is a lot of 12 bar blues noodling along with a very full band.
One of my absolute favorite sounds, a Hammond Organ through a Leslie Speaker Cabinet, is all over these tracks and it sounds just absolutely beautiful to my ears.
Bloomfield's guitar breaks are long, fluid, and clean. The articulation of his phrases cut like panes of glass being broken. He allowed very little to ring clearly, instead he focused on a staccato attack that always felt on the brink of a flame throwing solo that never came. That discomfort is beautiful.
Side two of this album has a very different vibe to it than the former. It's still a very bluesy album, but Al Kooper's vocals are featured far more on this than on the other. Whereas side one was about setting up Bloomfield's guitar licks,side two is more about creating full blues songs with vocals. Funnily enough, side two has the longest song on the disc, "Season Of The Witch," clocking in at an impressive eleven minutes!
My preferred side was one because I'm a guitar player and I love to hear people at the top of the ladder play. Though it had to yet to properly exist, Bloomfield never shredded but played within the song at all times. Much like Robbie Krieger did.
I suppose that's the best way to look at this album. If you're a Doors fan, which do you prefer to listen to: "Light My Fire" or "Break On Through?" Whichever answer you choose, one of the sides will appeal to you.
1) Albert's Shuffle
3) Man's Temptation
4) His Holy Modal majesty
6) It Taks a Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
7) Season of the Witch
8) You Don't Love Me
9) Harvey's Tune