Album Review: Michael Bloomfield - Blues At The Fillmore 1968 - 1969
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4/5 Miles Davis once said of Michael Bloomfield that "when he plays for blacks, his shit comes out black, and that if one put (Bloomfield) with James Brown, he'd be a motherfucker". Davis would later go on to recommend Bloomfield to Woody Herman, leading to some staggering recordings with Herman's jazz orchestra. History however is a cruel mistress, and occasionally people get lost in her vaults, ceasing to be recognised for their immeasurable impact and contribution to a particular field. Certainly in the case of modern day music, Michael Bloomfield is the epitome of this, and today his profound influence remains unknown and untold. This has been particularly highlighted with the recent release of 'Blues At The Fillmore 1968 - 1969'. The recordings are from several different concerts at Bill Graham's Fillmore, made alongside cohorts Al Kooper (who Bloomfield and Stephen Stills had recently released Super Session with), and Nick Gravenites (previously the vocalist of Bloomfield's recently disintegrated band, The Electric Flag). This period was arguably Bloomfield's most radiant, and despite the recordings being over 43 years old, his ground-breaking musicianship is nonetheless showcased throughout. The opening instrumental - 'Stronger than Dirt' - is perhaps the most forgettable number in the collection. Whilst it seems a strange choice to have included, it does nonetheless show Bloomfield taking centre stage, and playing with every bit of fierceness that fans would expect on a stax influenced number. Johnny Otis's 'If I ever get lucky' features a blistering vocal performance from Taj Mahal, and certainly some of the most soulful blues playing Bloomfield ever laid down. Likewise his playing on 'Wintry Country-Side' and 'Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong' highlight Bloomfield's immortal phrasing and incomparable melodic sense and feel.
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