Super Session Review

artist: Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper & Steve Stills date: 07/29/2014 category: compact discs
Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper & Steve Stills: Super Session
Released: July 22, 1968
Genre: Blues
Label: Columbia
Number Of Tracks: 9
It's hard to believe that this body of work was not scripted like some fine novel, because it certainly has all of those characteristics.
 Sound: 10
 Lyrics: 10
 Overall Impression: 9
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overall: 9.7
Super Session Reviewed by: Oliver_White3, on july 29, 2014
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: There never was such lineup as "Bloomfield - Kooper - Stills," which would have been fun to hear, but closest to that comes this album featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper on the first half and Steve Stills and Al Kooper on the other half of the album. The material is mostly covers, but they work nicely for the musicians to make their own jam and put their own sound into it.

The record was made by Al Kooper, the founding member of Blood Sweat & Tears, Stephen Stills later member of Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Mike Bloomfield of the famed Electric Flag. Both Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper had backed Bob Dylan on his earth shattering recording of "Highway 61 Revisited," and Al Kooper had been a member of Dylan's band when they took the Newport Folk Festival by storm, forever changing everything anyone ever thought they had known about music before.

Along with these legendary musicians was drummer Eddie Hoh, bass guitarist Harvy Brooks, and keyboard player Barry Goldberg, who was also with Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival. The actual cause for Stephen Stills being present is under much speculation, though it is probably safe to say that if it had not been for the heroin habit of Mike Bloomfield, who just up and disappeared half way through the recording, Stephen would not have been present at all ... Sometimes magic does strike from the ashes of tragedy. // 10

Lyrics: The set begins with "Albert's Shuffle," which is the first of only two basic blues numbers written - or probably improvised - by the musicians themselves. It also features a few horns arranged by Mr. Kooper. The other blues number, "Really," is more meat and potatoes. In between there are "Stop" (originally performed by Howard Tate, whose version I have never heard) and "Man's Temptation" (a Curtis Mayfield song for the Impressions) and both of those sound fine. The instrumental "His Holy Modal Majesty" may be considered a sequel to Butterfield's "East-West," featuring solo guitar by Mr. Bloomfield, but to me it sounds clearly different and would make a very good song if it wasn't hugely overlengthy.

The second set opens with a really surprising take of Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" - to be honest, I like this one more than the original. Donovan's "Season of the Witch" is even more massively over-lengthy than "His Holy Modal Majesty," but what is left is best on the whole album: "You Don't Love Me," a psychedelic rock take of a well known blues classic, and "Harvey's Tune," a stylish jazz pop instrumental composed by the bassist Harvey Brooks. // 10

Overall Impression: On the whole, I like "Super Session" surprisingly much. I think it equals or even beats many '60s albums that are nowadays considered super classics, including "Highway 61 Revisited," "Are You Experienced" and "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn." It's hard to believe that this body of work was not scripted like some fine novel, because it certainly has all of those characteristics...

One musician points to the direction, the others follow, then another branches off, and still another takes the lead, then it all blends back together and into the next song without giving you the chance to exhale. There were new sounds here, there were new concepts being brought forward, there was a recognition of other great songs, as in the covering of Donovan's "Season of the Witch," there were long flowing jams, as with "His Holy Modal Majesty," and there were tiny sweet little gems, like "Harvey's Tune." // 9

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