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It was my last day of public school, June 1969, I was hanging out in the gymnasium, loving the freedom before me yet dealing with the ambiguity of where was my life going? I really had a case of the blues. All around me various members of my senior class were putting up the decorations for our senior prom, which we were attending the following night.
In the middle of the gym floor was a record player, I walked over with my copy of Super Session, placed it on the platter, dropped the needle and shuffled back over to the bleachers to sit and listen. The sound of Mike Bloomfield‘s guitar and Al Kooper‘s organ filled the gym with the stinging sound of “Albert’s Shuffle” which filled my void masterfully. My angst about the future slipped away as the intensity of the music appeased my concerns. It was then I knew that music would carry me through the next phase of my existence.
Ratchet ahead 41 years to when I purchase the remastered edition of Super Session. What a tour de force to hear a cleaner, enhanced edition of this historic work. It all comes flooding back in waves of sound that envelops the listener and finds me at another major fork in the road.
Al Kooper had left Blood, Sweat and Tears, after making a monumental recording with them Child is the Father to the Man (Al Kooper signed this album for me a few years back at Stage One in Fairfield!).
Mike Bloomfield had just left The Electric Flag. Another recording that helped define the music of the 60s in terms of Texas blues mixed with R&B. Mike brought with him to the Super Session recording session two ex-Flag band mates Harvey Brooks on bass and Barry Goldberg on electric piano (Barry contributed to tracks 1 & 2).
The Super Session recording was rounded out admirably by “Fast” Eddie Hoh on drums and Steve Stills on guitar who filled in for Mike Bloomfield who left after one day’s recording to deal with his insomnia. Steve Stills was in the process of leaving Buffalo Springfield and he turned out to be the perfect complement to completing Super Session. It ended up fitting that Super Session would usher in the era of the super groups, representing a transitional portal for Kooper, Bloomfield and Stills in their respective careers.
Al Kooper in the liner notes states about Super Session, “…amazingly found itself timeless….making this one of the most rewarding projects I have ever worked on.”
Super Session Tracks
Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield Side
1. Albert’s Shuffle
3. Man’s Temptation
4. His Holy Modal Majesty
Al Kooper/Steve Stills Side
6. It Takes 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
10. Albert’s Shuffle – without horns
I like the edginess of this song without the horns, but I can perfectly understand why Al Kooper had arranger Joe Scott add them.
11. Season of the Witch – without horns
The sound of this recording without the horns is echo ridden and almost hollow at points (dynamically impaired Al Kooper called this, rightfully so).
12. Blues for Nothing – outtake with Mike Bloomfield
13. Fat Grey Cloud (Live), (Previously Unreleased) – Recorded 1968 at the Fillmore West (probably from The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper sessions)
There were two live recordings of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper that took place, the first was at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, September 26-28th 1968, featuring the first live recording of Carlos Santana released when he was 22 years old* This live performance also stars Elvin Bishop. It was released by Columbia Records in 1969.
Then later in the year at the Fillmore East in New York City they recorded, Fillmore East: Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield. The Lost Concert Tapes 12/13/68 (featuring Johnny Winter)
* Carlos Santana was recorded in 1967 on Santana Live at the Fillmore in 1967 but it was not released commercially until January 1, 1997