Super Session, Variations on a Theme

The original album, Super Session has begat several variations on a theme. Starting with the original, genius sessions in 1968, then moving through time Al Kooper and Columbia Records (Sony) have shown us the extended value(at times) of more collaboration, live recordings, and remastering efforts.

We begin the Super Session catalogue with the original pressing on vinyl for Columbia Records. I bought this record in the summer of 1968. I took it to high school with me often during senior year (68-69). I played it many days in my art class where we had a hi-fi system for music as a back drop. I played it the last day of high school in the gymnasium as the prom committee decorated for our prom, The Magic Carpet Ride (1969). The blues filled the gym as we seniors reflected on the last day of class. We booked the superstar band from Elektra Records, Rhinoceros to play as our prom band. They were awesome.

1) Super Session, Columbia Records CS 9701, released July 22, 1968

Sony released Super Session as a 24-bit remastered CD on April 8, 2003. I bought a copy and I was disappointed with the result. Yes like most reissues there were extra tracks, even editions of the original tracks without horns (which I abhor). But I found it overkill and a wasted effort.

What frosted my cake even more was that Al Kooper remixed Super Session in 5.1 SACD. But Sony closed the SACD division and this recording along with Blood, Sweat and Tears, Child Is The Father To Man sit on a shelf, collecting dust somewhere. Such a pity.

In late 2004 Al Kooper released this statement:

To the best of my knowledge, based on an unnamed source, the new head of SONY/BMG shut down the 5.1 SACD department and let everyone go. A year and a half ago I remixed Super Session and Child Is Father to the Man for them in 5.1 SACD. They both came out incredible and so I mastered them with Bob Ludwig. Now it seems they will languish on the shelves under the current administration of SONY/BMG.,……..Typical, in soooo many ways.” [7]

2) The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper, Columbia KGP-6, 1969

I was very excited in 1969 when I read in Rolling Stone Magazine that Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield had a live recording coming out based on the Super Sessions. I haunted To-Ve’s Record Shop in Norwalk until that recording hit the wall rack. I loved the feel of that live recording immensely. It also introduced me to a very young Carlos Santana who stepped in to play for Mike Bloomfield when insomnia placed him in the hospital during the Fillmore West gig.

The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al ...
The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The cover painting by Norman Rockwell is mesmerizing. Here is a picture of Al, Norman and Mike together.

3) Fillmore East: The Lost Concert Tapes 12-13-68, Legacy ‎CK 85278, April 8, 2003

The tapes for Super Session Live (East) were lost for 30 years. Fortunately they were recovered and we have the Fillmore East gigs to listen to now. The sound of the Fillmore East is unequalled in the history of live music recordings. The extra juice of this recording is that Johnny Winter was, if you will excuse the expression, white-hot in those days. Mike Bloomfield introduces Johnny Winter to the audience and he rips it up, Texas blues style.

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