50 Years Today, Blood, Sweat and Tears – Child is the Father to the Man

Today, February 21st, 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the release date of the classical Columbia Records recording, Child is the Father to the Man by Blood, Sweat & Tears.

It has always been one of my top listens. I love the flow of the album, beginning with the “Overture”, then continuing with original songs by Al Kooper and Steve Katz. The album always calls me in refreshing, haunting fashion.

I have a framed LP album cover signed by Al Kooper and Steve Katz. I recommend both of their music biographies. Al Kooper’s Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards and Steve Katz’s Blood, Sweat and My Rock ‘N’ Roll Years. Each musician provides a unique perspective on the first B, S, & T recording session and what that time was like for them.

 

Child is Father to the Man is a pastiche that borrows styles from Greenwich Village contemporary folk to San Francisco acid rock and mixes them into a new American musical form. The songs, “Without Her” by Harry Nilsson and “Morning Glory” by Tim Buckley evidence those trends.

My personal favorite track changes from time to time. Right now it’s “Just One Smile” by Randy Newman a very early song in his repertoire.

Do yourself a favor, wake up to your mind and give a listen to one of rock’s real masterpieces, Child is Father to the Man on this 50th anniversary celebration day. The recording is still fresh and vibrant all these decades later.

Blood, Sweat & Tears

  • Randy Brecker – trumpet, flugelhorn
  • Bobby Colomby – drums, percussion; backing vocals (tracks 4, 10)
  • Jim Fielder – bass guitar, fretless bass guitar
  • Dick Halligan – trombone
  • Steve Katz – guitars; lead vocals (tracks 3, 8); backing vocals (tracks 3); lute (track 6)
  • Al Kooper – organ, piano; lead vocals (tracks 2, 4-7, 9-12); ondioline (track 8)
  • Fred Lipsius – piano, alto saxophone
  • Jerry Weiss – trumpet, flugelhorn; backing vocals (track 4)

From His Head To His Heart To His Hands – Michael Bloomfield

Legacy/Columbia has released a monumental blues box set,  Michael Bloomfield‘s From His Head To His Heart To His Hands. It is a gem on so many levels graphics design, culled recordings, rare photos ,extensive liner notes, plus a brilliant documentary. I predict that this box set will be a Grammy Award Nominee for 2014 for design excellence.

The audio/visual scrapbook of 3 Audio CDs and 1 DVD, Sweet Blues: A Film About Mike Bloomfield is a product of devout collaboration by Al Kooper and Bob Sarles, film director . Al Kooper spent 18 months crafting the audio recordings with reverence and precision. I love the creative synergy that exists between and around Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield.

As far as I can recall, Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” was TOTALLY in the can when we played Newport. We reconvened after Newport to rehearse for Dylan’s Forest Hills and Hollywood Bowl concerts, but that was with Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Harvey Brooks and myself. Bloomfield had gone back to Chicago.

Also I did NOT remix any Flag stuff. I remastered the entire album but as you know that excludes remixing. The digital tools used in remastering are quite mighty, however.Anything I edited out on the box was done to draw more attention to Michael. I didn’t need/want the long organ solos in our “Modal” songs as they weren’t comparatively up to Bloomers solos and I wanted the attention paid to Michael. Same with the Strazza edit on “Killing Floor” – these were editorial decisions and I stand behind them. It’s NOT an Electric Flag box.

The other editing I did was simply to keep the ball rolling. The whole point of the box was to educate folks about Michael. Though I was a participant in many of the performances presented, I didn’t exempt myself from the razor blade, so I don’t feel that I used the situation to better myself. As you pointed out, the organ WAS softer on “Like a Rolling Stone,” primarily so that others could finally be heard.  – Al Kooper

 

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Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969-1971)

I become intimidated when it comes to writing about Bob Dylan. I chalk that up to the fact that there are music journalists who write more authoritatively about Bob Dylan than I ever could hope to accomplish. They are the writers I have been reading and following for decades, Dylan musicologists if you will.

I noticed in my Facebook stream this morning that there would be breaking news about Bob Dylan’s next music project release, The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969-1971).

Read more: http://www.bobdylan.com/us#ixzz2ZDvftiRc

I am enthused to learn that the Bob Dylan bootleg series curation was revisiting the era of the Self Portrait and New Morning recordings. The years 1969 and 1970 figured strongly in my life as well as the evolution of popular music. I purchased both albums when they were released. I didn’t connect very well with Self Portrait but New Morning was a warm and constant phonograph companion.

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969-1971) has helped me to reacquaint the music of our heart with the original tracks on Self Portrait and New Morning. My first order of business was to relisten beginning to end to those recordings so I can better appreciate what Another Self Portrait creates for us.

I did not fathom that Bob Dylan had just a small nucleus of musicians on Self Portrait, notably David Bromberg and Al Kooper. They each appear on the Another Self Portrait trailer speaking about the sessions and music recorded.

As the trailer audio indicates we are in for some astounding music to make clear our understanding about this phase of Bob Dylan’s recording career.

I mean after all aren’t we all entitled to Another Self Portrait in this life. Right Greil Marcus : -J

The Rides Featuring: Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg

The Rides was formed by the well-known trio of musicians, Stephen Stills. Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Barry Goldberg. Elliott Roberts who manages Neil Young also manages Stills and Goldberg and suggested they get together and record.

The trio’s new band is further powered by the dynamic rhythm section of bassist Kevin McCormick and Shepherd’s longtime drummer Chris Layton (a veteran of the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble).

The recording Can’t Get Enough was inspired by the 1968 alliance with Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper. The Super Session album featured Stills’ guitar work on one side, and Bloomfield’s on the other. It just so happens that Barry Goldberg played piano on side one of Super Session with Bloomfield and Kooper (Tracks:Albert’s Shuffle and Stop).

Stills dubs this collaboration as “the blues band of my dreams”

The album was produced by Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads fame.

The Rides are slated to release their début album, Can’t Get Enough, on August 26 through Provogue Records. There are tour plans but nothing is available as of this writing.  I’d love to see them live 🙂

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.

Michael Bloomfield Documentary Film Project

One of the aspects about Facebook that I relish are the connections we make with the passions we enjoy. I was recently asked to “Like” the Michael Bloomfield Documentary Film Project Facebook Page. I loved the invitation and what I have learned about Michael Bloomfield’s legacy ever since 😉

I am thankful that Bob Sarles and the team at Ravin’ Films are focused on delivering this very important documentary. They have produced some of my most favorite music videos that I have in my music library.  The film will be available later this year as a DVD in the Mike Bloomfield box set being produced by Al Kooper for Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music.

Micheal Bloomfield was an exceptional blues cat. I play Super Session just so Michael Bloomfield can happily sting me with his guitar lead on “Albert Shuffle” as well as the other tracks he plays on. The Super Session recording may be 45 years old but it’s truly alive every time I spin it.

When I read the documentary description it gets my juices flowing. B.B. King felt Michael Bloomfield was like a son to him. I can only imagine the reciprocal feelings from Michael. Michael Bloomfield convinced Bill Graham to book B.B. King at the Fillmore West and it became the cross the chasm for the King of the Blues.

Documentary Description

A biographical documentary about the life and music of the late, great blues guitarist Michael Bloomfield. This film features never before seen on camera interviews with artists including Carlos Santana, BB King, Charlie Musselwhite, Elvin Bishop, Bob Weir, Al Kooper, John Hammond, Barry Goldberg, Sam Lay, Yank Rachel, Mark Naftalin, Nick Gravenites music promoters Bill Graham and Chet Helms and many others.

If you want to know more about Michael Bloomfield I urge you to get a copy of the book, Michael Bloomfield, If You Love These Blues, An Oral History by Jan Mark Wolkin and Bill Keenom. I’ve read it twice. It is an extended series of interviews with family, friends and colleagues. It forms the basis of the documentary.

Favorite Albums – Blood, Sweat and Tears, Child is Father to the Man

Blood Sweat and Tears, Child is Father to the Man is one of the most repeat playable recordings in my collection.  It was released on February 21, 1968. I love the horn arrangements, the vocals, and the lyrics. The album flows effortlessly from track to track.  Al Kooper is total genius on this recording. Give it a spin, its timeless.

 

 

 

Winter + The Blues = Johnny Winter

Winter + The Blues = Johnny Winter, so what better blues man to feature next than Texas guitarist Johnny Winter.

I recall with great enthusiasm when Johnny Winter burst upon the music scene in 1969. The force of this Texas tornado could be felt from his very first notes. What I like the most about Johnny Winter is that mean ass cat growl of his coupled with the real hot guitar slinging. You immediately feel his pain as it resonates through your bones. Johnny was promoted as the white blues superstar by CBS Records.

One of my favorite early live recordings of Johnny Winter took place at The Fillmore East on December 13, 1968. For many years these concert tapes were lost. But thanks to the efforts of Al Kooper they have resurfaced. This east coast live version of Super Session featured Al Kooper on keyboards and Mike Bloomfield on guitar. Mike Bloomfield introduces Johnny Winter with a raw intensity that sets the stage for this unique collaboration of Kooper, Bloomfield and Winter. According to Al Kooper this is the music moment that captivated the CBS Records representatives attention to pursue and sign Johnny Winter. Not bad for Johnny Winter’s first night ever in New York City at 24 years of age, don’t you think 😉

I have to give the late Mike Bloomfield credit, he non-selfishly promoted blues artists who needed the exposure with the Fillmore audiences. Mike Bloomfield was responsible for convincing Bill Graham to book B.B. King at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. This turned out to be a major cross-over moment for the King of the Blues with the flower power generation. No wonder B.B. King thought of Mike Bloomfield like a son.  Bloomfield paved the way for his old friend Johnny Winter with a strong pat on the back at the Fillmore East.

Johnny Winter’s second official album on Columbia Records, Johnny Winter exhibited Johnny’s strong command of the blues studio production. Recorded in Nashville, Tennesee with Johnny’s band Winter, which included “Uncle” John Turner on percussion and Tommy Shannon on electric bass. Tommy Shannon later played with Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble.  The Johnny Winter album also featured Willie Dixon on acoustic bass, Walter “Shakey” Horton on harp and Johnny’s brother Edgar Winter on piano and alto sax. Johnny was the producer and the ever present production genius Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix’s producer) was the production consultant and photographer. Eddie Kramer shot the photograph of Johnny Winter featured on the cover.

This is Tommy Shannon’s favorite video of Winter live. It was recorded at Montreux in Switzerland in 1970. It captures the band at a high peak.

Super Session – Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Steve Stills, Daily Post 2011 #2

Super Session
Image via Wikipedia

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

2. Stop

3. Man’s Temptation

4. His Holy Modal Majesty

5. Really

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

Bonus Tracks

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