Release Date: Feb 4, 2014
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): Blues, Pop/Rock, Blues-Rock, Psychedelic/Garage, Regional Blues, Electric Chicago Blues, Modern Electric Chicago Blues, Jazz-Rock, Acoustic Chicago Blues
Michael Bloomfield, probably the most underappreciated of rock’s guitar gods of the 1960s, liked to call the music he played “sweet blues” because it sounded like singing – like tenderness – compared to the harsher “shouting” of his contemporaries. And he really could put lyricism and sweetness, along with sumptuous variations of tone and effortless tempo shifts, into his solos. Moving between jet-speed chord changes, contemplative modal playing, single-note explorations and groove-cutting slides, he wasn’t so much showing off his prowess as showing his love for caressing his guitar.
When white blues guitarist Michael Bloomfield was found dead at 37 of a drug overdose in his 1965 Chevy in 1981 in San Francisco, he was no more than a rock footnote to most people, having never had the kind of fame and adulation given to guitar peers like Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, and Jimi Hendrix, although he surely influenced all of these players with his sharp improvisational skills and his exciting, and admittedly sometimes erratic, performances. While most guitarists of his generation learned the elements of blues guitar playing from records, Bloomfield, who grew up in North Chicago, learned them first-hand by playing with the likes of B. B.
A bar-mitzvahed Chicago son who baby-sat Muddy Waters' grandkids, Mike Bloomfield was no average Sixties guitar hero. But "hotshit player" doesn't begin to describe the underappreciated blues-rock figurehead, as this beautiful four-disc set makes clear. The 1964 demos here show a twentysomething fluent in urban and rural blues, country and jazz, with a sweet, breakneck attack.
Mike Bloomfield’s reputation in the US came largely as a result of his incendiary playing on two albums with The Paul Butterfield Blues Band: his fiery, innovatory assertiveness inspired many white middle-class college kids to switch from acoustic to electric guitar. Bloomfield’s greatest impact was in San Francisco, where the likes of the Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen, The Fish’s Barry Melton and the Dead’s Bob Weir were overwhelmed by Bloomfield’s fearsome technique and passionate improvisation. All three guitarists appear in Bob Sarles’ fascinating documentary, Sweet Blues, released for the first time on this 3CD+DVD box set.
Lake Street Dive “Bad Self Portraits” (Signature Sounds) 4 Stars Star-making moments don’t happen every day. But four months ago, a potentially big one took place for Rachael Price and her band Lake Street Dive. The little-known group was set to appear as part of an all-star concert to promote the Coen Brothers’ folkie film “Inside Llewyn Davis.” An amazing list of stars — from current names like Marcus Mumford to old timers such as Joan Baez — charmed the media-packed crowd.