Michael Bloomfield

If You Love These Blues, Play 'em As You Please

Kicking Mule Records KMCD-9801-2


On the first portion of the CD: Michael Bloomfield, acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, piano, organ, bass and vocals; Ron Stallings, tenor saxophone; Hart McNee, baritone saxophone; Ira Kamin, organ; Eric Kriss, piano; Nick Gravenites, guitar and vocals; Roger Troy and Doug Kilmer, bass; Dave Neditch and Tom Donlinger, drums on first portion. On the second portion of the CD: Woody Harris, acoustic guitar and Michael Bloomfield on electric slide and acoustic guitars.

The first part of this CD was originally recorded to be an instructional album for Guitar Magazine in 1976 and each selection is preceded by a short narrative description. The total package is an astounding one hour, ten minutes and twenty-eight seconds long. According to the liner notes, Bloomfield felt it was his best record "It's me at my hottest." Bloomfield opens with a short exercise on "If You Love These Blues" and reaffirming vocally his love of the blues.

"Hey Foreman" features Bloomfield inexplicably on a hillbilly-influenced vocal yodeling and using an Hawaiian guitar. The shuffle tune, "WDIA," pays homage on electric guitar to B. B. King and "Death Cell Rounder Blues" features Bloomfield in a fine vocal display of acoustic country blues on this guitar-piano duet. "City Girl" is an urban-oriented blues in the guitar style of T-Bone Walker and Bloomfield is supported by the solid horn section. Bloomfield plays solo acoustic guitar on "Kansas City Blues" and it is the traditional tune first recorded by Jim Jackson in 1928. "Mama Lion" was written by Nick Gravenites and he executes it here in a Chicago-influenced guitar style and a gritty vocal rendering. On "Thrift Shop Rag," Bloomfield uses a Gibson acoustic guitar on what he describes as a finger-pick rag in the style of Blind Blake. "Death In My Family" is dedicated to Guitar Slim and is punctuated by the upbeat saxophone background exceptionally rendered by Stallings on tenor and McNee on baritone. "The Train Is Gone" is a tribute to early thirties and forties musicians Lonnie Johnson, Eddie Long and Teddy Bunn who played with fast single-string harmony and Bloomfield plays guitar and banjo on this one. On "The Alter Song" Bloomfield uses the gospel background to thank just about every known blues musicians by name.

On the second portion, recorded in 1979, Woody Harris on acoustic guitar and Michael Bloomfield on both acoustic and electric slide guitars perform a series of exquisite gospel-influenced tunes. The outstanding one is "Gonna Need Somebody On My Bond" on which Bloomfield plays sensitive electric slide guitar on this haunting tune.

This was obviously a labor of love for Michael Bloomfield and he demonstrates a blues sensibility on this CD which was the foundation for everything else he did. This effort shows maturity and depth and would be a welcome addition to the collection of hard-core blues lovers.

by Dorothy L. Hill

New Sounds - February 2005

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