Sunday, July 20, 2014

Michael Bloomfield, Al Kooper & Stephen Stills - Super Session

Bloomfield, Kooper & Stills' Super Session
It is, perhaps, the “Holy Grail” of Michael Bloomfield recordings, the ground-breaking 1968 album Super Session with Al Kooper and Stephen Stills. All of the marquee names on Super Session were “in between” bands – Bloomfield having left Electric Flag, Kooper kicked out of Blood, Sweat & Tears after producing that band’s magnificent Child Is Father To The Man album, and Stills in the process of leaving Buffalo Springfield (but before Crosby, Stills & Nash). They were joined by Bloomfield’s former Electric Flag bandmates bassist Harvey Brooks and keyboardist Barry Goldberg as well as drummer Eddie Hoh.

On August 19th, 2014 Audio Fidelity will release a limited-and-numbered edition of Super Session as a 5.1 Multichannel Hybrid SACD. This new version pares back the 2002 reissue’s four bonus tracks in favor of improved sound for the original nine album tracks; Kooper produced the original album and completed the previously unreleased 5.1 Surround Sound mix in 2006.

In a press release for the album Kooper says “Surround Sound allows the listener to get up close to each musician and hear details you can't hear in stereo.” The two-channel CD stereo can be played on all standard CD players while the SACD stereo requires a SACD player. SACD Surround Sound requires a Multichannel SACD player and system to be properly heard.

Super Session has its roots in the free-wheeling ‘60s. Kooper had become an A&R executive with Columbia Records after leaving Blood, Sweat & Tears, and would go on to work with talents like Nils Lofgren, the Tubes, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Kooper had an idea to record a studio jam session with guitarist Bloomfield, who he had worked with on sessions for Bob Dylan. He enlisted the other instrumental talents to back them in the studio on a set of rock, soul, and blues tunes mixing newly-minted originals with covers like Curtis Mayfield’s “Man’s Temptation” and the Philly soul classic “Stop.”

Bloomfield worked one day in the studio, recording the five tracks that would become the first side of Super Session, before packing his bags and going home. Kooper knew that his unpredictable friend suffered from insomnia and heroin addiction and, without dropping a beat, he recruited Stills for the second studio session, recordings that would become side two of the album including a lengthy jam on Donovan’s “Season of the Witch,” Dylan’s “It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry,” and bluesman Willie Cobbs’ “You Don’t Love Me.”

The result would be a classic of late 1960s rock ‘n’ blues, the album rising to #12 on the Billboard albums chart and eventually earning a Gold Record for sales. Super Session has been reissued numerous times through the years, and it’s earned its classic status, displaying timeless performances that still sound great 45+ years later.  

Super Session track list:

1. Albert's Shuffle
2. Stop
3. Man's Temptation
4. His Holy Modal Majesty
5. Really
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

Buy the SACD from Super Session (Hybrid Multichannel SACD)

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