Michael Bloomfield

Between the Hard Place & the Ground/Cruisin' for a Bruisin'

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While most guitarists of his generation learned the elements of blues guitar playing from records, Michael Bloomfield, who grew up in North Chicago, learned them firsthand by playing with the likes of B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Big Joe Williams, and others in Chicago's gritty blues clubs. His first bands, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Electric Flag, were racially mixed blues powerhouses, fusing the blues with jazz, R&B, psychedelia, and seemingly everything else under the sun, and like Bloomfield, both of those bands are woefully underappreciated. His four solo albums, the last two of which, 1979's Between the Hard Place & the Ground and the darker Cruisin' for a Bruisin' from 1981, are combined here, were strange, eccentric, occasionally brilliant, and never sold well. An erratic, manic, and groundbreaking guitarist, Bloomfield may well have been at his best as a session player or as a member of a touring band, but even as uneven as these two albums are with him front and center, Bloomfield is never less than fascinating.

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