Michael Bloomfield

Count Talent & the Originals

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This album is a mixed bag, though not without its share of agreeably sleazy charms. The title refers to Bloomfield and the "usual suspects" who often played with him, including keyboardist Mark Naftalin, bassist David Shorey, drummer-vocalist Bob Jones, bassist-singer Roger "Jellyroll" Troy, and singer Nick Gravenites, among others. They're all here, with plenty of raunchy horns and keyboards for company. Gravenites' vehicle, "Bad Man" -- a somber recounting of the street life's ups and downs -- provides one of the undisputed highlights, as well as "You Was Wrong," a mournful lament where Bloomfield lays down some truly stinging guitar. Bloomfield's slide guitar prowess also shines on "Peach Tree Man," sung in his characteristic warble about a '30s-era hermaphrodite blues guitarist. How's that for an unlikely topic? Jones' vocal cameos open and close the proceedings with the agreeable R&B swagger of "Love Walk" and "Let the People Dance," which are lesser songs, but well performed. The same goes for "Sammy Knows How to Party," which won't win any lyrical prizes, and there's little reason for an instrumental remake of Leo Sayer's soft pop ballad "When I Need You." This album makes enjoyable listening, but will likely please Bloomfield completists most. Non-initiates should seek out his more definitive solo work, such as Between the Hard Place and the Ground.

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