Al Kooper / Michael Bloomfield

Fillmore East: The Lost Concert Tapes 12/13/68

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At first glance, you might mistake this for unused material from the same late-1968 concerts that supplied the material for The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield & Al Kooper. But no, this was recorded about two and a half months later at a different venue, and with a different backup band (Paul Harris on piano, Jerry Jemmott on bass, and John Cresci on drums). There's still some similarity to the repertoire, though, and a good deal of similarity to the music, which is blues-rock with a late-'60s improvisational heaviness. And to be honest, it hasn't dated well, the undisputed instrumental talents of Bloomfield and Kooper notwithstanding. Why? Well, little original material was offered, the only song falling into that category being Bloomfield's "(Please) Tell Me Partner," a routine and (at ten minutes) overlong blues. The soul-pop cover "Together Till the End of Time" comes off the best, in part because of its relative economy at four and a half minutes in length, and the cover of Sonny Boy Williamson's "One Way Out" isn't bad. But the band isn't too tight (particularly the rhythm section), the lead vocals aren't strong, and the interpretations (including a nine-minute "Season of the Witch," which Kooper and Stephen Stills had done on the popular Bloomfield-Kooper-Stills Super Session album) are too long and not terribly imaginative. This disc does preserve a historic moment of sorts, when Bloomfield introduces then-unknown guest guitarist Johnny Winter, who takes some of the guitar duties on "It's My Own Fault." This was the appearance that, according to Kooper's liner notes, alerted Columbia to Winter, after which the label quickly offered him a contract.

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