Michael Bloomfield
The Best of Michael Bloomfield
Takoma 8905-2
Hearing anything by Michael Bloomfield is bittersweet. He is a true guitar hero with the ability not only to play any musical style he chose but to play it with feeling, taste and uncompromising excellence. A musical scholar who absorbed various idioms, diligently worked on them and make them his own, he had a unique ability to make an audience cry or enter a totally sated state with just one note.

The Best of Michael Bloomfield showcases the talents of Bloomfield in two duets with Little Brother Montgomery; another with drummer Bob Jones; two solo acoustic pieces and an array of numbers with a stable of musicians (including former Butterfield Blues Band bandmate Mark Naftalin) who made up the loosely assembled unit known as Mike Bloomfield & Friends for gigs. It offers an eclectic listening to the master -- delving into ragtime, gospel hymns, country, soul and straight-ahead, burn down-the-house blues. Most of these recording were made in the final years of Bloomfield life (he died in 1981 at 38) pulled from recordings from the Takoma label.

Highlights include Bloomfield and Friends performing "Orphan Blues," "Your Friends" and "Between the Hard Place and the Ground," the powerful, yet sweet acoustic workout given "Frankie And Johnny," the moving gospel tune "The Gospel Truth," where Bloomfield's guitar cries out with heartfelt emotion. The final track, "See My Grave Is Kept Clean," demonstrates why Bloomfield is one of the great slide guitarists of all time.

Unfortunately, there are a number of tunes that should have been included from his Takoma recordings, such as "Analine" (featuring Bloomfield's longtime musical foil and friend Nick Gravenites), "Cruisin' for a Bruisin' " and the sensational "Juke Joint."

Gone for 16 years, Bloomfield's shoes have yet to be filled, his true contribution to the blues still unrecognized by many. Yet, as B.B. King so elegantly expressed on The Tonight Show in 1970: "If it wasn't for Michael Bloomfield I wouldn't be here today." Enough said.

-- Andrew M. Robble

This page and all contents are © 1998 by Blues Access,
Boulder, CO, USA.