CD Review: Michael Bloomfield

michaelbloomfieldMichael Bloomfield
From His Head to His Heart to His Hands: An Audio/Visual Scrapbook
Columbia/Legacy
by David Chiu

Playing electric guitar on Bob Dylan’s iconic track “Like a Rolling Stone” had already ensured Michael Bloomfield’s musical legacy – but that historic session only tells part of his story. While his name is not often mentioned in the pantheon of guitar greats such as Clapton, Page, Hendrix and Beck, Bloomfield was one of rock’s finest guitar players, especially in the blues genre – and yet he hasn’t gotten the greater recognition that he deserves. That is until recently with the release of this wonderful 3-CD/1 DVD retrospective loving assembled by his longtime collaborator Al Kooper. It spans Bloomfield’s entire career starting with tracks from his 1964 audition with the legendary Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond (the same man who signed Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Billie Holiday); through his work with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band (the epic “East West” included here ) and the Electric Flag; to his famed work with Kooper on the popular Super Sessions album from 1968 and live tracks from The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper. The set also includes Bloomfield’s collaborations with the likes of Janis Joplin (“One Good Man”) Muddy Waters (“Can’t Lose What You Never Had”) to one of his last live performances in a 1980 reunion with Bob Dylan on the bluesy “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar” – soon after, Bloomfield was found dead in his car in 1981 at the age of 37. From His Head to His Heart to His Hands is a great tribute to one of rock’s greatest guitarists – in every performance, one can hear that passion and electricity run through those fingers.

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