A Mike Bloomfield alt-Anthology

In my recent review of the Mike Bloomfield anthology, From His Head to His Heart to His Hands, I mentioned some of the artists he recorded with who are missing from the Al Kooper-produced, 3-disc set. With the aid of YouTube, here’s an alt-list of what I would have included.

The first three titles were recorded at the Sutherland Hotel in Chicago in 1964 and find the 20-year-old Bloomfield in the company of several veteran blues greats. He plays piano on the Yank Rachel session. 

Eddie Boyd  “Look Over Yonders Wall”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcqfAcllAsE

Yank Rachel “My Baby Rocks Me  “  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfsdRZ9sgqA

Sunnyland Slim “It’s You Baby”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2AgRqz2WJo

Chuck Berry was one of Bloomfield’s first models.  He and Paul Butterfield appeared together on this single that Berry made for Chess in 1966. It’s followed by covers of Berry classics by the irrepressible Mitch Ryder (1967) and blues drumming legend Sam Lay (1969), all featuring Bloomfield, who plays slide guitar with Berry.  

Chuck Berry “It Wasn’t Me/Sad Day, Long Night”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XO96VF_zA3I

Mitch Ryder “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_spT0Bgu74

Sam Lay “Roll Over Beethoven”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7oLakemTy0

Here’s Mike and fellow Chicagoan Barry Goldberg in 1967 appearing with the alto saxophonist and singer Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson.  Buddy Lucas is heard on tenor.

Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson “Alimony Blues” http://my.mail.ru/mail/alex-enm/video/651/93166.html

While Michael’s Super Session dates with Al Kooper won major acclaim upon release and now dominate the new anthology, he recorded a less heralded classic with Goldberg in ’69, Two Jews Blues.  It followed on the heels of the great music they made together as co-founders of The Electric Flag.

Barry Goldberg-Mike Bloomfield “Blues for Barry and…” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0GMVtGww-Y

That same year, Bloomers appeared under the nom de disque Makel Blumfeld on the debut release by Mother Earth.  Tracy Nelson sings the eponymous title song, a blues classic of the early ’50’s by Memphis Slim.  Mother Earth was the only San Francisco-based band that Bloomfield didn’t slam in his Rolling Stone interview. He said they were a “great band” and sounded “just like a gospel group, very moving.”  Mark Naftalin guests on piano.

Mother Earth/Tracy Nelson “Mother Earth” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ADKCMDNT5Q

James Cotton was the harp player in Muddy Waters’ band when Bloomfield and Butterfield first started sitting-in at South Side blues clubs.  Butterfield later shared a place with Cotton and recorded a three-harp boogie with him and Billy Boy Arnold.  Meanwhile, Bloomfield hailed Cotton far and wide, produced his first LP for Verve Forecast in 1966, and played on a few of his subsequent recordings.  “Long Distance Operator” was written by Bob Dylan and recorded by Cotton in 1970.

James Cotton “Long Distance Operator” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRSHFpo2mO4

This still strikes people as a bit anomalous, but Michael was eager to sit in with Woody Herman’s Orchestra on the 1971 release, Brand New.  The arrangements by Alan Broadbent didn’t do much to enhance the guitarist’s presence. but at least one title qualified as a Bloomfield tour de force.  When I played this a few months ago in Jazz a la Mode, phones and Facebook lit up with expressions of awed surprise.  Herman is the soloist on soprano saxophone.

Woody Herman “Hitch Hike on the Possum Trot Line”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ghmbx1Oli4c

While Bloomfield’s work with Paul Butterfield, Nick Gravenites, and The Electric Flag is modestly represented in From His Head to His Heart to His Hands, here are a few more essentials.  The first three are instrumentals; Fine Jung Thing is from the Electric Flag’s first recording, the soundtrack for The Trip.

Paul Butterfield Blues Band “Thank You Mr. Poobah” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeLcRj4Fz6Q

Paul Butterfield Blues Band “Work Song” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO2JAA47Mgk

The Electric Flag “Fine Jung Thing” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajP-i1yv8dY

The Electric Flag “Another Country”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UqrEf-HxRw&feature=kp

The Electric Flag “You Don’t Realize” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QM2minAQF8

Nick Gravenites “Blues on the West Side” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3HDIAKckNE

Big Joe Turner “How Long Blues” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIlwT-i2lEg


  1. says

    Hi Tom. Been awhile. I hope all is well. I listened to your whole show Monday night and enjoyed it immensely. Miles and Trane were scary. Thanks for the Bloomfield links. He was one of my idols as a teen and my entree into blues guitar. Cheers, Mark


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