In the 1960′s there were few guitarists more prolific and higher profile than Michael Bloomfield. Cutting his teeth with blues masters like Muddy Waters, session playing for Bob Dylan’s famed Highway 61 and backing him up at the legendary “electric” Newport Folk performance of 1965, then serving an essential role in the white rediscovery of the blues with the Paul Butterfield Band before playing at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival with his own band Electric Flag. What could be considered a career of legendary status for most, it was not a bad decade for Mike. In the 70′s he continued to do session work, collaborating frequently with fellow Dylan alum Al Kooper. Plagued by constant insomnia and personal demons, Bloomfield would die of an overdose in 1981. In an effort to elevate his old friend to the legend status he deserves, Al Kooper put together “From His Head to His Heart to His Hands”, a 3 CD box set showcasing some of his finest work. The DVD documentary, ” Sweet Blues” is included as well, profiling Bloomfield at work through all phases of his professional career. For anyone interested in blues, the San Francisco music scene in the late 60′s or the blues revival in America, this is as good a place as any to start. And when you hear his electric guitar, give a nod to Michael Bloomfield.
In 1971 the band played a four night run at New York’s Academy of Music that culminated in a powerhouse New Years Eve show. In 71′ the tightest band in rock n’ roll was at an apex, ripping through their extensive repertoire. Recordings of this run were originally released in 1972 as the double LP “Rock of Ages,” but now the shows are getting the just in time for the holidays box set treatment. The five disc set includes many never before released versions of Band classics including the entire New Years Eve set which features a visit from old bandleader Bob Dylan himself. At this time Dylan was just beginning to step back into the spotlight after his 1966 motorcycle accident, and his presence here is the kind of the thing that makes history major rock nerds like myself giddy.
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