Saturday, March 27, 2010
The Electric Flag - A Long Time Comin' 1968
This album was *after* Bloomfield's time with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. It came out about the same time as Al Kooper's Blood Sweat & Tears (the one album *before* David Clayton Thomas). And it was *before* The Chicago Transit Authority (later Chicago). These three *rock* bands with horns were a new thing, way back then. And while all of their initial albums contained some great music, my favorite is still this debut by American Flag. The songs are consistently a bit better, and the music a little less forced than the other two. Nick Gravenites' vocals are easily the best. Buddy Miles' comin'-at-you-like-a-steamroller drumming is a real thrill (a style matched only, I think, by Tim Davis of the then Steve Miller Band). And, though others might argue, I think Mike Bloomfield's guitar was never better than on this album. The combined effect is, indeed, one of the best rock albums of the 60s.
As I look back, I can only wish that all three of these bands had put out more than they did in their original styles of music. True, I do like the Buddy Miles Express (some of it quite a bit!). And I do like most of the first three Chicago albums (though none of the later ones). And I truly *dislike* everything Blood, Sweat & Tears did with Thomas. But, wouldn't it have been nice if we'd had a little more like these early ones? Oh, well...what we've got is nice to have. Good stuff from a time of a lot of fine music.
By Jon G. Jackson.
When this album first appeared in early 1968, underground freeform FM radio was in its heyday and the songs on "A Long Time Comin'" were a mainstay on underground radio. AM radio didn't know what to make of a band that combined blues, folk, jazz, rock and -- at times -- even classical modes in a sound that was astounding. This was the Bay Area's answer to New York's Blood, Sweat & Tears and it was an incredibly worthy answer indeed. Al Kooper built the original BS&T from the ashes of the little-known Blues Project, while The Electric Flag's Mike Bloomfield came from even headier stuff -- namely, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, where Bloomfield proved that a Jewish kid can have the blues -- real blues. To cover what other musicians in this band made this such an incredible group would take pages as there are so many of them. Buddy Miles handled the drums (who'd later launch his own Buddy Miles Express before joining Hendrix in the Band of Gypsies). Barry Goldberg added keys that were exquisite before leaving to form Barry Goldberg's Reunion. The horns in the Flag were more brash and bluesy than the classically-trained jazz musings of their New York contemporaries, BS&T. These guys could cook and when they turned up the heat, no audience I ever saw them perform to was able to withstand the spell they created live. The songs on this album are a remarkable testament to the precision, eloquence and power of the Electric Flag. Wow. Even the memory of these guys live is powerful. This album is their greatest recorded legacy.
By R. Lindeboom .
Mike Bloomfield - guitar, percussion
Nick Gravenites - vocals, guitar
Barry Goldberg - keyboards
Buddy Miles - drums percussion
Harvey Brooks - bass, guitar
Marcus Doubleday - trumpet, percussion
Peter Strazza - tenor sax
Herbie Rich - guitar, saxophone
A1. Killing Floor 4:11
A2. Groovin' Is Easy 3:05
A3. Over-Lovin' You 2:10
A4. She Should Have Just 5:04
A5. Wine 3:15
B1. Texas 4:48
B2. Sittin' in Circles 3:53
B3. You Don't Realize (Dedicated With Great Respect to Steve Cropper and Otis Redding) 4:58
B4. Another Country 8:46
B5. Easy Rider 0:50