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Knockin' Myself Out

Mike Bloomfield

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Album Review

"Compiled and remastered by Bloomfield producer Norman Dayron," touts the sticker on the front of this 14-track collection, lending it authenticity despite the fact it also claims this is "the best of Bloomfield in the '70s." Actually, these tracks originate from just four Tacoma albums recorded from 1977-1980 (along with one unreleased rarity), making this a wiser purchase than the existing ten-cut Best of Michael Bloomfield that covers the same years. Although he is considered one of the most influential guitarists of the '60s, his six-string talents are generally downplayed here as he takes short solos that often sound muddy and blurry. Certainly this was what Bloomfield wanted, as he was tired of the guitar-hero tag and attempted to make music more organic and less star-oriented. That's a mixed blessing for listeners, especially since his untrained vocals are an acquired taste and this blend of Chicago, country, and ragtime blues only occasionally emits the Albert King-influenced sparks Bloomfield was lauded for during his Butterfield Blues Band prime. Even when he does kick into a tight, electrifying solo, as on "Orphan's Blues," the sound is so ambiguous that it takes a few listens to notice Bloomfield's talent. Better is his subtle slide work on the gospel instrumentals "At the Cross" and "The Gospel Truth, which show him to be in Duane Allman's class as a soulful and warm player with finesse who never overdoes his sound. His acoustic country blues instrumental "Mr. Johnson and Mr. Dunn" is sweet and rootsy, but originals such as "Peachtree Man" and a cover of "It'll Be Me" (made famous by Jerry Lee Lewis) don't resonate, mainly because of the indistinct production and Bloomfield's unremarkable voice. The previously unreleased, nearly seven-minute "Crisco Kid," a Latin-tinged, semi-disco takeoff on War's "Cisco Kid" with non-PC lyrics and Bloomfield's gruff vocals buried in the mix, could just as well have stayed in the can. It was originally banned because of its description of gay male sex by a skittish Tacoma, and even though the guitar solo running through the tune is terrific, it doesn't jump out of the mix. The song's repetitive riff doesn't help, making it for diehards only. Definitely not the place to begin a Bloomfield collection, this nonetheless compiles highlights from some extremely patchy albums and shows the guitarist, for better or worse, playing in the context he felt most comfortable with.

Knockin' Myself Out, Mike Bloomfield
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