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Junko Partner

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Album Review

Junko Partner arrived with little fanfare a couple of years after Mike Bloomfield's too early death, filled with sublime music but little information. The Akarma reissue remasters the album for CD, but retains the artwork, with the new sleeve notes shedding little light on the set. But this much is obvious: Junko Partner was recorded live, and not too well, in front of a small, surprisingly quiet, but still appreciative crowd, with the legendary guitarist accompanied by an excellent drummer and standup bassist, and a pianist whose talent rivals Bloomfield's own. They go uncredited and unacknowledged, as does the date and location of the gig. Wherever and whenever it was, the audience was treated to a fabulous show, as Bloomfield and his band leisurely stroll through two of his own compositions and eight blues, R&B, and rock chestnuts. Some of the pieces were seemingly selected and arranged to showcase his pianist — notably the barreling R&B take on "Wings of an Angel," the ragtime "Walking the Floor Over You," the dose of "Rx for the Blues," and the swaggering title track. Bloomfield steps up to share the spotlight on the fabulous "Don't You Lie to Me," a stunner of a number that fades out way too soon, with his own songs "Knockin' Myself Out" and "Women Lovin' Each Other" equally spectacular showcases for his skills — alongside a breathtaking "Cherry Red," brightly painted with his liquid leads and smoldering solos, these three songs are worth the price of entry alone, although a lighthearted take on the traditional "You Must Have Seen Jesus" is also of note. Bloomfield handles the vocals better than one would expect and the sound quality is the best one could wring from these old analog tapes, while the laid-back atmosphere provides a grand opportunity for the legend to illustrate that even in his declining years he could still knock your socks off. A reminder, if any were needed, of Bloomfield's ferocious talent.

Biography

Born: 28 July 1943 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

Michael Bloomfield was one of America's first great white blues guitarists, earning his reputation on the strength of his work in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. His expressive, fluid solo lines and prodigious technique graced many other projects — most notably Bob Dylan's earliest electric forays — and he also pursued a solo career, with variable results. Uncomfortable with the reverential treatment afforded a guitar hero, Bloomfield tended to shy away from the spotlight after spending...
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