CS 9701 Super Session
Produced by Al Kooper
Released on August 1968
US CHART POSITION #12 . . . GOLD RECORD (12/4/70)
Find it at GEMM
CS 9701 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

O ne of the great blues-rock jam sessions on record. Apparently. Like jazz, this stuff tends to go in one ear and out the other for me, whooshing through my head with a taunting whisper. I guess you had to be there, or be there and somewhere else at the same time, where the pungent playing of Mike Bloomfield tugged at your aura like a fly caught in a web. Given the small space I’ve cleared out in my life for blues-rock, I can do just fine with a handful of recordings from The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Jimi Hendrix, Cream; no need to super-size that selection, I say. But blues-rock was a burgeoning field in 1968, and Super Session did become an important part of the original blueprint. No matter that they never did build that house to the scale they first imagined, the idealism of it is still intoxicating. The record is split between two sessions; the first with guitarist Mike Bloomfield, the second with Steve Stills. Both sessions are cited as spontaneous with horns added later to flesh things out (Al Kooper could never leave things well enough alone). Some of the songs feature vocals by Kooper, a middling singer who does manage to energize Donovan’s “Season of the Witch.” The initial attraction for me was to hear Steve Stills let his hair down and cut loose with some great soloing, which doesn’t happen. The instrumental heavyweights here are Bloomfield and Kooper, the latter lighting the material on fire with his organ and, on “His Hold Modal Majesty,” a weird device called the Ondioline that has to be heard to be believed. While I've given this an orange rating, I defer to the experts: the people who “get” jazz and blues-rock and hear in it the pinnacle of musical achievement. Super Session is certainly no mere jam session -- in walking through Hendrix’ abandoned cupboard you won’t find any tastier jams -- but I don’t see God in the details either, and apparently some did. The production and engineering are excellent, one of the best preserved artifacts from the ‘60s, so plunking down cash for the CD (or MFSL remaster) is advised if you’re planning on taking a trip with Super Session.

CS 9701 back cover
CS 9701 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. ALBERT'S SHUFFLE    (Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield)    6:43
  2. STOP    (Ragavoy/Shuman)    4:23
  3. MAN'S TEMPTATION    (Curtis Mayfield)    3:25
  4. HIS HOLY MODAL MAJESTY    (Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield)    9:13
  5. REALLY    (Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield)    5:29
  6. IT TAKES A LOT TO LAUGH, IT TAKES A TRAIN TO CRY    (Bob Dylan)    3:30
  7. SEASON OF THE WITCH    (Donovan)    11:07
  8. YOU DON'T LOVE ME    (Willie Cobb)    4:12
  9. HARVEY'S TUNE    (Harvey Brooks)    2:09

    CD reissue bonus tracks
  10. ALBERT'S SHUFFLE
  11. SEASONS OF THE WITCH
  12. BLUES FOR NOTHING
  13. FAT GREY CLOUD

CREDITS

MIKE BLOOMFIELD -- electric guitar (side 1 only)
HARVEY BROOKS -- bass
EDDIE HOH -- drums
AL KOOPER -- piano, organ, ondioline, vocals, 12-string guitar, electric guitar, horn arrangements
STEVE STILLS -- electric guitar (side 2 only)
Barry Goldberg -- electric piano
Joey Scott -- horn arrangements
Fred Catero -- engineer
Roy Halee -- engineer
Jim Marshall -- cover photos, back cover photos
E. Landy -- cover photos

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US August 1968 Columbia LP CS 9701  
UK 1968 CBS LP S63396  
UK 1973 Embassy LP EMB31029  
US   Columbia R2R CQ 1075  
US   Columbia LPQ CQ 30991 quadrophonic stereo
US January 20, 1987 Columbia LP/CD/CS PC/CK/PCT 9701  
US   Mobile Fidelity LP MFSL-1-178 original master recording
US April 8, 2003 Legacy CDX 63406 digital remaster w. bonus tracks
NET 2003 Capitol CDX 508071 digital remaster w. bonus tracks

 

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