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Saturday, 26 May 2018

Electric Flag “An American Music Band” 1968 US Psych, Blues Soul Jazz Rock.R & B masterpiece


Electric Flag “An American Music Band” 1968 US Psych, Blues Soul Jazz Rock.R & B masterpiece …highly recommended..!
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Electric Flag Discography 
The Electric Flag Michael Bloomfield “Over Lovin’ You” Live at Monterey 1967  with Buddy Miles on google+
Electric Flag  "Wine “ 1967 Monterey Live on google+

Although this rather dubious collection hints that original Electric Flag members Mike Bloomfield, Harvey Brooks, Barry Goldberg, Nick Gravenites, and Buddy Miles are involved in all of these nine tracks, it seems doubtful, as is the claim that these are live archival cuts. "I Should Have Left Her” (which is really a version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor”) is definitely live, but most of these tracks appear to have been drawn from the band’s rather lifeless mid-‘70s reunion. Versions of this set have appeared under various titles over the years, including An American Music Band, Groovin’ Is Easy, Small Town Blues, I Found Out, and even under the title Great Hits (Electric Flag never even came close to having a hit). Starved Flag fans might find it worth a few bucks, but truthfully, Electric Flag were a one-album act, 1968’s A Long Time Comin’. The band fell apart as soon as it left the station, and although it managed a couple more albums in various combinations, it was the Flag in name only……by Steve Leggett….~


The original Electric Flag album, “A Long Time Comin’” was such a shot of fresh air and creativity that some of the cuts from this still send a charge up my spine: Killing Floor, Texas, Easy Rider are all wild rides that stimulate the relational centers of my brain. Mike Bloomfield was in razor-sharp form on these cuts - his guitar sound was and is Unparalleled. Yes, oh yes this is an uneven production - by this time, Bloomfield was on his way out - it was weighing him down, man. 
The second one, The Electric Flag, An American Music Band is just doggone good right through, psychedelic sould as put across by a ridiculously talented band headed by Buddy Miles. Wow! This is a rare album, for sure, but one that deserves to be heard. I particularly like Buddy’s song “Qualified”. The ballads are all spot-on and the instrumentation is ENERGIZED. Too bad this little experiment of Michael’s didn’t pan out. They started as the hit of the Monterrey Pop Festival and then sort of faded quickly away. 
Oh, I remember when and this CD sort of flashes me back to my wonderment at the excellent playing here when I was a lad. I appreciate all of this still, after 46 or so years. Impressive music!…. John F. Browning….~


For those who grew up in the 60s and 70s the Electric Flag was still an obscure band. However, there were two legendary bluesmen who featured on their album, A Long Time Coming. The late Michael Bloomfield on lead guitar was one of the greatest blues guitarist of his era. Featured on other albums such as Super Session with Stephen Stills and Al Kooper, he was a brilliant blues guitarists whose smooth soulful playing is still as good today as it was then. Buddy Miles and Bloomfield team up for Texas which, in this reviewer’s opinion, is one of the best blues songs ever written. Similarly, You Don’t Realize is one of the most beautiful blues ballads ever written. Richie Havens makes a surprise appearance on the original album as well. Killing Floor becomes Led Zeppelin’s The Lemon Song a few years later. The Electric Flag was the first major group to bring a brass sound to blues (before Chicago did). This is a great American album that you can’t go wrong with…..~


Out of the two 1968-9 Electric Flag studio albums, the second, self titled one is the better. True, it does not have Mike Bloomfield, but the sound is far superior, the arrangements are tighter, and the band seems more sure of itself. 

The album is less ambitous, but the execution is better, and there are creative flurishes: listen to the segue from Sonny into With Time There Is Change, using the flute for transition. It is all part of the dark, smokey vibe, which focuses the album more than Long Time Commin, which is great, but never quite acheives an overall mood.( I wonder what would have happened if they had started with a basic blues album like this, then tackled the more lofty work of Long Time Commin'0 
It is a shame this band broke up so soon. Both records show they had plenty of potental. Buy this twofer, and you’ll see the many ways they could have gone……~


When guitarist Mike Bloomfield left the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in 1967, he wanted to form a band that combined blues, rock, soul, psychedelia, and jazz into something new. The ambitious concept didn’t come off, despite some interesting moments; maybe it was too ambitious to hold all that weight. Bloomfield knew for sure that he wanted a horn section in the band, which he began forming with a couple of friends, keyboardist Barry Goldberg and singer Nick Gravenites. Although the three were all veterans of the Chicago music scene, the group based itself in the San Francisco area. Bloomfield, Goldberg, and Gravenites were in turn bolstered by a rhythm section of bassist Harvey Brooks (who had played on some of Bob Dylan’s mid-'60s records) and drummer Buddy Miles; on top of them came a horn section. 

Oddly, before even playing any live concerts, Electric Flag recorded the soundtrack for the 1967 psychedelic exploitation movie The Trip, which afforded them the opportunity to experiment with some of their ideas without much pressure. Their live debut was at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival (although they didn’t make it into the documentary film of the event; they do appear in the bonus footage on the DVD version), but their first proper studio album didn’t come out until the spring of 1968. 

A Long Time Comin’ was an erratic affair, predating Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago as a sort of attempt at a big-band rock sound. Calling it an early jazz-rock outing is not exactly accurate; it was more like late-'60s soul-rock-psychedelia that sometimes (but not always) employed prominent horns. Indeed, it sometimes didn’t always sound like the work of the same band – or, at least, you could say that it seemed torn between blues-rock, soul-rock, and California psychedelic influences. The album’s success is even harder to judge in light of the facts that Gravenites really wasn’t a top-notch vocalist, and that the bandmembers’ instrumental skills outshone their songwriting ones. 

There was enough promise on the album to merit further exploration, but it had hardly been released before the Flag began to droop. Goldberg left, followed shortly by Bloomfield, the most important component of the group’s vision. A fragmented band recorded an inferior follow-up, but by 1969 Electric Flag had split up. They did reunite (with Bloomfield) in 1974 for a Jerry Wexler-produced album that got little notice. ~ Richie Unterberger…..~


Mike Bloomfield left the Electric Flag shortly after the release of their debut album, as exhaustion and his heroin addiction got the better of him. The band went on without him, with drummer Buddy Miles now in control, and they found a replacement lead guitarist in Horshal Wright. Their second album was thus recorded with the lineup of Buddy Miles (drums/vocals), Nick Gravenites (vocals/rhythm guitar), Herbie Rich (keyboards/sax/vocals), Harvey Brooks (bass), Horshal Wright (lead guitar), Stemzie Hunter (sax/vocals), Peter Strazza (sax) and Marcus Doubleday (trumpet). It was produced by John Simon (who also played some keyboards), and was released in late 1968. 
Without the presence of Bloomfield interest in this second album has never been high, which is a shame as its a truly great mix of rock, blues, soul and jazz, and arguably just as good (if not better!) than the band’s better-known debut, featuring strong original material (plus Dr John’s “Qualified), great arrangements, talented musicianship, and vocals shared between the different members. However this version of the band did not last, and before long they had split. Buddy Miles went on to form his own group (Buddy Miles Express), which Herbie Rich also joined, and he later worked with Jimi Hendrix. Nick Gravenites went on to work as a producer and briefly joined Big Brother & The Holding Company, whilst Harvey Brooks returned to session work…..~


Mike Bloomfield didn’t play on the album as he had left in May 1968.Herbie Rich now played a more active part on the album. His organ solos can be heard on "Hey, Little Girl”, and their rendition of Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny” with Buddy Miles on vocals. Rich also did the sax solo and sang lead on a song called “Qualified”. He also did the sax solo for “ My Woman That Hangs Around The House” and took care of the horn arrangements for “ Mystery”. Buddy Miles also was now more prominent and he was the only member featured on the album’s cover….~


1968 Big Brother & The Holding Company, Electric Flag and Sweetwater performing at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, Santa Barbara, California.





The short-lived but successful Electric Flag was formed in 1967 by guitarist Mike Bloomfield after he’d left The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, ostensibly to give original guitarist Elvin Bishop, in Mike’s words, “A little space.” Undoubtedly he had also become uncomfortable with Paul Butterfield’s position as bandleader and was anxious to lead his own band. When Bloomfield left, he brought vocalist Nick Gravenites with him. The rest of the original group was a collection of seasoned professionals from some of America’s most successful bands. Drummer Buddy Miles had done session work with Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett, bassist Harvey Brooks had been with Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Judy Collins. Keyboard player Barry Goldberg had previously played with Steve Miller and Mitch Ryder, Peter Strazza on tenor saxophone had also played for Miller. Trumpeter Marcus Doubleday had backed The Drifters, Jan And Dean as well as Bobby Vinton. Herbie Rich, a well seasoned session man, completed the ensemble on baritone sax . 
Oddly, before even playing any live concerts, the group recorded the soundtrack for the 1967 psychedelic exploitation movie, The Trip, which afforded them the opportunity to experiment with some of their ideas without much pressure. Their live debut was at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, although they didn’t make it into the documentary film of the event. Their first album, “A Long Time Comin’” was released in the Spring of 1968 with additional members Stemziel (Stemsy) Hunter and Mike Fonfara. It was an erratic collection, predating Blood, Sweat And Tears and Chicago as an attempt to fuse the Big Band sound with Hard Rock. The album’s success is difficult to judge, in light of the facts that Gravenites really wasn’t a top-notch vocalist, and that the band’s instrumental skills outshone their songwriting. It did manage to reach # 31 in the U.S. album charts. 

There was enough promise on the album to merit further exploration, but it had hardly been released before The Flag began to droop. Drugs, egos, and poor management started to take their toll. Goldberg left, followed shortly by Bloomfield, the most important component of the group’s vision. Buddy Miles, however, was determined to keep the band together and recorded a second album titled simply, “The Electric Flag”. Despite climbing to number 76, the record failed to mask the internal turmoil that hard drug abuse and internal stresses had created and which led to the band’s disintegration in 1969. They did reunite for a studio project with Mama Cass shortly after, which was completed, then promptly shelved. 

Miles went on to form The Buddy Miles Express and later joined Jimi Hendrix’s Band Of Gypsies, while Gravenites worked briefly for Big Brother And The Holding Company before becoming a songwriting legend in San Francisco. He would later produce Brewer And Shipley’s US Top Ten hit, “One Toke Over The Line”. Brooks, following years of session work that included the Bloomfield/ Al Kooper / Stephen Stills Super Session, reappeared as a member of Sky. 

Bloomfield, weary of the road, suffering from insomnia, and uncomfortable in the role of guitar superstar, returned to San Francisco to score movies, produce other artists, and play studio sessions. One of those sessions was a day of jamming in the studio with keyboardist Al Kooper, who had previously worked with Bloomfield on the 1965 Dylan sessions. “Super Session”, the resultant release, with Bloomfield on side one and guitarist Stephen Stills on side two, once again thrust Bloomfield into the spotlight. Kooper’s production and the improvisational nature of the recording session captured the quintessential Bloomfield sound: the fast flurries of notes, the incredible string bending, the precise attack, and his masterful use of tension and release. Although “Super Session” was the most successful recording of his career, Bloomfield considered it to be a scam, more of an excuse to sell records than a pursuit of musical goals. After a follow-up 'live’ album, he retired to San Francisco and lowered his visibility. 

In the seventies Bloomfield played gigs in the San Francisco area and infrequently toured as Bloomfield And Friends, a group which usually included Mark Naftalin and Nick Gravenites. Bloomfield also occasionally helped out friends by lending his name to recording projects and business propositions, such as the ill-fated Electric Flag reunion in 1974. In the mid-seventies Bloomfield recorded a number of albums with a more Traditional Blues focus for smaller record labels. He also recorded an instructional album of various Blues styles for Guitar Player magazine. 

By the late seventies Bloomfield’s continuing drug and health problems caused erratic behavior and missed gigs, alienating a number of his old associates. In the Summer of 1980 he toured Italy with classical guitarist Woody Harris and cellist Maggie Edmondson. On November 15, 1980, he joined Bob Dylan on stage at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco and jammed on “Like A Rolling Stone”, the song they had recorded together 15 years earlier. Sadly, Michael Bloomfield was found dead in his car of a drug overdose in San Francisco, California on February 15th, 1981. 

On July 28th and 29th, 2007, a one-time reunion of The Electric Flag, anchored by original members Gravenites, Goldberg and Hunter, took place at a show at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival. The original members were backed by members of the Tower Of Power and The Blues Project. They played a one hour set featuring material from the first album, as well as several Blues covers. 
Drummer Buddy Miles passed away on February 26th, 2008 at the age of 60…….~



Credits 
Alto Saxophone, Vocals – Stemsy Hunter 
Baritone Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Virgil Gonsalves 
Bass, Guitar, Vocals, Producer, Liner Notes – Harvey Brooks 
Drums, Vocals – Buddy Miles 
Guitar – Hoshal Wright 
Organ, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals – Herbie Rich 
Piano, Producer – John Simon 
Tenor Saxophone – Terry Clements (2) 
Trumpet – Marcus Doubleday 
Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Percussion, Liner Notes – Nick Gravenites



Tracklist 
A1 Soul Searchin’ 2:58 
A2 Sunny 3:43 
A3 With Time There Is Change 3:30 
A4 Nothing To Do 4:50 
A5 See To Your Neighbor 2:42 
B1 Qualified 7:08 
B2 Hey, Little Girl 2:55 
B3 Mystery 3:53 
B4 My Woman That Hangs Around The House 3:15












The Electric Flag Concert Poster




Harvey Brooks, Herbie Rich and Mike Bloomfield rehearse in their Sausalito Heliport practice room as Buddy Miles conducts in the fall of 1967. From The Photography of Rock, Bobbs-Merrill 1972

Michael Bloomfield onstage with Nick Gravenites and the Electric Flag at the Fillmore Auditorium on April 25, 1968. Photo by Carmelo Macias, courtesy of Frank Macias

Newport Folk Festival

The Electric Flag onstage at the Fillmore Auditorium, August 29, 1967. From left, Barry Goldberg (hidden), Nick Gravenites, Michael Bloomfield, Buddy Miles (behind drums), Harvey Brooks, unknown and Peter Strazza.

Former members 
Mike Bloomfield — lead guitars, vocals (1967–1968, 1974; died 1981) 
Barry Goldberg — keyboards (1967, 1974, 2007) 
Harvey Brooks — bass (1967–1969) 
Stemzie Hunter - saxophone (1967–1969, 2007) 
Buddy Miles — drums, vocals (1967–1969, 1974; died 2008) 
Nick Gravenites — rhythm guitars, vocals (1967–1969, 1974, 2007) 
Peter Strazza — saxophone (1967–1969) 
Marcus Doubleday — trumpet (1967–1969) 
Michael Fonfara — keyboards (1967) 
Herb Rich — keyboards, saxophone (1967–1969; died 2004) 
Roger Troy — bass, vocals (1974) 
John Simon - keyboards, arranger (1969) 

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