Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Steve Stills: Super Session

Legendary 1968 summit, now lovingly remixed by Kooper.

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In a new sleevenote for this edition, Kooper explains that Super Session came to be when he felt not quite ready to make a solo album. Indeed, the organ-meister’s weedy vocals on Dylan’s It Takes A Lot To Laugh and Donovan’s Season Of The Witch are a big part of why Super Session is more notable for its historic significance than its actual content.

But as an artist doubling as Warner’s A&R man, Kooper pulls off a coup: Stills and Bloomfield – two great fretboard virtuosi – are given room to stretch out. Chicago’s Bloomfield, Dylan’s favourite ever guitar accompanist, is in particularly spectacular form. Even on the basically formless, of-its-time, Eastern-accented Holy Modal Majesty, Magic Mike’s terse lines and keen dynamic sense prevail.

Sadly, although then in his vocal prime, the Atlantic-contracted Stills doesn’t get to sing (apparently Kooper feared legal repercussions) but his intense, wired soloing on …Witch compensates. Neither do he and Bloomfield ever appear together, but Kooper’s new mix is certainly an improvement over the previous issue.

The multi-channel 5.1 surround-sound staging does full justice to the two endlessly inspirational guitar greats./o:p

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.