Super Session

Super Session is an album by Al Kooper, with guitarists Mike Bloomfield on the first half and Stephen Stills on the second half of the album. Released by Columbia Records in 1968, it peaked at number 12 on the Billboard 200, and has been certified a gold record by the RIAA, spending 37 weeks on the charts.[1][2]

Super Session
Supersession.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 22, 1968 (1968-07-22)
RecordedMay 1968
GenreBlues, rock
Length50:22
LabelColumbia
ProducerAl Kooper
Mike Bloomfield chronology
Super Session
(1968)
It's Not Killing Me
(1969)
Al Kooper chronology
Super Session
(1968)
I Stand Alone
(1969)
Stephen Stills chronology
Super Session
(1968)
Stephen Stills
(1970)

BackgroundEdit

Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield had previously worked together on the sessions for the ground-breaking classic Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan, as well as playing in support of his controversial appearance at the Newport Folk Festival in July 1965. Kooper had recently left Blood, Sweat & Tears after recording their debut album with them, and was now working as an A&R man for Columbia. Bloomfield was about to leave Electric Flag, and at relative loose ends. Kooper telephoned Bloomfield to see if he was free to come down to the studio and jam; Bloomfield agreed, leaving Kooper to handle the arrangements.[3]

Kooper booked two days of studio time in May 1968, and recruited keyboardist Barry Goldberg and bassist Harvey Brooks, both members of the Electric Flag, along with well-known session drummer "Fast" Eddie Hoh. On the first day, the quintet recorded a group of mostly blues-based instrumental tracks, including a modal excursion "His Holy Modal Majesty", a tribute to the late John Coltrane that was also reminiscent of "East-West" from the second Butterfield Blues Band album. On the second day, with the tapes ready to roll, Bloomfield did not show up.[4]

Needing to have something to show for the second day of sessions, to sit in for Bloomfield, Kooper hastily called upon Stephen Stills, also in the process of leaving his band Buffalo Springfield. Regrouping behind Stills, Kooper's session men cut mostly vocal tracks, including "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" from Highway 61 and a lengthy and atmospheric take of "Season of the Witch" by Donovan.[5]

Harvey Brooks closing tune "Harvey's Tune" had some overdubbed horns that were later added while the album was being mixed, and sales worth a gold record award were garnered from an album which cost just $13,000 to make. The success of this record opened the door for the "supergroup" concept of the late 1960s and 1970s — Blind Faith, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and the like. Kooper forgave Bloomfield, and the two of them made several concert appearances after the album was released. The results of one of those became the album The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper.[6]

ReleasesEdit

Along with the stereo version, Super Session was released as a 4-channel quadraphonic version in the 1970s. The quadraphonic version was released on SQ matrix encoded vinyl and discrete 8-track cartridge tape. Later in the 2000s, it was intended that it would be remixed for the new 5.1 channel version to be released on SACD. But in late 2004, Al Kooper commented:

To the best of my knowledge, based on an unnamed source, the new head of SONY/BMG shut down the 5.1 SACD department and let everyone go. A year and a half ago I remixed Super Session and Child Is Father to the Man for them in 5.1 SACD. They both came out incredible and so I mastered them with Bob Ludwig. Now it seems they will languish on the shelves under the current administration of SONY/BMG ...Typical, in soooo many ways." [7]

On April 8, 2003, Legacy Records reissued the album on compact disc with four bonus tracks, including both an outtake and a live track with Bloomfield, and two with the horn overdubs mixed out.

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [8]
Rolling Stone(positive) [9]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [10]

Track listingEdit

Side one (Al Kooper & Mike Bloomfield)
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Albert's Shuffle"Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield6:54
2."Stop"Jerry Ragovoy, Mort Shuman4:23
3."Man's Temptation"Curtis Mayfield3:24
4."His Holy Modal Majesty"Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield9:16
5."Really"Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield5:30
Side two: Al Kooper & Stephen Stills
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry"Bob Dylan3:30
2."Season of the Witch"Donovan Leitch11:07
3."You Don't Love Me"Willie Cobbs4:11
4."Harvey's Tune"Harvey Brooks2:07
Total length:50:22

2003 reissue bonus tracks

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
10."Albert's Shuffle" (2002 remix without horns)Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield6:58
11."Season of the Witch" (2002 remix without horns)Donovan Leitch11:07
12."Blues for Nothing" (outtake)Al Kooper4:15
13."Fat Grey Cloud" (in concert at the Fillmore West, 1968)Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield4:38

PersonnelEdit

Additional personnel

ChartsEdit

Chart performance for Super Session
Chart (1968–1972) Peak
position
US Billboard Top LPs[11] 12
Canadian RPM 100 Albums[12] 15
Dutch Hitparade[13] 18
Spanish Album Charts[14] 25
US Cash Box Top 100 Albums[15] 18
US Record World Album Chart[16] 14

CertificationEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[17] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ RIAA Database retrieved August 21, 2014
  2. ^ "Mike Bloomfield". Billboard. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  3. ^ Bloomfield website Kooper calls Bloomfield retrieved September 7, 2010.
  4. ^ Bloomfied on-line biography as above, p. 2.
  5. ^ MikeBloomfield.com Archived March 28, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ SuiteLorraine.com Archived December 4, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Blogcritics.org (PDF) Archived June 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Planer, L. (2011). "Super Session - Bloomfield-Kooper-Stills". AllMusic. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  9. ^ Brody, Jim (October 12, 1968). "Records". Rolling Stone.
  10. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  11. ^ "Stephen Stills". Billboard. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  12. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (2013-04-16). "The RPM story". www.bac-lac.gc.ca. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  13. ^ "Super Session". hitparade.ch. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  14. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002. Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  15. ^ "Cash Box Magazine: Music and coin machine magazine 1942 to 1996". Retrieved July 7, 2020 – via worldradiohistory.com.
  16. ^ "Record World Magazine: 1942 to 1982". Retrieved July 5, 2020 – via worldradiohistory.com.
  17. ^ "American album certifications – BLOOMFIELD / KOOPER / STILLS – SUPER SESSION". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 9 June 2016. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.