Blues, Blues, Blues. Blues at its best.
This album was a project put together by Al Kooper. Al had just left Blood, Sweat and Tears. It was 1968. He recruited Mike Bloomfield to play guitar for this project. They had known each other since playing together on Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 revisited. He also had Stephen Sills in on the project. Still was in the process of leaving The Buffalo Springfield at the time.
Al Kooper played the VERY well-known keyboard part in ‘Like a Rolling Stone.’ In fact, he got the gig mostly by accident. He was invited to the session to play guitar. When he arrived, he heard Mike Bloomfield warming up. Feeling that Bloomfield was the much better player he just went and sat in the control room, feeling disappointed that he wouldn’t be on a Dylan album after all.
As the session progressed, organ player Paul Griffin was moved to piano. Seeing an opening, Al begged producer Tom Wilson to allow him to play this ‘great organ part’ that he had in his head. That was all BS of course. Wilson replied that ‘Al, you’re not an organ player, you’re a guitar player. ’ He asked again and kept getting no for an answer from Wilson. But then he got his break. Tom Wilson jumped to take a phone call so Al Kooper quickly entered the studio and sat behind the organ. Wilson returned to find Kooper playing. In fact, if you listen closely, Kooper comes in an eighth note behind the rest of the band to be sure that he’s playing the right chords! When they went to the playback, Dylan was thrilled and asked to have the Al’s keyboard parts pushed to the front.
Full disclosure: That story was told by Kooper in the 2005 Martin Scorsese documentary film, No Direction Home: Bob Dylan for the PBS American Masters Series.
Back to Supper Session, Bloomfield ads the guitar work to side one. Kooper brought in Stephen Stills to play on the second side. The Stills side includes covers of Dylan’s, ‘It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry’ and also Donovan Leitch’s ‘Season of the Whitch.’
I’ve included all the tracks from the original album on a playlist below.
Check out some good blues!
Supper Sessions made it’s way up to #12 on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart in 1968.
- “Albert’s Shuffle” (Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper) – 6:54
- “Stop” (Jerry Ragovoy, Mort Shuman) – 4:23
- “Man’s Temptation” (Curtis Mayfield) – 3:24
- “His Holy Modal Majesty” (Bloomfield, Kooper) – 9:16
- “Really” (Bloomfield, Kooper) – 5:30
- “It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry” (Bob Dylan) – 3:30
- “Season of the Witch” (Donovan Leitch) – 11:07
- “You Don’t Love Me” (Willie Cobbs) – 4:11
- “Harvey’s Tune” (Harvey Brooks) – 2:07
- Al Kooper – vocals, piano, organ, ondioline, electric guitar, twelve-string guitar
- Mike Bloomfield – guitars side one
- Stephen Stills – guitars side two
- Barry Goldberg – electric piano on “Albert’s Shuffle” and “Stop”
- Harvey Brooks – bass
- Eddie Hoh – drums, percussion
Here are some additional Blues album to check out