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Monday, February 11, 2013

The Electric Flag - Live (1968-74 us, classic blues rock, 1999 Get Back digipak edition)

The nine cuts on this disc have been issued under a number of different titles. The cover art is designed to conjure memories of the Electric Flag's groundbreaking full-length debut, Long Time Comin' (1968), intimating that these archival performances are documented by the first incarnation of the band. For starters, the only live tracks included in the package are the vintage "Killin' Floor" (which is erroneously titled "I Should Have Left Her"), "You Don't Realize," and "Groovin' Is Easy." While it is indeed possible that these three songs were recorded during the original band's initial run from 1967 to 1969, the fidelity intimates that they were documented during the group's even shorter revival in the mid-'70s, which spawned the LP Band Kept Playing (1974). 

However, definitively sourcing the remainder of the seven sides is a bit of a mystery. One sonic giveaway that these recordings could possibly be dated even later than 1974 is the use of a multi-function keyboard in place of what should be Barry Goldberg's acoustic piano. "It's Not the Spotlight" is a slow R&B ballad with vocals reminiscent of Billy Preston or perhaps Buddy Miles. However, the upfront Chicago-style blues guitar virtuosity of the Electric Flag's top-shelf stringmen Michael Bloomfield and Nick Gravenites seems to be present. The searing leads running through "I Was Robbed Last Night" or "My Baby Wants to Test Me" likely belong to either, or perhaps respectively, both. Additionally, the latter title stands out as one of the stronger cuts on the disc.

The three actual live tracks are good, if not somewhat rote. The best out of the pack is "Groovin' Is Easy," as the bandmembers don't overextend themselves. The horn section is quite cohesive and offers the same textural contrast as the album versions. All said, The Electric Flag: Live is a worthwhile curio rather than the unearthed musical treasure one might hope exists.
by Lindsay Planer

1. It's Not the Spotlight - 3:46
2. I Was Robbed Last Night - 4:40
3. I Found Out - 3:10
4. Never Be Lonely Again - 3:36
5. Losing Game - 3:19
6. My Baby Wants to Test Me - 8:18
7. I Should Have Left Her - 4:10
8. You Don't Realize - 5:13
9. Groovin' Is Easy - 4:23

The Electric Flag 
*Michael Bloomfield - Guitar, Vocals
*Harvey Brooks - Bass
*Marcus Doubleday - Trumpet
*Nick Gravenites - Vocals, Guitar
*Stemsy Hunter - Alto Sax
*Buddy Miles - Drums
*Herbie Rich - Organ, Baritone Saxophone, Guitar, Vocals
*Peter Strazza – Tenor Saxophone

1968-69  Electric Flag - An American Music Band / A Long Time Comin'

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  1. I've only heard bits & pieces from this one. Thanks a lot...

  2. I just saw a nice doc on Bloomfield last night and wanted to check this one out. thanks!!!!

  3. This one is originally known as Groovin' is easy. Issued in 1969.

  4. yep, it's Groovin' Is Easy LP

  5. New date info:

    The Electric Flag 1983 Groovin' Is Easy
    MMG Distribution CDTB 006 (P)1983

    Tracks 01-05: 1974 Outtakes
    Tracks 06-09: 1968 San Francisco Live


    01 - Spotlight
    02 - I Was Robbed Last Night
    03 - I Found Out
    04 - Never Be Lonely Again
    05 - Losing Game

    06 - My Baby Wants To Test Me
    07 - I Should Have Left Her
    08 - You Don't Realise
    09 - Groovin' Is Easy

    The Electric Flag:

    Michael Bloomfield, guitars
    Harvey Brooks, bass
    Nick Gravenites, vocal, percussion
    Sivuca, guitar, percussion
    Barry Goldberg, keyboards
    Herbie Rich, keyboards, tenor sax
    Mike Fonfara, keyboards
    Buddy Miles, drums, percussion
    Peter Strazza, tenor sax
    Marcus Doubleday, trumpet
    Richie Havens, sitar
    Paul Berver, moog synthesizer