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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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