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Electric Flag

When guitarist Mike Bloomfield left the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in 1967, he wanted to form a band that combined blues, rock, soul, psychedelia, and jazz into something new. The ambitious concept didn't come off, despite some interesting moments; maybe it was too ambitious to hold all that weight. Bloomfield knew for sure that he wanted a horn section in the band, which he began forming with a couple of friends, keyboardist Barry Goldberg and singer Nick Gravenites. Although the three were all veterans of the Chicago music scene, the group based itself in the San Francisco area. Bloomfield, Goldberg, and Gravenites were in turn bolstered by a rhythm section of bassist Harvey Brooks (who had played on some of Bob Dylan's mid-'60s records) and drummer Buddy Miles; on top of them came a horn section.

Oddly, before even playing any live concerts, Electric Flag recorded the soundtrack for the 1967 psychedelic exploitation movie The Trip, which afforded them the opportunity to experiment with some of their ideas without much pressure. Their live debut was at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival (although they didn't make it into the documentary film of the event; they do appear in the bonus footage on the DVD version), but their first proper studio album didn't come out until the spring of 1968.

A Long Time Comin' was an erratic affair, predating Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago as a sort of attempt at a big-band rock sound. Calling it an early jazz-rock outing is not exactly accurate; it was more like late-'60s soul-rock-psychedelia that sometimes (but not always) employed prominent horns. Indeed, it sometimes didn't always sound like the work of the same band -- or, at least, you could say that it seemed torn between blues-rock, soul-rock, and California psychedelic influences. The album's success is even harder to judge in light of the facts that Gravenites really wasn't a top-notch vocalist, and that the bandmembers' instrumental skills outshone their songwriting ones.

There was enough promise on the album to merit further exploration, but it had hardly been released before the Flag began to droop. Goldberg left, followed shortly by Bloomfield, the most important component of the group's vision. A fragmented band recorded an inferior follow-up, but by 1969 Electric Flag had split up. They did reunite (with Bloomfield) in 1974 for a Jerry Wexler-produced album that got little notice. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Good guitar player, horrible singer. I couldn't listen to any of his solo work
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I love anything Bloomfield touched. Buddy Miles was a great added treat.
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kentastic329
Hey kurt, how about SUPERSESSION THE AND IT WAS
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Truly INDISPUTABLE ONE of the best sounds made
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kvons1
A mere 16 yr. old kid when I bought the debut of this album---FLAS H 45 yrs!------me m o r i e s .
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kvons1
Electric Flag--GREAT band at the time, but NOT Mike Bloomfields all time best. His peak was with Paul Butterfield and / or Al Kooper (opinion)
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I was in love with this album..... I wore the grooves out!
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I'll never get tired of this band.
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BYW my original comment was effin' brilliant, but now you'll never know...
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suffice it to say, Unterberger' s wrong, wrong, wrong. A Long Time Comin' hit w/ a major splash. Nothing like it at the time. The notion that all songs on an album should sound the same is a recent idea.
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what did they do, erase all the comments?
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Oh yes! Michael Bloomfield Buddy Miles Musical ICONS XO 4 ever! A great band I'll say!
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Truth be told, these guys invented jazz rock: Buddy Miles, Harvey Brooks, Michael Bloomfield.. . M y goodness...!
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ELECTRIC FLAG is a rea ICON....Abso l u t e l y phenomenal! I have been singing these tunes since 1968....The Best I do say! All great great musicians! /singer/me
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kvons1
I Was Robbed Last Night----one of the Flag's best!
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kvons1
RIP: Mike Bloomfield & Buddy Miles------- - 2 true greats!
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WORD
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like like yesterday ... BADASS !!!
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Richie Cunterberger is a hack.
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billlund24
I was 17 at the time of Monterey. Maybe the high mark of the times. Bloomfield had left the lead guitar in Butterfield' s band to Elvin. When Electric Flag, it was the highlight of the day.....spec t a c u l a r . . . t h e energy, the horns, they lifted the crowd. There was one more highlight with the young man from Seattle..... b a b y , believe me HE set the night on FIRE......se e m s like yesterday.
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stevan85
I agree with Eric. Whoever this Richie Unterberger, Rovi is, he obviously has got no clue for musical talent...jus t an affinity for big words! Electric Flag produced some great sounds!
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I find Mike Bloomfield's guitar style to be a big influence in my guitar playing style today 40yrs later!
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I got to see the Flag at a summer outdoor festival in San Jose, CA. This was around 67/68. The Doors & Country Joe & the Fish headlined. My buddies and me went to see Bloomfield. We were right up front and Mike just blew us away. Such command of the instrument. All the players were great and Nick was and is a great singer. Too bad they didn't last too long.
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Why does Richie Unterberger, Rovi talk so much trash about this band? They jammed.
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scott.smith4 7
Wow! you saw them? They've been a favorite of mine for 40 years. Don't think they ever came to Texas.
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I saw the Flag at MSG in '68 on a bill with Terry Reid and the headliners, Cream. Great show. I've got pics of all three acts.
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Oh, how I envy u for having the thrill of seeing the great Electric Flag and witness Mike Bloomfield play! I was 11 when the album came out. I grew up in Chicago and bought the album "Long Time Comin'" when it was released. Perhaps it was my youth, but to this day, it remains one of my all-time fave albums, whatever the genre, period.
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I had an opportunity to see the Electric Flag at the Filmore East in the late '60's. What I remember to this day is Bloomfield breaking his high string about halfway into a song. If any of you play a guitar, that changes slightly, all the strings. Mike proceeded to play as if nothing had happened. He tuned as he played. I don't even remember the song. He blew me away.
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Groovin is Easy made this project worth the time and trouble!
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(read from bottom) The 60's (don't you hate that appellation) were a time when wild eyed Thomas Edisons created and mixed genres just to see what would happen. Some of them created an enduring legacy, others, mere chimerical sparks. But how brightly they burned!
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(continued) The problem with The Electric Flag is that they were never a "real" band like BS&T, but rather a bunch of incredible talents who got together, got high, and jammed all nite long.
"A Long Time Comin'" was so different from anything else coming out of SF, CHI, or NYC that it couldn't help but attract attention. Even in the folkie clubs I was playing at the time, it was a hot topic of conversation .
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Further thoughts --- Went back and listened to the second album, and although it was a disappointme n t at the time, it has worn well as a kind of laid back soul bookend to "A Long Time Comin'". Herbie Rich's "Qualified" is just a great r&b track (even tho' he does drop the solo four bars too soon!). "My Woman Who Hangs Around the House" (the vocal version of Super Session's "Harvey's Tune") is still a great ---if introspectiv e - - - way to finish any album.
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Disagree w/ Unterberger' s assessment. "Long Time Comin'" is one of the great classics of that crazy '67-'69 era. Somewhere I've got an air check from WBCN w/ Sam Kopper going on and on about how "this album is just so, so good!"
The notion that all songs on a record should sound alike is decidedly recent. Just read the liner notes and you'll get it.
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......STILL NICE ...... AT MOMENTS !!!!! CATCHY BEAT... FOLLOWED BY SOMETHING FUNKIER !!!!!!!

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