Waterhouse 1980 / Angel Air 2018
Obscure offering from blues beacon that shines a warm light many years down the line.
There’s a strange misconception about this album placing it at the onset of the legendary artist’s posthumous discography, while actually it was among the last Bloomfield records released while he was still alive – yet laid down earlier, in the ’70s, with one of the most sympathetic line-ups Michael had ever had. A friendly atmosphere and soulful slant make “Living In The Fast Lane” loom larger than a mere footnote in his oeuvre, though, and display the immense integrity, turning a ragtag array of tracks into consistent experience as a result, despite a variety of vocals involved in bringing those pieces to the listener. In layman’s terms, the platter is tasty.
What may seem like a brass-oiled, smooth ride from unmistakably Chicagoan, urban vibe of “Sammy Knows How To Party” and alternative opener “Maudie” – attached to this reissue as shuffling bonus – to the transparent “The Dizz Rag” which is the epitome of the master’s romantic side, will pan out enjoyably bumpy, especially on the frisky “Roots” whose funky tribalism would be driven to the Holy Mothership delirium by several singers. Bloomfield’s six strings sting and sparkle in equal measure, whereas his mastery of organ throws additional swirl around playful piano on many a number and stresses the Motown-esque mellifluousness of “Shine On Love” that is rendered irresistible thanks to writer Roger Troy’s voice and Michael’s filigree twang.
He’s catching one’s ears with the slider-polished “Big C Blues” and an exquisite acoustic romp through “Watkin’s Rag” – both done in a solo mode – but the sexed-up reggae which “Andy’s Bad” is bubbling with has a suggestively electric allure. There’s also spiritual call-and-response of “When I Get Home” with Bloomfield’s lace delicately wrapped around the choir phrases before Michael’s own pipes hand “Used To It” to an eager congregation, so escaping this album doesn’t feel a polite option. It’s as exciting as its title suggests and, reissued after years of being overlooked, can proudly enrich the legend’s legacy.