The Electric Flag – A Long Time Comin’

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Combining blues, rock, soul, pop, R & B, rockabilly, psychedelic, and jazz, The Electric Flag’s A Long Time Comin’ is a cross section of the middle 60s. Released on Columbia in 1968, this debut album brings musical diversity to a whole new level. Touting such future stars as Jimi Hendrix’s future drummer (Buddy Miles), Bob Dylan’s bassist (Harvey Brooks), and one of the most respected guitarists of all time (Michael Bloomfield), The Electric Flag’s short but sweet tenure laid the foundation for some of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest musicians. While the band’s plethora of musical styles makes them difficult to categorize, this variety allows them the freedom genre-bending, genre-bashing, and just plain experimentation. For example, the song “Wine” is a traditional rockabilly number infused with the energy of soul music. Picture James Brown singing with Bill Haley’s Comets playing backup. And it sounds great! This sort of fearless experimentation allows each band member to bring his strength to the table without being overwhelmed by all of the others. Many of the songs start off as seemingly predictable pop rock numbers only to become suddenly infused with a few blues guitar licks or a psychedelic sounding keyboard. Although the band’s experimentation is not always successful and can even be less than satisfactory on some tracks, overall the members show a willingness to grow with each and learn from each other’s strength. The band’s experimental nature comes to a pinnacle with the 9-minute epic, “Another Country.” This song comprises the band’s variety of styles segueing from psychedelic ambiance to smooth jazz to blues guitar and into depths than can only be described as unclassifiable. Perhaps the best way of defining the band’s sound is a quote on the subject from the man behind the phenomenal guitar riffs, Michael Bloomfield. “I think of it as the music in the air, on the air, in the streets; blues, soul, country, rock, religious music, traffic, crowds, street sounds and field sounds, the sound of people and silence.” But wait! for those of you who may be feeling turned off by all the talk of genre-crossing, there is still a gem here for you. “Texas” is a blues number that can only be described as godlike. This is the track that would give The Electric Flag credibility with even the highest of blues masters. It is pure Texas blues as only Texas blues can be. Whether you prefer the pure blues sound or the 60s experimental blues and soul rock, there’s no denying that these musicians are talented. From here, many of them would go on to play with the biggest names in rock ‘n’ roll history. In 2003, Bloomfield was listed as the 22nd greatest guitarist of all time in Rolling Stone magazine. After hearing this album you’ll understand why.  B+

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5 thoughts on “The Electric Flag – A Long Time Comin’

  1. Hi Charlie
    One of my fave albums……..i put this lp together with the Super Session album and the first Blood Sweat and Tears lp. on my shelve….there was a sampler lp in the UK in 68 titled The Rock Machine Turns You On from CBS/Columbia show casing all their new ailbums from the above three plus Spirit Byrds Dylan Cohen PBC etc…..it was very inexpensive and a great eye opener for me to some great music….i eventually bought all the featured albums…..its actually a great album on its own

    best regards

    jim

    • Hey Jim,

      Yes, I don’t know why The Electric Flag isn’t more popular. Even among people who share a taste for the lesser known 60s music, The Electric Flag rarely comes up. Baffles me.

      That sampler sounds amazing. Nice find!

      Charlie

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