Welcome to the Iron Leg Halloween Spookfest, during which yours truly dips into the crates for a taste of something groovy with which we might all enliven our Samhain festivities.
The tune I bring you today was digi-ma-tized early this year and tucked away for just this occasion.
I have no idea if Donovan had any idea what he was whipping on the world when he wrote and recorded ‘Season of the Witch’. Not only was it a hit on its own, but spawned a ton of cover versions (my fave being the Lou Rawls classic).
While I love me some Dono-Leitch, we here at Iron Leg Industries never take the direct route between two points, so nothing less than a cover version of the source material would suffice.
The recording you’ll hear today appeared on the Bloomfield/Kooper/Stills ‘Super Session’ album in 1968. Oddly enough, though all three principals (Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper and Stephen Stills) were working rock musicians, none of them could be described as big stars as of 1968, with Kooper coming off the founding of Blood Sweat and Tears, Bloomfield leaving the Electric Flag and Stills between Buffalo Springfield and acquiring his license to print money with David Crosby and Graham Nash.
The session came together through the workings of Al Kooper who booked a block of studio time with Bloomfield, Harvey Brooks and Barry Goldberg of the Electric Flag and LA sessioner ‘Fast’ Eddie Hoh (who had played with the Mamas and Papas among many others).
This group recorded the first side of the LP in a day, after which Bloomfield disappeared and was replaced by Stephen Stills, who recorded the second side of the album in a similarly speedy fashion.
The version of ‘Season of the Witch’ posted today is from the Stills half of the record, which aside from the Bloomfield-led version of Howard Tate’s ‘Stop’ is far superior to the flip side. I remember hearing this song for the first time during my bong-rattling college years, a hazy period where the slow, sinuous groove of this particular ‘Season of the Witch’ fit perfectly into the musical rotation. While I would describe Stills as one of my favorite musicians – due in large part (but not exclusively) to his Buffalo Springfield period – I will admit that he had an unfortunate tendency to dip in the white-boy soul screamer thing. I’m happy to say that his performance in ‘Season of the Witch’ is a comparative model of subtlety, both vocally and on guitar.
The cut was popular on the progressive FM dial, making the ‘Super Session’ album a fairly substantial hit.
I hope you dig the song, and I’ll be back later in the week with something cool.