Writer Jeff Tamarkin says "ex Butterfield Band guitarist Mike Bloomfield, drummer Buddy Miles, and others put this soul-rock band together in 1967. This debut is a testament to their ability to catch fire and keep on burnin'." That The Electric Flag do so well -- they appeared at the Monterey International Pop Festival with the Blues Project, Paul Butterfield, and Janis Joplin, and all these groups had some musical connection to each other beyond that pivotal festival.
A Long Time Comin' is the "new soul" described appropriately enough by the late critic Lillian Roxon, and tunes like "She Should Have Just" and "Over-Lovin' You" lean more towards the soul side than the pop so many radio listeners were attuned to back then. Nick Gravenites was too much of a purist to ride his blues on the Top 40 the way Felix Cavaliere gave us "Groovin'," so Janis Joplin's eventual replacement in Big Brother & the Holding Company, Gravenites, and this crew pour out "Groovin' Is Easy" on this disc.
It's a classy production, intellectual ideas with lots of musical changes, a subdued version of what Joplin herself would give us on I Got Dem Ole Kozmic Blues Again, Mama two years later, with some of that album written by vocalist Gravenites. Though launched after Al Kooper's the Blues Project, A Long Time Comin' itself influenced bands who would go on to sell more records. In the traditional "Wine," it is proclaimed "you know Janis Joplin, she'll tell you all about that wine, baby."
As good as the album is, though, the material is pretty much composed by Mike Bloomfield and Barry Goldberg, when they're not covering Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor" and adding spoken-word news broadcasts to the mix. More contributions by Buddy Miles and Gravenites in the songwriting department would have been welcome here. The extended CD version has four additional tracks, Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" and "Mystery," both which appear on the self-titled Electric Flag outing which followed this LP, as well as other material which shows up on Old Glory: The Best of Electric Flag, released in 2000. "Sittin' in Circles" opens like the Doors' "Riders on the Storm," the keyboards as well as the sound effects, and a hook of "hey little girl" which would resurface as the title of a Nick Gravenites tune on the aforementioned follow-up disc, where Gravenites and Miles did pick up the songwriting slack, Bloomfield having wandered off to Super Session with the Blues Project's Al Kooper. Amazing stuff all in all, which could eventually comprise a boxed set of experimental blues rock from the mid- to late sixties. Either version of this recording, original vinyl or extended CD, is fun listening and a revelation.
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione
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