Rolling Stone - No. 968, p.723.5 stars out of 5
- "[A]n intimate lesson that doubles as a moving study of Bloomfield's rare gifts and love of the music..."
Uncut - p.1164 stars out of 5
- "This is easily his best solo work....Bloomfield introduces and executes a series of acoustic/electric guitar styles associated with his mentors..."
Living Blues - pp.72-73
"[H]e deftly explains the rudiments of the genre before turning in an impeccable performance."
Mojo (Publisher) - p.1114 stars out of 5
- "[H]e deftly explains the rudiments of the genre before turning in an impeccable acoustic performance."
2 LPs on 1 CD: IF YOU LOVE THESE BLUES, PLAY 'EM AS YOU PLEASE (1976) / BLOOMFIELD-HARRIS (1979)
Personnel: Michael Bloomfield (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar, banjo, piano, organ, keyboards, drums); Michael Bloomfield (spoken vocals, bass guitar); Woody Harris (guitar, acoustic guitar); Eric Kris (piano, keyboards); Eric Kriss (piano); Roger Troy, Doug Kilmer (bass guitar); Nick Gravenites (vocals, guitar); Hart McNee (saxophone, baritone saxophone); Rev. Ron Stallings (tenor saxophone); Ira Kamin (piano, organ, keyboards); Dave Neditch, Tom Donlinger (drums).
Audio Mixer: Norman Dayron.
Audio Remasterer: Kirk Felton.
Liner Note Authors: Michael Bloomfield; Norman Dayron; Kenny Berkowitz; Kenny Berkowitz.
Recording information: Mill Valley, CA (??/??/1976-07/13/1979).
Photographer: Norman Dayron.
Arrangers: Michael Bloomfield; Woody Harris.
If You Love These Blues, Play 'Em As You Please was an unusual project for Michael Bloomfield. Although recorded as a blues guitar instructional album for Guitar Player magazine, it ended up being acclaimed as one of his finest solo recordings, of interest to both guitar players and the general listening public. Bloomfield had been in commercial and artistic decline for years prior to cutting this disc, and there's the sense that he welcomed the chance to get back to what he knew and loved the best, selecting and laying down material without having to worry about how well it would sell. That relaxed quality comes through on the performances, in which he goes through a wide assortment of electric and acoustic guitar styles, the songs specifically designed to illustrate guitar sounds associated with heroes like B.B. King, Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family, T-Bone Walker, Blind Blake, Guitar Slim, Lonnie Johnson, and others. The cuts with band backing are no-frills, straight-ahead affairs that avoid over-production, interrupted by a few showcases for Bloomfield's considerable and underrated abilities as an acoustic guitarist. His singing, as always, was merely serviceable, but suitably respectful of the material and the styles to which he was paying homage. Sprinkled throughout the program are brief, unobtrusive spoken introductions from Bloomfield himself succinctly explaining the songs, what they're examples of, and how they're being played. Long after it was made, it's still useful as a primer for aspiring blues guitarists, but also reasonably satisfying as a blues record on its own terms. The 2004 CD reissue on Kicking Mule adds a lot of value by tacking on the entirety of his 1979 album Bloomfield/Harris, a joint effort by Bloomfield and acoustic guitarist Woody Harris that's a nice, if peripheral, wholly instrumental excursion into gospel-oriented folk-blues. ~ Richie Unterberger