I arranged "Spinning Wheel", co-arranged "You've Made Me So Very Happy", played the alto sax solo on "God Bless the Child", and played the piano
solo on "Smiling Phases".
The "Smiling Phases"(Live) snippet features the BS&T horn section improvising an introduction (as we often did) for this song. Our improv changed every time... In the band, there was a lot of freedom to take chances and experiment. Thus a lot of creative things 'happened'!
Another album to turn heads and make people wonder
November 16, 2000
By 29-year old wallflower "Eric N Andrews" (West Lafayette, IN)
At the beginning of 1969, the psychedelic movement was dying down. The social turmoil of the previous year was already seeming to hint that not all was fine and dandy with the situation at hand. While some bands took the time out to address the upheaval, a few barely bothered to acknowledge it and instead just made some great experimental music typical of the time. Blood, Sweat & Tears was one of these bands. After firing Al Kooper, who had virtually founded the band himself, the remaining members recruited vocalist David Clayton-Thomas, and a totally different dynamic was taken for their self-titled second album. Horns were used throughout CHILD IS FATHER TO THE MAN, no doubt, but they weren't the primary focus, that being Al Kooper's organ. This time around, the horn section is used almost on the level a lead guitar would be used in a regular rock band. And the material they use is equally mind-blowing. Not afraid to cover the most unusual sources, BS&T manage to take Traffic's "Smiling Phases", Billie Holliday's "God Bless The Child", Laura Nyro's "And When I Die" and Brenda Holloway's "You've Made Me So Very Happy" and turn the originals inside-out to the point that BS&T actually own the songs now. Kooper may not have agreed with the new music being made, but the omnipresent organ that was all throughout CHILD is still a big part of this album, which I guess explains why Kooper's version of the band is often overlooked as if it didn't even exist. Unlike CHILD, BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS was pretty much the THRILLER of 1969, topping the charts for weeks on end, spawning 3 #2 hits which should have been #1's, and going platinum before platinum was even an official designation. But like Kooper's BS&T, long-running success was not to be. With 8 members in the band, differences were bound to erupt, and while they did manage to hold out a little longer (for two more albums), this album was rather the beginning of the end for BS&T, rather than the beginning of a new era, which it damn well should have been. It still ranks as one of the most original and breathtaking statements popular music has ever made.
For the Ages
July 7, 2002
By Kurt Harding "bon vivant" (Boerne TX)
I picked this up recently along with some other CDs from a bargain bin at one of my favorite record stores. I hadn't listened to Blood, Sweat and Tears in years, I remembered them as a very decent horn-based band but had never been a real big fan. Then I put the CD in the changer.
Oh my lord, how much greater this sounds today than when I was a teen! From the classical "Variations on a Theme" to all the great songs sandwiched between the two takes on that, I was in heaven. BS & T's top 40 songs are some of the few top 40 songs I will listen to, but it is the incredibly suave rendition of God Bless The Child that catapults this band to greatness and makes the CD a must-have.
Singer David Clayton-Thomas was one of the best of his day, and its really too bad that he and his band did not stick around long enough to produce more gems but instead drifted into undeserved obscurity.
Blood, Sweat and Tears was a good album when it was first issued but with its reissue remastered, it is now an album for the ages.