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Blood Sweat & Tears - Child Is Father To The Man CD (album) cover


Blood Sweat & Tears


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.49 | 72 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Frankenstein being strangled by his monster

Blood Sweat and Tears first album is in a number of ways something of a false start for the band. That is not to say it is in anyway inferior to their subsequent releases, it is however different to the style and sound the band would develop starting with their second, self titled album. The reasons for this can be summed up by mentioning two people, one who appears on the album, the other who does not.

Keyboard player Al Kooper formed BS&T in 1967, bringing with him a number of compositions which he felt were in need of the backing of a brass section. Before the second album could be recorded though, Kooper had been asked to leave his own band. Although in the sleeve notes to the remastered CD release Kooper describes the situation as "Frankenstein being strangled by his monster", he is philosophical about the situation, saying it "worked out for the best" even though the band went on to play "music he did not agree with".

David Clayton Thomas, who would become the voice of BS&T, does not appear on this album at all, as he would not be recruited until after Kooper's departure.

The band Kooper put together was an eight piece outfit plus an eleven man string ensemble, a brave and confident move even in the late 1960's. Kooper added a number of cover versions to the band's repertoire, and recording took place over a two week period.

The album opens with a symphonic overture bizarrely featuring hysterical laughter, after which we're into the bluesy "I love you more than you'll ever know", the horn section making in instant impression. Here though it becomes clear that the horns are not to be the centre piece of the album, but are present to add a big band sound to the primarily vocal songs. Kooper's vocal sits well with the mood of the piece while Steve Katz adds some excellent blues style guitar.

Katz takes on lead vocal duties for "Morning glory", his trembling voice creating a wonderful atmosphere on this lush, soft song. "My days are numbered" is a sort of prog soul song with simple time changes along the way. Harry Nilsson's "Without her" (not "Without you") is given a lounge treatment, with saxes exploiting the easy mood of the piece. The song is a million miles from the BS&T most people will be familiar with. "Just one smile" has the anthemic pop feel of songs by bands such as The Family Dogg, while incorporating a fugue section and some fine organ work by Kooper.

"I can't quit her" is a similarly melodic pop based song, with a strong brass arrangement. Steve Katz returns to the fore for his gentle "Megan's gypsy eyes", a song which has the feel of a children's song of the type Tom Paxton is so good at.

Things go a bit flat in the middle of side two, the Kooper composed "Somethin' goin' on" and "House in the country" being fairly standard blues and pop rock fair respectively. The former runs to over 8 minutes, while the latter has a West Coast tinge. "The modern adventures of Plato, Diogenes and Freud" is a rather odd title for a fairly conventional soft ballad with pleasant orchestration. The closing "So much love" is a cover of a Goffen/King song complete with a with "soul chorus".

My Sony re-release of the CD includes three bonus tracks, all of which are mono demos recorded by the band prior to the official sessions for the album. Their inclusion is intended to demonstrate the contribution made by producer John Simon to the finished product. Of these, "Refugee from Yuhupitz" is the most interesting, being a jazz rock instrumental much more in keeping with their subsequent albums.

Given the number of artists who perform on this album, including complete brass and string sections, it is surprisingly vocal throughout. The instrumentation is used to develop the sound, the lavish arrangements breathing life into Al Kooper's generally creditable compositions. As a whole, while the album is enjoyable in its own right, it is notable primarily for the roots it planted not just for Blood Sweat and Tears, but for bands such as Chicago (Transit Authority), Chase, Lighthouse, and many more.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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