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Blood Sweat & Tears - Brand New Day CD (album) cover

BRAND NEW DAY

Blood Sweat & Tears

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Music to watch girls by

With many of his mates from the early years of the band gone, David Clayton-Thomas was nevertheless firmly back in the fold on this his third album since rejoining Blood Sweat and Tears. Interestingly, ever present member Bobby Colomby takes the opportunity on the sleeve to name check many of the past members, including Al Kooper, Steve Katz and Dick Halligan.

Clayton-Thomas tends to dominate the proceedings here, most of the tracks being very vocal, with little space for arranged instrumentation, let alone improvisation.

The familiar brass blasts which identify the band are instantly with us on the funky opener "Somebody I trusted". (Incidentally, do not trust the label of the UK LP release which titles this track "Put out the light", and also misnames track 4 as "Lady put the light out"!). The song had previously appeared on Three Dog Night's "Hard labor" album, perhaps emphasising how BS&T had moved in the direction of that band. The funky nature of the album is emphasised by the presence of Chaka Khan on the following track, but ironically the song is a bluesy ballad, calling far more on her harmonic skills.

"Same old blues" has a Stevie Wonder feel, perhaps with echoes of "Superstition". By the time of "Lady put the light out", a pattern of up-tempo song then ballad is definitely in evidence. Here though, Clayton-Thomas is moving just a little too far in the crooner direction for comfort though.

Side two of the album consists of just four tracks, but they are arguably the more interesting. Randy Edelman's "Blue street" (from his legendary "Farewell Fairbanks" album) is given a sympathetic yet emotional treatment, with Clayton-Thomas rising to the challenge of the climactic ending. Tony Klatka's "Gimme that wine" has the feel of a Dr Hook reject, telling the tale of marital disharmony caused by the demon drink.

"Rock and roll queen" is subtitled "A tribute to Janis Joplin", the ill-fated blues legend of the late 1960's/early 70's. The song starts out as a sad refrain, but quickly develops into an up-tempo bluesy yet soulful rock piece. A definite highlight of the album. On the closing "Don't explain", Clayton-Thomas is in danger of sounding like Andy Williams, such is the emphasis placed on the crooning and schmaltzy orchestration.

While there's nothing overtly bad or even poor about "Brand new day", it lacks the excitement and energy of the band's early work. It is perhaps just a little too tight and sanitised, with perfunctory performances of adequate songs. The prog influences which had sustained the band in their early years are all but gone, replaced by funky pop and straightforward ballads.

Perhaps coincidentally, the sleeve has cutaway corners similar to the Traffic albums "shootout.." and "Low spark..". BS&T had covered Traffic songs on various occasions, although sadly not on this album.

This was effectively the final album by BS&T, although a further release using the band name would follow later, when Clayton- Thomas' band CANADA changed their name in an effort to increase sales of their "Nuclear blues" album.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#127571)
Posted Thursday, July 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
Seyo
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Honorary Collaborator
2 stars While their connection with progressive rock community (in any general terms) will always be debatable, BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS were surely an interesting band. Even before the term "jazz-rock" was introduced, they played an interesting amalgam of rock, blues, jazz and soul, spiced with the late 1960s psychedelia. Due to prominent role of the brass section in their sound, someone coined the name of the style - "brass-rock". Alas, that was in the late 1960s, while in 1977 the band was far away from their inspiring roots.

"Brand New Day" is actually a decent soul/funk effort that fans of Stevie Wonder or Joe Cocker would probably like a lot. Not everything functions here in the best possible way and songs like "Dreaming as One" (with Chaka Khan), "Blue Street" and "Rock'n'Roll Queen" are extremely softy pop/soul ballads that a convinced "prog rocker" usually skips without remorse. On the other hand, there are several quite good moments, like two funkiest pieces "Somebody I Trusted" and "Gimme That Wine" that recall James Brown or Sly Stone. Clayton-Thomas' "black" vocal is brilliant in these moments as well as in "Don't Explain", although the latter suffers from unavoidable comparation with the angelic voice of Billie Holiday's original interpretation. J.J. Cale is famed for being credited for providing original songs only to see other people megaselling their cover versions. Bob Marley and Eric Clapton are the most famous examples. But, BS&T did not manage to follow suit although their rendition of "Same Old Blues" is fairly good interpretation of infectious Cale's laid-back, lazy country-blues rhytms.

In this phase the band was playing almost only the covers and lack of their original tracks just proves that they were long time now a past sensation. "Brand New Day" is not in the scope of even the average albums of the progressive rock era, but if you like brass instruments, soul and funk, occasional spin won't hurt.

PERSONAL RATING: 3/5 PA RATING: 2/5

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#127690)
Posted Friday, July 06, 2007 | Review Permalink

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