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Blood Sweat & Tears - B, S & T 4 CD (album) cover

B, S & T 4

Blood Sweat & Tears


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.35 | 41 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Gambling only pays when your winning

For their fourth album, BS&T relocated en-masse to San Francisco. The decision was taken to rely as far as possible on their own song-writing skills, moving away from their previous practice of applying their interpretations to other peoples' songs.

As a rule, the tracks are generally shorter and tighter than those on the previous two albums which feature Clayton-Thomas; the brass/jazz undercurrents are still very much in evidence though. The opening "Go down Gamblin'" is one of the most powerful songs they ever recorded and for the first time since joining the band, David Clayton-Thomas plays lead guitar on the track, giving it a truly hard rock feel.

Dave Bargeron's "Cowboys and Indians" is an unusually soft and reflective piece, which is at odds with the generally upbeat feel of the album. While original member Al Kooper is of course long since gone from the band, his "John the Baptist" is subject to a superb interpretation here. "Redemption" was effectively recorded live in the studio, the semi-improvised nature of the piece giving it a noticeable vitality.

While "Go down gamblin'" was the obvious single extracted from the album, "Lisa listen to me", another Clayton-Thomas song written with Dick Halligan is also highly accessible, with a strong hook and some fine brass work. Pianist (and multi-instrumentalist) Fred Lipsius closes each side with a soft reflective piece "A look to my heart" which "reflects the sense of peace he discovered moving to San Francisco".

Side two of the album is largely dominated by the song writing of Steve Katz. "High on a mountain" has the spiritual feel which made "Hi-de-ho" so appealing. Dick Halligan's superb arrangement of the song gives it a majesty which Clayton-Thomas' vocal fully exploits. Katz gets his once per album opportunity to provide lead vocal on "Valentine's day", a pleasant but undistinguished love song which might have sounded so much better had Clayton-Thomas retained his vocal duties.

Never a band to shy away from surprises, the Holland/Dozier/Holland soul standard "Take me in your arms (Rock me a little while)" is given the BS&T treatment transforming it from the Isley Brothers original into an exciting and very funky slice of fun. Halligan provides another sympathetic arrangement for Katz's mushy but emotionally charged "For my lady". Clayton-Thomas demonstrates that he is equally at home with the demands of a delicate ballad as he is with the rock style we generally associate with him. "Mama gets high" is the poorest track on the album, the attempt at a Dixieland rock song totally misfiring.

While BS&T's fourth album found the band moving is a slightly more mainstream direction, it served to validate their song-writing credentials, and offered some highly impressive performances. The improvisational side of the band is largely put to one side in favour of a tight and largely coherent work. Unfortunately and all too soon, David Clayton-Thomas would leave the band after this album was released, and their classic era was at an end.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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