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

B, S & T 4

Blood Sweat & Tears

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Easy Livin
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.

Report this review (#127507)
Posted Wednesday, July 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I got this album because I had the provious 3 they made. I was disappointed with the product after I heard it the first time. I was expecting the whole album to sound somwthing like "Go Down Gambling." It was not like that much at all.

"Go Down Gambling" was my favorite because of the guitar solo at the end. Believe it or not David Clayton Thomas played very well. I didn't know he could even play the guitar until I heard him on this. After I heard the whole album, I wondered why the band couldn't have done more of the rock oriented stuff. They put the song out on a 45 which I believed misled a lot of people who bought this album. I was thinking that "man, this set is gonna be pretty good with plenty of lead guitar to listen to." Unfortunately that wasn't the case. "Go Down Gambling" is the only one to employ a decent guitar solo on it.

There are a few noteworthy songs on this album though. "Redemption" has a great drum solo compliments of Bobby Columby. It then progs to the vocal tune and it stays upbeat throughout, with some nice solos by the horn section.

"A Look to My Heart" is moody and very well done. At the end of the album they reprise it with a much longer exploration of the main musical idea. It is well worth more than a few listens. The piano is featured here.

"Valentine's Day, John the Baptist(By Al Kooper no less), Lisa Listen to me, and Take Me in Your Arms" get an honorable mention. The whole album is well done but I don't really like the direction the band went in here. I never bought any more music from them after this.

All in all I give this one 2 stars. For what it's worth, I seriously considered giving it 3 stars at first though.

Report this review (#281810)
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Blood, Sweat & Tears is a terribly uneven band. Though bursting with skill, musicality and vision not many albums are solid. Often enough they are a collection of good, great and even boring material. Unlike other bands in the genre they seemed to draw in opposite directions at times, resulting in an uneven spread. The good parts are superior. The bad or not so good are, quite frankly, not that interesting.

In the year of 1971 Blood, Sweat & Tears released this album, simply entitled 4. As on previous albums the musical contents are made up of jazz, rock, blues, folk and classical elements. The difference being that 4 is a very cohesive and enjoyable album. It is held together in a way I feel some other records fail to do.

The opener, "Go down gamblin", is a terrific piece of raw and heavy jazz-rock. A great riff, fantastic energy and Clayton-Thomas' vocals makes it one of their best hard rock tracks. "Cowboys and indians" is a ballad-ish song with great lyrics and warm atmosphere. "Redemption" opens with a fantastic drum beat and heads into distinctly jazzy territory, as is the case in "Mama gets high": Again, I am not one to go through every track, so I will settle with some final words on the album as a whole.

I think this is a tremendous album. Apart from "New city" this is the one album of Blood, Sweat & Tears I return to the most. It is great from beginning to the piano led end and it's classical theme. What Blood, Sweat & Tears managed to do on 4 is simply to put all that made them great into one fabolous piece of art. Not too sentimental, not too slick and not too overbearing. It still sounds fresh to me and as vibrant as it ever did back in 1971. It did not break any new ground but consolidated what had already been gained over the past few years. The even mixture of hard rock, rock, blues, jazz, classical, folk and what not is very comforting and thrilling, 4 is a charming, energetic and lively album that really shows what Blood, Sweat & Tears was all about in it's first years of existence.

Report this review (#1292476)
Posted Thursday, October 16, 2014 | Review Permalink

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