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Blood Sweat & Tears - Nuclear Blues CD (album) cover


Blood Sweat & Tears

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Where are Blood and Sweat?

"Nuclear Blues" looks like it will stand as the last studio album released in the name of Blood Sweat and Tears. I phrase the wording in that way deliberately, as this is not really a genuine BS&T album. The only relationship line up wise with any of the previous albums is through singer David Clayton-Thomas, the rest of the line up being Canadian musicians originally brought together by Clayton-Thomas to form a new band.

Ironically, this is probably the most progressive, and certainly the jazz funkiest (if that is a legitimate expression!) album release in the band's name. In this case however the term progressive is not necessarily synonymous with "good".

The album opens with a funky jazz rock instrumental written by brass instrumentalist Bruce Cassidy. The track has occasional horn bursts such as we have come to expect from a BS&T song, but the overt funk masks anything more substantial. The funk element is carried into the Clayton-Thomas written title track. Ironically, it is only when we get to a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" that we start to find anything truly reminiscent of the band's early years.

Side one concludes with a lengthy blues cover of Henry Glover's "I'll drown in my own tears", perhaps best known through the Janis Joplin version. Clayton-Thomas gives a suitably soulful performance which largely mirrors Joplin's approach.

Side two contains just two tracks. "Fantasy stage" is a downbeat but still funky song with an Earth Wind and Fire or later Santana like arrangement. The rest of the side is taken up by a 15 minute suite called "Spanish Wine". This is a 7 part piece with something of a Spanish flavour. After the Spanish guitar intro of "LA cantina", we move into the brief Don Juan brass filled "Spanish wine". Thereafter, things become more conventionally jazz orientated, "Latin fire" being little more than an exercise in improvisation. Each of the band members appears to get a shot at solo spot as we continue through "The challenge", "The duel" and "Amor". The only notable absentee from the whole exercise is Clayton-Thomas, who is the sole band member not to perform on the track or to receive a writing credit. Those who enjoy orthodox jazz will probably appreciate the suite, but for me it is over indulgent and makes for a sad end to a once great band.

In all, "Nuclear blues" does have some redeeming qualities. It is not however from the same mould as previous albums by the band, and for that reason alone I would recommend approaching with some trepidation. I am sure however that some will find it to be worthwhile.

Incidentally, I find I have two copies of this album. The first is a Dutch cassette release on the Bigtime label which with admirable attention to detail seems to think that Clayton and Thomas are two different people. The sleeve has an alternative cover with a picture of what looks very much like an old like up of the band playing live. The other, which I had assumed to be an entirely different album, is an LP called "The challenge" on the German Astan label. The tracks are however identical.

Report this review (#127590)
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Recorded with totally different musicians, "Nuclear Blues" is the final studio album that bears the name of the band. Led by singer Clayton-Thomas, this is a worthy swan song of the famous brass-rock band. It is very much in the jazz-rock style with firm funk rhythms, so that way it deviates from the earlier albums. I personally like this album better than the previous "Brand New Day" because it contains more jazz improvisations, good brass sections and excellent bass solo parts by D. Piltch. The only throwaway is a slow blues "I'll Drown In My Own Tears" which is a rather boring track despite soulful and convinced vocal by Thomas. "Suite: Spanish Wine" is a 15-minutes pure jazz improvisation with Spanish-like melodies and it is generally successful, even if somewhat too extended. In "Fantasy Stage" the author is mistakenly singing about "habla espanyol" while the story takes places in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (!) Maybe he forgot to consult the tourist guide...

Overall, this is a fine last album by BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS and can be recommended to the jazz-rock and jazz listeners in the first place.


P.A. RATING: 3/5

Report this review (#140652)
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2007 | Review Permalink

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