Blood Sweat And Tears - St

Blood Sweat And Tears – Blood Sweat And Tears

83 / 100

The kings of brass rock, Blood Sweat And Tears’ music was a savoury blend of jazz, classical and pop, this debut topped by the hit ‘And When I Die’.

Written by: Eric

ARTIST: Blood Sweat And Tears
ALBUM: Blood Sweat And Tears
YEAR: 1969
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List

LINEUP: David Clayton-Thomas – lead vocals * Lew Solof – trumpet, flugelhorn * Bobby Colomby – drums, percussion * Jim Fielder- bass * Dick Halligan – organ, piano, flute, trombone, vocals * Steve Katz – guitar, harmonica, lead & backing vocals * Fred Lipsius – alto sax, piano * Chuck Winfield – trumpet, flugelhorn * Jerry Hyman – trombone, recorder

TRACK LISTING: 01 Variations On A Theme By Erik Satie (1st and 2nd Movements) Adapted From ‘Trois Gymnopedies’ * 02 Smiling Faces * 03 Sometimes In Winter * 04 More And More * 05 And When I Die * 06 God Bless The Child * 07 Spinning Wheel * 08 You’ve Made Me So Very Happy * 09 Blues- Part II * 10 Variations On A Theme By Eric Satie (1St Movement) Adapted From ‘Trois Gymnopedies’



Love it or hate it, Brass Rock had a brief stretch of popularity in the late 1960’s before dropping off around 1975. Largely but not exclusively an American movement, there were numerous bands that released decent albums during this period.

These included The Flock, Dreams, Chase, Pig Iron and others. The hands down commercial kings of horn fronted rock were Chicago and New York’s Blood Sweat And Tears.

Yes, Chicago had more hits and a much longer run but BS and T were different. Their music was a savoury blend of jazz, classical and pop. Their catalog included both originals and innovative covers from a wildly diverse range of sources including James Taylor and Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev.

The Songs

For my money this is Blood Sweat And Tears finest hour and the first with soulful singer David Clayton-Thomas. The amalgam of styles is astonishing and opening with the pastoral and instantly familiar Erik Satie piece ‘Variations On A Theme’ is a stroke of genius.

After a brief pause the band rock-up the same melody in true Tears style with flashy horns and spacey percussion which strangely skirts avant-garde. ‘Smiling Faces’ gives us the first vocal track with Thomas and it’s a winner although Steve Katz’s lead on the sumptuous ‘Sometimes In Winter’ is one of the most beautiful songs the band ever put to tape, sounding like a drowsy version of The Left Banke.

I always had a difficult time with ‘And When I Die’ as it mixes Broadway show tunes (‘Oklahoma’ comes to mind) with gospel and offbeat blues pop, although much to my amazement it was one of the albums biggest hits and pushed all the way to 4 on the Billboard charts.

More to my liking is the wonderful Billie Holiday cover ‘God Bless The Child’ and even though it was never released as a single, I do remember hearing it on the radio and recall seeing the band perform the song on TV when I was a youngster.

Nice stuff, but the follow-up ‘Spinning Wheel’ is the tune that put Blood Sweat And Tears on the map. Written by Thomas, it’s typical of the time with lots of trippy imagery, calliope and a delicious hook, while it hit number 2 on the charts.

So did the brilliant cover of ‘You Made Me So Very Happy’ which like The Association‘s ‘Windy’ became part of my musical DNA early on and if I could hear both songs once a day, I’d still never tire of either.

Rounding out the set there’s a fun tip of the hat to Cream on ‘Blues – Part II’ before once again the familiar strains of the Satie’s ‘Variations On A Theme’ draw the curtains closed on what is one of the best pop albums the 1960’s produced.

In Summary

Upon release of the record, Blood, Sweat And Tears quickly became headliners with a fledgling Jethro Tull as opening act as well as a top spot at the Woodstock Festival.

‘Spinning Wheel’ and the LP were both nominated for Grammys with the album winning record of the year. They charted a few more hits before Thomas left in 1972, refusing to endure persistent tensions between the pop half of the band and its jazz contingent.


And When I Die

Blood, Sweat and Tears - When I Die (1970)

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