February 26, 2014

101 Reel-to-Reel Tapes 47: Blood, Sweat & Tears

Cover art: Timothy Quay, Bob Cato
Design: John Berg
Photography: Harrie George
detail photo by Styrous®

I have hundreds of reel-to-reel, pre-recorded tapes in addition to my 20,000 Vinyl LP collection I'm selling (see link below). Interested? Contact me by email please, not by a comment.

Cover art: Timothy Quay, Bob Cato
Design: John Berg 
Photography: Harrie George 
photo of album cover by Styrous®

Originally formed in 1967 in New York City, Blood, Sweat & Tears is most known for the fusing of rock, blues, pop music, horn arrangements and jazz improvisation into a hybrid that came to be known as "jazz-rock". 

Al Kooper, the group's initial bandleader, named the band "Blood, Sweat & Tears" after Johnny Cash's 1963 album Blood, Sweat and Tears. Kooper's fame as a contributor to various historic sessions of Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and others was a catalyst for the prominent debut of Blood, Sweat & Tears in the musical counterculture of the mid-sixties. Kooper was forced out of the group in April 1968 and became a record producer for the Columbia label, but not before arranging some songs that would be on the second BS&T album.

The group replaced Kooper with David Clayton-Thomas, a Canadian singer, born in Surrey, England. Reportedly, folk singer Judy Collins had seen him perform at a New York City club and was so taken and moved by his performance that she told her friends Bobby Colomby and Steve Katz about him (knowing that they were looking for a new lead singer to front the band). With her prodding, they came to see him perform and were so impressed that Clayton-Thomas was offered the role of lead singer in a re-constituted Blood Sweat & Tears. 

The band went on a United States Department of State-sponsored tour of Eastern Europe in May/June 1970 but any voluntary association with the government was highly unpopular at the time and the band was ridiculed for it. In retrospect, it is now known that the State Department requested the tour in exchange for more amicability on the issuance of a visa to Clayton-Thomas.

Cover art: Timothy Quay, Bob Cato
Design: John Berg 
Photography: Harrie George 
photo of album cover by Styrous®

BS&T's first album with David sold an amazing ten million copies and launched three gold singles, You've Made Me So Very Happy, And When I Die and Spinning Wheel. The album won an unprecedented five Grammy awards, including album of the year and best performance by a male vocalist. David's rendition of Billie Holiday's God Bless The Child became a classic. Five successive gold albums and three more gold singles, Hi De Ho, Lucrative MacEvil and Go Down Gamblin' followed, and by 1972 BS&T's was at the very top of the music industry.

Blood, Sweat and Tears was a daring, innovative, fiery fusion of jazz and rock, blues and the classics. The band defied all boundaries, performing with consummate artistry in front of a symphony one night and thousands of rock fans the next. BS&T played the Metropolitan Opera, the Fillmore West and East, the Newport jazz Festival, and Caesar's Palace, all in the same year. It was the first contemporary band to break through the iron curtain with the historic 1970 tour of Eastern Europe, and headline at Woodstock, Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.
BS&T was a strange hybrid. The Julliard graduates, with their classical training, felt the band should aspire to loftier musical goals, and Bartók and Satie became a part of the repertoire. The Berkeley grads were jazz purists, and long improvised solos became a part of the show. Others were pure rockers whose experience included The Blues Project and Frank Zappa's Mother's of Invention.

Blood, Sweat & Tears
reel-to-reel tape rear cover detail
Cover art: Timothy Quay, Bob Cato
Design: John Berg 
Photography: Harrie George 
detail photo by Styrous®

The group recorded songs by rock/folk songwriters such as Laura Nyro, James Taylor, The Band, the Rolling Stones, Billie Holiday and Erik Satie. Music from Thelonious Monk and Sergei Prokofiev was assimilated into their arrangements.

In great contrast to the mostly frenetic tone of the album, Variations on a Theme By Erik Satie (1st Movement) is a languid, relaxing, and lovely tune recorded on October 9, 1968. It serves as both the introduction and finale to this, the second album, released December 11, 1968 on Columbia records. Titled "Variations on a Theme by Erik Satie" (1st and 2nd Movements), it was adapted from Satie's Trois Gymnopédies and arranged by Dick Halligan, who played the flute.

Blues – Part II has a very long organ intro (4:30) by Dick Halligan. It goes into a jazzy instrumental with drums and percussion by Bobby Colomby and alto saxophone by Fred Lipsius that is right up there with the best of them. Eventually, about 9 minutes into the piece, David Clayton-Thomas enters with a slow, blusey feeling ballad reminisent of Janice Joplin.

The commercial and critical acclaim enjoyed by the band in 1969 culminated in an appearance at the Woodstock Festival, in which the band enjoyed headliner status. The Woodstock Movie camera crew caught the band's opening number, More and More, as they took to the stage but the band's manager at the time, Bennett Glotzer, ordered the movie crew to turn off the cameras and leave the stage since the band had not agreed or been paid to be filmed.

photo by Styrous®

The album, Blood, Sweat & Tears, hit the top of the charts, winning Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards over The Beatles' Abbey Road, among other nominees. Blood, Sweat & Tears spawned three major hit singles: a cover of Berry Gordy and Brenda Holloway's You've Made Me So Very Happy, Clayton-Thomas' Spinning Wheel, and a version of Laura Nyro's And When I Die. All three singles reached #2 on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 chart. 
Three of the songs charted on the Billboard 100.

Year Single Chart Peak
1969 And When I Die Adult Contemporary 4
1969 And When I Die The Billboard Hot 100 2
1969 Spinning Wheel Adult Contemporary 1
1969 Spinning Wheel R&B Singles 45
1969 Spinning Wheel The Billboard Hot 100 2
1969 You've Made Me So Very Happy R&B Singles 46
1969 You've Made Me So Very Happy The Billboard Hot 100 2

detail photo by Styrous®
Track list:

Side 1

  1. "Variations on a Theme By Erik Satie" (1st and 2nd Movements) – 2:35
  2. "Smiling Phases" (Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood) – 5:11
    • Recorded October 15, 1968
  3. "Sometimes in Winter" (Steve Katz) – 3:09
    • Recorded October 8, 1968
  4. "More and More" (Vee Pee Smith, Don Juan) – 3:04
    • Recorded October 15, 1968
  5. "And When I Die" (Laura Nyro) – 4:06
    • Recorded October 22, 1968
  6. "God Bless the Child" (Billie Holiday, Arthur Herzog Jr.) – 5:55
    • Recorded October 7, 1968

Side 2

  1. "Spinning Wheel" (David Clayton-Thomas) – 4:08
    • Recorded October 9, 1968
  2. "You've Made Me So Very Happy" (Berry Gordy Jr., Brenda Holloway, Patrice Holloway, Frank Wilson) – 4:19
    • Recorded October 16, 1968
  3. "Blues – Part II" (Blood, Sweat & Tears) – 11:44
  4. "Variations on a Theme By Erik Satie" (1st Movement) – 1:49
    • Recorded October 9, 1968
    • The footsteps and door slam heard at the end of the track are those of model Lucy Angle


Web links:

101 Reel-to-Reel Tapes 48: David Clayton-Thomas 

Music links:
Blood, Sweat & Tears (full album) on YouTube 
Variations on a Theme By Erik Satie (1st Movement) on YouTube
And When I Die on YouTube
Sometimes in Winter on YouTube
More and More on YouTube
Blues – Part II on YouTube
  on YouTube

reel-to-reel listings on eBay

Styrous® ~ Tuesday, February 25, 2014

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