Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blood Sweat & Tears - Child Is Father to the Man (1968)

Blood Sweat & Tears are arguably a case study of a band with a brilliant debut that the band was never able to live up to again.

BS&T's was in large part the brainchild of Al Kooper. So it was quite surprising when after this debut, Kooper was given his walking papers and replaced by David Clayton-Thomas.

While Kooper is not a great singer, this listener prefers his vocals over those of his successor. Add to that that Kooper was the principal songwriter in the band the band seemingly shot themselves in the foot when they showed Kooper the door.

Commercially their second album was considerably more successful, but to my ears it lacks the inventiveness and the pure unbridled potential this album showed.

Today this album does sound a bit dated, not in a bad way. It's a delightful capsule of the late sixties. There's a fullness and lushness that's at least marginally reminiscent of the Moody Blues Days of Future Passed released the year before.

One of the reasons Kooper was let go was the band felt they could find a better singer, but listening to songs like More Than You'll Ever Know and I Can't Quit Her I honestly can't hear the need for a new singer. Kooper doesn't just sing well, he nails the vocals on most of these songs. And even if he lacked the range of "better" singers, the band would have been better served bringing in a second singer in addition to Kooper, as opposed to replacing him.

What is perhaps most remarkable about this album is that its so strong and so seamless from start to finish. There's not a bad track on it and it certainly leaves the listener wanting more. It's arguably one of the "must-have" albums for any fan and/or collector of late 60s rock.

All in all this album is both a testament and a glaring question mark to what might have been had BS&T held on to the talents of Al Kooper.

Related Links
Blood Sweat & Tears (official site)
Blood Sweat & Tears (wikipedia)
Al Kooper (official site)
Al Kooper (wikipedia)
Jim Fielder (wikipedia)
Fred Lipsius (official site)
Fred Lipsius (wikipedia)
Randy Brecker (official site)
Randy Brecker (wikipedia)
Jerry Weiss (wikipedia)
Dick Halligan (official site)
Dick Halligan (wikipedia)
Steve Katz (wikipedia)
Bobby Colomby (wikipedia)


bearockr said...

Its really great that atleast someone mentioned about Al Kooper lately... He was a really talented musician who as per me has been quite underrated ... I read a story of his lifetime that he had done a Organ part in some song, though he never had rehearsed for the same, and when Bob Dylan heard it , Dylan was amazed at his excellent work !

He also has performed along with Dylan, in the Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Rolling Stones too..

rockandrollguru said...

For whatever reason, Al Kooper has never gotten the mainstream recognition or credit he so richly deserves. Thanks for highlighting this rock legend.

Barbara said...

Hey yeah, Al Kooper, haven't thought of him in a long time. Good post as always, Perplex!

Charlie said...

While I prefer the soulful Clayton-Thomas's voice to Kooper's this first album is by far the most original, artistic, and eclectic record this band ever made. In addition, almost all of the members went on to have long careers in the business. It shows you the amount of talent that was in both versions of this band.

Barely Awake In Frog Pajamas said...

Al used to frequent a bar where we used to drink. Alas, as he had "stolen" the girl of one of our friends (according to that friend), we had no choice but to view him as a cold-hearted villain.

Talented fellow, though.