Nuclear Blues is an album by the band Blood, Sweat & Tears, released in 1980. This was the band’s eleventh studio album and their first release for MCA/LAX Records. Nuclear Blues was produced by Jerry Goldstein, who had previously been known for his work with the band War. Even though it had only been three years since they released their last album Brand New Day, the band contained a new line-up with David Clayton-Thomas being the only remaining member from that period.
This album failed to make it on the Billboard Album Charts. This incarnation of Blood, Sweat & Tears disbanded the following year; although various incarnations of the group have existed and toured in the years since, to date this remains their final studio album.
Nuclear Blues was reissued in Germany in 1985 on the Platinum label under the title Latin Fire. (by wikipedia)
This 1980 edition of rock’s longest-running horn band is definitely not your father’s Blood, Sweat & Tears. Frontman David Clayton-Thomas is still on board, but everybody else is new.
The musical emphasis has mostly shifted, from pop/soul with a jazz flavor to out-and-out fusion jazz, such as “Agitato,” and the lengthy and often quite lovely “Spanish Wine” suite, with only an occasional lead vocal (a radically re-arranged cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression”). Big exceptions include the title tune, in which Clayton-Thomas vents his paranoia about Three Mile Island, and an impassioned, if relatively straightforward, cover of the old blues standard “I’ll Drown In My Own Tears.” (allmusic.com)
A highly artistic suite on Side B, relatively accessible songs on Side A – this looks like Mirror Image (1974), which may well be my all time favourite Blood, Sweat & Tears album. But it doesn’t sound like that. Nope – Nuclear Blues was released in 1980, so it was technically the Eighties, but there is nothing ’80s-like on this album. I guess in the B, S & T universe the combined 1960s/1970s were meant to last forever.
Whereas the aforementioned Mirror Image really flirted with contemporary pop features (like “Love Looks Good on You”), Nuclear Blues does something more timeless… or more 1960s. The title track is funky, but here that adjective has nothing to do with funk as in disco funk; actually it has more to do with classic R&B. “Manic Depression”, then, is a Jimi Hendrix cover of course. I really like the idea of a parallel universe in which covering Hendrix was a relevant (or even hip?) thing back in 1980. Loyally to the good ol’ B, S & T, the version doesn’t sound like Hendrix at all. “I’ll Drown in My Own Tears” is a cover of a blues standard. It is basically nice, though overlengthy. David Clayton-Thomas sings the lead on the vocal tracks, but as you see, those aren’t very numerous.
The rest is jazz fusion, often with a Spanish twist. I appreciate it, but I am not so heavily into it. In fact, my rating is primarily for “Nuclear Blues”; otherwise the album is just decent, though it contains no bad tracks. I kind of like the feel that doesn’t feel forced at all. It is like the guys had just got together and made another album, which has actually ended up being quite highly artistic and so on. (by fairyeee)
David Clayton-Thomas (vocals)
Bruce Cassidy (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Vern Dorge (saxophone, flute)
Bobby Economou (drums)
Robert Piltch (guitar)
Earl Seymour (saxophone, flute)
01. Agitato (Cassidy) 5.54
02. Nuclear Blues (Clayton-Thomas) 4.24
03. Manic Depression (Hendrix) 4.17
04. I’ll Drown In My Own Tears (Glover) 7.22
05. Fantasy Stage (Clayton.Thomas/Piltch) 5.41
06. Suite: Spanish Wine 15.09
06.1. Introduction: La Cantina (Piltch) 2.15
06.2. Theme: Spanish Wine (Cassidy) 1.02
06.3. Latin Fire (Cassidy/Economou/Piltch/Martinez/Dorge/Seymour) 2.22
06.4. The Challenge (Cassidy/Economou/Piltch/Martinez/Dorge/Seymour) 2.15
06.5. The Duel (Cassidy/Economou/Piltch/Martinez/Dorge/Seymour) 2.20
06.6. Amor (Cassidy/Economou/Piltch/Martinez/Dorge/Seymour) 3.16
06.7. Reprise: Spanish Wine (Cassidy) 1.42
** (coming soon)