Blood, Sweat & Tears – Child Is Father To The Man (1968)

FrontCover1Child Is Father to the Man is the debut album by Blood, Sweat & Tears, released in February 1968. It reached number 47 on Billboard’s Pop Albums chart in the United States.

 

A teenaged Al Kooper went to a concert for jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson in 1960. Ferguson’s performance served as the catalyst to start a rock band with a horn section. Originally in a band called The Blues Project, Kooper left after the band leader rejected his idea of bringing in a horn section. He then left for the West Coast and found bassist Jim Fielder who believed in the songs that Kooper wrote. Though Kooper had big ideas for his next project, he didn’t have the money to bring his ideas to fruition. He then threw a benefit for himself and invited several musicians he previously worked with, such as Judy Collins, Simon & Garfunkel, David Blue, Eric Andersen and Richie Havens. All of the performances were sold out, which led Kooper to believe that the gigs helped him. Unfortunately, the owner of the Au Go Go added numerous expenses to the gross receipts that the net receipts after the performance wasn’t enough to get a plane ticket or a taxi to the airport.

He later called Fielder and convinced him to come to New York. He also asked Bobby Colomby, Anderson and Steve Katz, who was his bandmate in his former band The Blues Project. Colomby called Fred Lipsius and the band placed an ad in The Village Voice for more horn players. Within a month, the band assembled an eight piece which also contained Randy Brecker, Jerry Weiss and Dick Halligan. Kooper then asked John Simon to produce them, after being fresh off from producing Simon & Garfunkel’s album Bookends. The album was recorded in two weeks in December 1967. Simon asked all of the members to record their material in one take so he could study songs and make useful suggestions to the arrangements.

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After a brief promotional tour, Colomby and Katz ousted Kooper from the band, which led to Child is Father to the Man being the only BS&T album on which Kooper ever appeared. The band would later have a number one album and several Grammys, although Kooper felt they were playing music that he didn’t agree with. Despite being asked to leave Blood, Sweat & Tears, Kooper felt everything worked out well for him and the band.

In the United States Child Is Father to the Man peaked at #47 on Billboard’s Pop Albums chart. It failed to generate any Top 40 singles, although “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” and “I Can’t Quit Her” found some play on progressive rock radio.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 264 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The title is a quotation from a similarly titled poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, slightly misquoting a poem by William Wordsworth called “My Heart Leaps Up”. (by wikipedia)

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Child Is Father to the Man is keyboard player/singer/arranger Al Kooper’s finest work, an album on which he moves the folk-blues-rock amalgamation of the Blues Project into even wider pastures, taking in classical and jazz elements (including strings and horns), all without losing the pop essence that makes the hybrid work. This is one of the great albums of the eclectic post-Sgt. Pepper era of the late ’60s, a time when you could borrow styles from Greenwich Village contemporary folk to San Francisco acid rock and mix them into what seemed to have the potential to become a new American musical form. It’s Kooper’s bluesy songs, such as “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” and “I Can’t Quit Her,” and his singing that are the primary focus, but the album is an aural delight; listen to the way the bass guitar interacts with the horns on “My Days Are Numbered” or the charming arrangement and Steve Katz’s vocal on Tim Buckley’s “Morning Glory.” Then Kooper sings Harry Nilsson’s “Without Her” over a delicate, jazzy backing with flügelhorn/alto saxophone interplay by Randy Brecker and Fred Lipsius. This is the sound of a group of virtuosos enjoying itself in the newly open possibilities of pop music. Maybe it couldn’t have lasted; anyway, it didn’t. (by William Ruhlmann)

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Personnel:
Randy Brecker (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Bobby Colomby (drums, percussion, vocals)
Jim Fielder (bass)
Dick Halligan (trombone)
Steve Katz (guitar, lute, vocals)
Al Kooper (keyboards, ondioline, vocals)
Fred Lipsius (piano, saxophone)
Jerry Weiss (trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals)
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Anahid Ajemian (violin)
Fred Catero (sound effects)
Harold Coletta (viola)
Paul Gershman (violin)
Al Gorgoni (organ, guitar, vocals)
Manny Green (violin)
Julie Held (violin)
Doug James (shaker)
Harry Katzman (violin)
Leo Kruczek (violin)
Harry Lookofsky (violin)
Charles McCracken (cello)
Melba Moorman (background vocals)
Gene Orloff (violin)
Valerie Simpson (background vocals)
Alan Schulman (cello)
John Simon (keyboards, cowbell)
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The Manny Vardi Strings

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Tracklist:
01. Overture (Kooper) 1.32
02. I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know (Kooper) 5.57
03. Morning Glory (Beckett/Buckley) 4.16
04. My Days Are Numbered (Kooper) 3.19
05. Without Her (Nilsson) 2.41
06. Just One Smile (Newman) 4.38
07. I Can’t Quit Her (Kooper/Levine) 3.38
08. Meagan’s Gypsy Eyes (Katz) 3.24
09. Somethin’ Goin’ On (Kooper) 8.00
10. House In The Country (Kooper) 3.04
11. The Modern Adventures Of Plato, Diogenes And Freud (Kooper) 4.12
12. So Much Love/Underture (Goffin/King/Kooper) 4.47

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Blood, Sweat and Tears – Same (1969)

FrontCover1The difference between Blood, Sweat & Tears and the group’s preceding long-player, Child Is Father to the Man, is the difference between a monumental seller and a record that was “merely” a huge critical success. Arguably, the Blood, Sweat & Tears that made this self-titled second album — consisting of five of the eight original members and four newcomers, including singer David Clayton-Thomas — was really a different group from the one that made Child Is Father to the Man, which was done largely under the direction of singer/songwriter/keyboard player/arranger Al Kooper. They had certain similarities to the original: the musical mixture of classical, jazz, and rock elements was still apparent, and the interplay between the horns and the keyboards was still occurring, even if those instruments were being played by different people. Kooper was even still present as an arranger on two tracks, notably the initial hit “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.” But the second BS&T, under the aegis of producer James William Guercio, was a less adventurous unit, and, as fronted by Clayton-Thomas, a far more commercial one. Not only did the album contain three songs that neared the top of the charts as singles — “Happy,” “Spinning Wheel,” and “And When I Die” — but the whole album, including an arrangement of “God Bless the Child” and the radical rewrite of Traffic’s “Smiling Phases,” was wonderfully accessible. It was a repertoire to build a career on, and Blood, Sweat & Tears did exactly that, although they never came close to equaling this album. (by Bruce Eder)

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This album opens with an extended flute and chimes cover of Erik Satie. The second track is a Traffic cover rife with jazz solos. Whatever foggy pre-conceptions I had of BST (mostly “Spinning Wheel,” still excellent), this does match. Horns punctuate all sorts of moments. “And When I Die” comes swinging in with an almost country vibe. Lots of organ on the B-side. You would think the sprawling and strong Blues would close the disc, but no, it’s a lovely return to Satie.

An eclectic, completely unexpected album. Not a masterpiece, but certainly delightful. Highly recommended.(by a fan called Justin)

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Personnel:
David Clayton-Thomas (vocals)
Bobby Colomby (drums)
Jim Fielder (bass)
Dick Halligan (keyboards, flute, trombone)
Jerry Hyman (trombone)
Steve Katz (guitar, vocals)
Fred Lipsius (saxophone, piano)
Lew Soloff (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Chuck Winfield (trumpet, flugelhorn)

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Tracklist:
01. Variations On A Theme By Erik Satie (1st and 2nd Movements) (Satie) 2.36
02. Smiling Phases (Capaldi/Winwood/Wood) 5.11
03. Sometimes In Winter (Katz) 3.09
04. More And More (Vee/Juan) 3.05
05. And When I Die (Nyro) 4.06
06. God Bless the Child (Holiday/Herzog, Jr.) 5.53
07. Spinning Wheel (Clayton-Thomas) 4.08
08. You’ve Made Me So Very Happy (B.Holloway/P.Holloway/Gordy, Jr./Wilson) 4.20
09. Blues, Pt. II (Clayton-Thomas/Colomby /Fielder/Halligan/Hyman/Katz/Lipsius/Soloff/Winfield) 11.45
10. Variations On A Theme By Erik Satie (1st Movement) (Satie) 1.43

 

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