Blood, Sweat & Tears didn't get around to cutting an official live album until they were well past their prime years - in this case, 1975, long after every original member (and even most of their first-generation successors) except for drummer Bobby Colomby (a true founding member, going back to the Al Kooper lineup) and vocalist David Clayton-Thomas, was gone.
But, as Clayton-Thomas was back for the accompanying album, New City, and was with the group on this tour, one supposes that Columbia Records decided to take advantage of its good fortune by taping several shows.
For his part, the singer is more mannered and pretentious than ever on most of this album, his singing powerful enough but his instincts pushing him more toward loud, ultimately over-the-top soul strutting, lacking any hint of subtlety.
His performance would be more of a problem, except that members of the group also stretch out for solos on trumpet, flügelhorn, etc., on tracks such as "Unit Seven," and extended versions of "Ride Captain Ride" and other numbers, thus counter-balancing his excesses with their own.
What's also lacking is some excitement - in the group's evident desire to emphasize their jazz side while minimizing any rock elements in their playing, they've also banished any tension, or the interplay between rock and jazz elements upon which their original appeal was founded.
Numbers like "Spinning Wheel", "Lucretia MacEvil", "And When I Die" and "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" are done in such loose-limbed fashion that, apart from showcasing some virtuoso playing and Clayton-Thomas' more oppressive mannerisms, they're rather weak reinterpretations.
It is curious to note, however, that even at this late date, Clayton-Thomas and company were still doing the Al Kooper-era "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know", and were also still utilizing arrangements by Kooper and co-founder Fred Lipsius.
On the positive side, along with the presence of those arrangements, the playing is very good, if not always terribly involving, and in those moments when Clayton-Thomas keeps his instincts in check, the material does recapture and expand on the best components of the original group's sound.
This album was part of a small group of live recordings done by Columbia during this period - Donovan's Live in Japan was another - that were intended for the European and Japanese markets (in later years, there was also a laser disc of a concert from the same tour issued in Japan), where the group was still considered commercially viable. (by Bruce Eder from amg)
Track List :
CD 1 :
02.I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know
04.And When I Die
05.One Room Country
06.And When I Die (Reprise)
07.(I Can Recall) Spain
CD 2 :
01.Hi-De-Ho "That Old Sweet Roll"
04.Mean Ole World
05.Ride Captain Ride
06.You've Made Me So Very Happy
*David Clayton-Thomas - lead vocals
*Bobby Colomby - drums, background vocals
*Ron McClure - bass
*Don Alias - percussion, background vocals
*Dave Bargeron - trombone, tuba, percussion, background vocals
*Larry Willis - keyboards, background vocals
*Bill Tillman - sax, flute, background vocals
*Anthony Klakta - trumpet, background vocals
*Joe Giorgianni - trumpet, background vocals
*Steve Kahn - guitar, background vocals (at Schaeffer Music Festival; City Hall Plaza)
*George Wadenius - guitar (at The National Arts Center)
*Mike Stern - guitar, background vocals (at Monterey Jazz Festival)
[ Rip and Scans (CD & Vinyl), by DR BELL OTUS ]
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