Monday, June 4, 2012
Blood, Sweat & Tears - Child is Father to the Man (1968)
The title of the first Blood, Sweat & Tears album is taking from a Gerard Manley Hopkins and tells a lot about the album in a few words. Like the origin of the title, the album is literary and artistic. Many of the critics of this album state that there is no single. That many be true, but it might just be that there is no track that stands out from the rest. That being said, this album doesn't have a dull moment or a bad song. The album is literary in the sense that you need to listen to the album from "Overture" to "Underture" like you would read a book for cover to cover. Typical of a lot of Al Kooper's albums of the time period, there is a sort of classical outlook in the frame of the album starting from a thematic display of the album from the overture performed by a string quartet. This is really the album that Kooper came into his own as a songwriter and a performer. There are a lot of great Kooper originals such as "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" or "House in the Country," but there is also some great covered material in a bossa nova arrangement of Nilsson's "Without Her"(a personal favorite) and Randy Newman's "Just One Smile." There were aspects of a maturing musician in The Blues Project's 1967 release Projections, but this is the first time Kooper is the main driving force behind an album. "Meagan's Gypsy Eyes" incorporates a lot of the driving characteristics of Kooper's ondioline work on Projections "Steve's Song." Those familiar with Blood, Sweat & Tears might have heard of this album, but many fans of jazz rock know the material of their self-titled second album, which is really an entirely different band. After some disagreement in the band, Kooper left shortly after this album and the band went into its familiar David Clayton-Thomas format. Besides Kooper, some of the other musicians such as trumpeter Randy Brecker leave the band altogether pointing out how different this album is from the subsequent material of Blood, Sweat & Tears. This is the album that really launched the jazz-rock movement despite being overshadowed by a great deal of other albums. It is also one of the few examples of jazz-rock that wasn't conceived of to be a commercial endeavor; any element of the counterculture that Kooper brought with his ties to Bob Dylan were totally severed with his departure. Still, BS&T played during the infamous Woodstock festival and was a successful organization until the mid-1970s.