Friday, March 19, 2010


Blood, Sweat & Tears
Child is Father to the Man

Columbia/Sundazed LP 5278 180LP or Columbia Speakers Corner CS 9619 18

Produced by: John Simon
Engineered by: Fred Catero
Mixed by: Fred Catero
Mastered by: Bob Irwin (LP cut by "WG/NRP") or Maarten de Boer

Review by: Michael Fremer

The first Blood, Sweat and Tears group led by Al Kooper and including his former Blues Project bandmate Steve Katz, was the sophisticated assemblage that produced but one album. This one.

It remains a stunning example of jazz-rock sophistication that has never been matched in my opinion by any of the follow-up horn bands like Chicago or Mom’s Apple Pie (just kidding) and certainly not by the David Clayton Thomas led BS&T, though that one was far more commercially successful and though it included five of the original crew that perform here, Randy Brecker left and Al Kooper was only involved on two tracks.

Some may still dig “Spinning Wheel,” the great reworking of Traffic’s “Smiling Phases,” and the rest of the second album, and I have to admit that for pop dross it’s awfully good (though the passage of time really exposes David Clayton Thomas as little more than a facile lounge singer), but if that’s where you got to know the group and are either afraid to dig further back, or wonder whether this record can possibly live up to that one, have no fear.

Everything about this production reeks of quality— from John Simon’s producer credit to Fred Catero’s engineering and the BS&T string section made up of N.Y.C.’s best ‘60s session men that included Harry Lookofsky, whose son wrote “Walk Away Renee” for his group The Left Banke. The playing is suave and the arrangements sophisticated.

The smartly chosen covers are Tim Buckley’s “Morning Glory,” Goffin-King’s “So Much Love,” Harry Nilsson’s suave and deboner “Without Her” done as a bossa-nova and Randy Newman’s “Just One Smile.” But better than the covers are the dark blues/funk originals from Kooper among which are “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know,” “My Days Are Numbered” and “I Can’t Quit Her.”

The A&R work produced a dark album. Perhaps that’s why the album is sprinkled with unnecessary “humor” that detracted some when the album was first released and detracts more now. Fortunately there’s not much of it, but it includes manic cackling behind Al Kooper’s lovely “Overture” and a “zany” “House in the Country” by Kooper that has its compositional strengths and sketch-like weaknesses.

I remember buying this album upon its initial release. I’d gone down to New York to visit friends and stopped in at Sam Goody’s. The bizarre cover got me and then I noticed it was Kooper and Katz from The Blues Project and I bit. I also bought Steppenwolf’s debut for the aluminum foil cover before I’d heard “Born to Be Wild,” and The Moody Blues’ Days of Future Past again, just because the cover looked cool and what was on the back was so damn pretentious and ambitious.

Anyway, the original “360 Sound” edition of this record sounds fantastic. It’s a high quality Columbia studio recording, with vivid harmonics, impressive transparency and dynamics, shimmering highs and tight extended bass. The soundstage is expansive and the images tightly presented.

I’m not sure it can get much better than the original given how well-pressed Columbia records were in those days, especially if you have a clean original. That said, unlike the second BS&T album this one wasn’t all that popular so I’m not sure what’s out there in the used market. There are two reissues of this. One is from Sundazed and there’s a far more expensive one from Speakers Corner. The duplication that’s currently underway between domestic and overseas pressings seems to be growing as vinyl gains popularity and it confuses the marketplace.

The Speakers Corner reissue, which uses the wrong label art is pressed at Pallas and consequently it’s quieter and better finished overall. However, the Sundazed copy I got was very well finished and reasonably quiet, but not as quiet.

On the other hand the Speakers Corner version was somewhat more hyped up at the frequency extremes and cut somewhat hotter, but not objectionably so. The Sundazed sounds somewhat closer to the original overall, so for half the price, you do the math!

Thanks to Michael over at  for the exclusive rights to reprint this material.

Copyright © 2008 & Michael Fremer - All rights reserved Reprinted by permission

Music News & Notes

Roadrunner's Best Cover Art

Getting back to the Roadrunner album cover art feature, MACHINE HEAD's 'The Blackening' Is One Of 'Ten Greatest Album Covers in Roadrunner History'

Since 1910 musicians have associated visual arts with their sonic output in the form of the almighty album cover. And since 1987, Roadrunner Records has been a source of some visually stunning and visually disturbing images in the wide world of album art, nevertheless honoring the tradition. Whether using an image to set the tone for what's to follow on your speakers, or as a means of branding in forever associating a picture with a title, there is no question as to the power of the album cover — which is why the label took a look at every album released on Roadrunner Records U.S. to find the greatest covers in its celebrated history.

Voted on by the Roadrunner worldwide staff, showcasing the iconic vs. the blasphemous, the painted vs. the photographed, as well as the found art vs. the commissioned art, we give you the "Ten Greatest Album Covers in Roadrunner History" — one at a time.

Check back at every day as the label counts down to number one.


Methusalem Preview New Album

The Dutch Heavy Metal band Methusalem has set the release for their new album "Unite and Conquer" on March 26, 2010. This self-financed album will be distributed by Rock Inc.

When the band decided that it was time for a new, full-length album, they threw overboard all biases about how heavy metal should sound and listened very carefully to what producer Arno Krabman from Graveland Studios had to say about their current style. The result is an album that features a bunch of songs that are all miles apart, some more traditional, some more modern, yet all fitting perfectly into Methusalem's philosophy. That philosophy is still to rock the world with hard rock and heavy metal, but in stead of living in the past, they've now made an album that remembers the past.

The album was mastered by an international mastering professional, Darius van Helfteren, who had also previously worked with Judas Priest and the Scorpions. He gave the album that last edge that it needed to sound truly great. Finnish graphic designer Jan Yrlund was asked to create the artwork and succeeded in capturing the overall lyrical theme of the album in the cover artwork.


Five Jimi Hendrix Albums Land In The Top 100

Valleys of Neptune, the long-awaited album of previously unavailable Jimi Hendrix studio recordings, has debuted on the Billboard 200 best-selling albums chart at #4, while four additional Hendrix catalog titles -- Are You Experienced (#44), Electric Ladyland (#60), First Rays of the New Rising Sun (#63), and Axis: Bold As Love (#67) -- have returned to the Billboard 200 four decades after their original release dates, a testimony to the enduring vitality and importance of the trailblazing artist-guitarist-performer.

A newly curated album of 12 fully realized studio cuts, more than a hour's worth of previously unheard Jimi Hendrix music, Valleys of Neptune, the centerpiece of the historic 2010 Jimi Hendrix Catalog Project, rocketed to #1 on Amazon in anticipation of its release. The album debuted at #1 at Barnes & Noble, B&, Borders, J&R Music World, Newbury Comics, Fred Meyer, Easy Street (Seattle), Bull Moose; #2 at Amoeba and Music Monitor; #3 at Target and Best Buy. Approximately 20% of first week's sales have been in the digital realm.

"The consumer response to Valleys of Neptune and the Jimi Hendrix catalog has been phenomenal," said Adam Block, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Legacy Recordings. "It reminds us that his spirit still speaks to so many and inspires and motivates fans of all ages."

"It's really gratifying to know that my brother's music is still playing as vital a role in the culture today as it did when he recorded these tracks," said Janie Hendrix, CEO of Experience Hendrix LLC. "The acceptance of Valleys of Neptune and the classic catalog albums underscores the fact that his innovation and creative force are truly transcendent."


STONE TEMPLE PILOTS: New Album Artwork Unveiled

The cover artwork for STONE TEMPLE PILOTS' first new album in nine years, due on May 25 via Atlantic Records, can be viewed below.

According to The Pulse of Radio, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS unveiled the new CD at a private listening party on February 23 in New York City. The entire band was in attendance at the event, with The Pulse of Radio's reporter on the scene saying that singer Scott Weiland "looked the best he's looked in a long time." All 12 tracks from the album were aired, with The Pulse of Radio reporter calling the record "a natural, melodic progression for STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, with BEATLES-esque harmonies, a lot of in-your-face, hard-rocking tracks, plenty of guitar solos and some astounding singing from Weiland."


Smashing Pumpkins Set EP Release and In Store Performance

Teargarden by Kaleidyscope finds Billy Corgan and his Smashing Pumpkins releasing the 44-song project as free digital downloads. Periodically, the band will release bundles of these tracks as limited edition EPs. The first EP, Vol. 1: Songs For A Sailor", is set for release on May 25th. This very limited edition collectors EP will be packaged in a beautiful collector's silk-screened wooden box. Each box will contain a 4-song CD, a vinyl 7" and a hand-carved obelisk.

Exclusive Black Light Poster w/ Preorder! Starting April 17th (Record Store Day), fans who preorder the EP from their local indie record stores will get an exclusive black light poster!

The pre-order is exclusive to independent record stores.


Dead Weather Set New Album Release

Antiquiet had this big news for Jack White fans: There have been a few rumors surrounding The Dead Weather's new album (some of which was spurred by Jack White himself on The Vault), but now we have what seems to be an official word on the title, release date and at least a taste of the first single. The first single will be called "Die By The Drop," and it will be released next week, March 23rd, with a b-side cut called "Old Mary."


R.E.M Star To Take Part In Alex Chilton Tribute At SXSW 2010

The remaining members of Big Star are set to perform a musical tribute to their late bandmate Alex Chilton at the South By Southwest (SXSW) festival on Saturday. The singer and guitarist passed away at a hospital in New Orleans on Wednesday, suffering from heart problems. He was 59.

Big Star, who had been booked to perform at the festival in Texas before Chilton's death, will be joined by a host of special guests. These include Mike Mills of the band R.E.M, who have spoken in the past about Chilton's impact on their music.

"It'll be just a cool way for us to all share that music Alex was part of," Big Star's Jody Stephens told Billboard.

The drummer added that he was “grateful” for the interest people have shown in the band in the days since Chilton's death. Born in Memphis, Tennessee in December 1950, Chilton originally found fame as a teenager with the Box Tops. But it was with Big Star where he became a hero for musicians around the world.


Elton John & Leon Russell Complete New Album,

It's being reported that Elton John and Leon Russell have completed the recording of their upcoming album together and it is about to go to the mixing phase. According to songwriter Bernie Taupin's website, the album is expected to be released in the fall and will be a total of 16 tracks. Guests include Neil Young, Booker T. Jones, Brian Wilson, Robert Randolph and Jim Keltner. T-Bone Burnett is producing.

According to the site:

The trio has cut fifteen songs [now reported at sixteen] ranging from Stones like rockers, Country tinged ballads, Gospel and even a Sinatra like weepy similar to something torn from the grooves of “In the Wee Small Hours” As reported before it’s varied in scope and drenched in a rich tapestry of atmospherics. Don’t expect to hear the old EJ/BT sound; this is organic recording unlike anything you’ve heard from our duo before.


Album Cover: Erykah Badu – ‘New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh’

Erykah Badu keeps an open mind on the cover of her fifth studio album, New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh, coming into bloom March 30. The artwork was illustrated by artist EMEK, who designed the cover for its predecessor. The soul sister will make appearances on “The Wendy Williams Show” (3/25), “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (3/30), “The Wanda Sykes Show” (4/3), and “Chelsea Lately” (4/5) to promote the album.

Oxfam shops propel new Arctic Monkeys single to success

Following the phenomenal success of 'Crying Lightning' and 'Cornerstone', the 7" and 10" of which were available exclusively through Oxfam shops, Arctic Monkeys are once again teaming up with the charity for the follow-up single 'My Propeller'.

The single marks the first time a charity has distributed a series of releases by a major artist, and reflects the changing face of music distribution over the last few years.

The limited-edition 'My Propeller' 10" goes on sale exclusively in 148 Oxfam shops across the UK on Monday 22 March. The record is the third single from the recent number one album Humbug, and features new track ‘Joining The Dots’ as well as exclusive B-sides 'The Afternoon’s Hat' and 'Don’t Forget Whose Legs You’re On'.

The 'Crying Lightning' 7" sold approximately 10,000 copies in just a few weeks, making it one of the biggest-selling vinyl singles so far this century. Sales of 'Crying Lightning' bucked the industry trend for 7" sales, which have more than halved since 2007, and currently command just a 0.4 per cent market share¹.

'Cornerstone' sold out in Oxfam shops and online in just a couple of weeks.

The 'My Propeller' 10" costs £4.99, and each single comes with a download code allowing fans to get an MP3 version of the songs for free.

Domino and Arctic Monkeys are also calling on music fans to bring any unwanted albums or singles to their local Oxfam shop to help Oxfam keep turning yesterday’s hits into vital funds for years to come.

David McCullough, Oxfam’s director of trading, said:

"The partnership with Domino and Arctic Monkeys has broken new ground for us, and we’re delighted to be continuing it.

"But 'My Propeller' isn’t the only music exclusive in Oxfam shops – every shop has its own unique stock of music. As everyone from DJs to vinyl aficionados knows, our shops are one of the best places on the high street to pick up hidden treasures."

Oxfam has an illustrious musical history spanning decades:

More than 600 Oxfam shops across the country sell second-hand music – double the total number of independent record shops in the UK².

The charity sells approximately £6 million of music every year, enough to fund its entire programme in Indonesia for a year, buy 187,000 emergency shelters, or provide safe water for eight million people.

Oxfam sells around 1.8 million CDs and records every year, all donated by the British public. The largest single donation was of 4,000 vinyl albums to an Oxfam shop in Devon in 2008.

The charity’s Oxjam festival has raised more than £1 million through 3,000 events featuring more than 36,000 musicians, including Jarvis Cocker, Fatboy Slim, and Hot Chip.

To find your nearest Oxfam shop stocking ‘My Propeller’, or to order a copy online, visit 

The Arctic Monkeys are currently on tour in the USA and Mexico, with dates running until 22 April.

¹ According to BPI figures for vinyl sales 1999-2008.

² There are 305 independent record shops in the UK, according to 2008 figures from the Entertainment Retailers Association.