SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Blood, Sweat & Tears – Columbia/ORG (45 rpm double album, vinyl)

A classic from 1968 that was in many of our collections, but not in nearly the fidelity of these 45 rpm reissues.

Published on July 17, 2013

Blood, Sweat & Tears – [TrackList follows] Columbia CS 9720/ Original Recordings Group 45 rpm 180g vinyl reissue double album ORG 133 [3/26/13] *****:

(Al Kooper was the original bandleader, and the rest of the band was: Jim Fielder, Fred Lipsius, Randy Brecker, Jerry Weiss, Dick Halligan, Steve Katz and Bobby Colomby. Several guest artists contributed and the producer was James William Guercio)

This was the second album from Blood, Sweat & Tears, who had taken their name from a 1963 Johnny Cash album. The band was originally inspired by the “brass-rock” ideas of The Buckinghams, as well as the early ‘60s Maynard Ferguson Orchestra. Other similar horn-dominated groups included Chicago, Electric Flag and The Brecker Brothers. Al Kooper, who had been the group’s original bandleader, was still involved in this album, but he had been forced out of the band to become a record producer for Columbia. Randy Brecker and Jerry Weiss also left after the first album was released, and at the recommendation of Judy Collins, Canadian singer David Clayton-Thomas has been brought in to be the main lead singer.

This album has a different dynamic from the first, and is more pop-oriented. It quickly became Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards. It got plenty of airplay on the new rock FM stations at the time. The three big hits of the album were “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” “Spinning Wheel,” and Laura Nyro’s “And When I Die.” Few of the tracks came from within the band. A classical feeling is imparted by the opening and closing tracks, which are adapted from one of Erik Satie’s Trois Gymnopedies by arranger Dick Halligan. They bookend this album—one of the most original in pop music ever—most successfully.

This has always seemed to me one of the best-designed and performed of all the ‘60s rock efforts, and it’s great to have it in the ultimate fidelity of this newly-remastered 45 rpm version, altho many won’t be able to enjoy it because of its price: around $65 on Amazon—though you can probably find it cheaper.. It’s also been reissued on 33⅓ vinyl by Pure Pleasure. Sony Music didn’t do a bad job on their early stereo SACD reissue of this album, though I’m told the Mobile Fidelity stereo SACD is better.

In comparison with the Columbia SACD, the vinyl 45s win out.  They have much more deep bass end and a warmer overall feeling than the SACD. On the 45s, there is absolutely no surface noise or distortion, except where intended on some of the instruments. David Clayton-Thomas’ voice is dead center when played back  using the ProLogic IIz height setting as I do. It’s not spread across the soundstage (which occurs with plain stereo) or enveloped by the instruments as on many albums. In fact, if you use a pseudo-surround setting of any sort, you may wish to raise the level of the center channel since his voice is a bit low in relation to the band. “Only” 2500 numbered copies of each of these ORG double-album 45 reissues are being released. ORG has established itself as the Rolls-Royce of the audiophile vinyl reissue genre.

TrackList:

1. Variations on a Theme by Eric Satie
2. Smiling Phases
3. Sometimes in Winter
4. More and More
5. And When I Die
6. God Bless the Child
7. Spinning Wheel
8. You’ve Made me So Very Happy
9. Blues – Part II
10. Variations on a Theme By Eric Satie

—John Henry




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