What goes up must come down. So sang David Clayton-Thomas in the opening line of his Grammy-winning song "Spinning Wheel," which became a No. 2 Pop/No. 1 AC in 1969 for Blood, Sweat & Tears. And so went the fortunes of the jazz-rock band itself. The band's signature rock-with-horns style was soon eclipsed by that of Chicago (Transit Authority), who shared a producer in James William Guercio. But when BS&T was hot, few bands were hotter. Wounded Bird Records is revisiting the group's peak era with the July 2 release of Rare, Rarer & Rarest, which lives up to its name by bringing mono single mixes, previously unreleased outtakes, and much of the soundtrack to 1970's The Owl and the Pussycat to CD for the first time.
Despite 1968's strong debut Child is Father of the Man, with Al Kooper as chief songwriter, Blood, Sweat & Tears quickly parted ways with founding members Kooper, Randy Brecker and Jerry Weiss. Just months later, the group re-emerged with a new, self-titled album, adding Lew Soloff, Jerry Hyman, Chuck Winfield and Canadian lead vocalist David Clayton-Thomas to the mix. (Bobby Colomby, Steve Katz, Jim Fielder, Dick Halligan and Fred Lipsius all remained in the band.) Blood, Sweat & Tears, produced by James William Guercio (The Buckinghams, Chicago), rocketed the band to superstardom with the hit singles "You've Made Me So Very Happy," "Spinning Wheel," and "And When I Die." And Clayton-Thomas quickly established himself as a contender for the title of best blue-eyed soul vocalist out there. Blood, Sweat & Tears was a platinum-selling, Grammy-winning Album of the Year. But inner turmoil still plagued the band. 1970's follow-up Blood, Sweat & Tears 3 also reached No. 1, but following 1971's fourth album, Clayton-Thomas, Halligan and Lipsius all departed for greener pastures. Clayton-Thomas was back in the fold by 1975, but the time for Blood, Sweat & Tears had passed. The band continued to record, with diminishing returns, despite the presence of well-known producers including Steve Tyrell, Bob James, Henry Cosby and Jimmy Ienner. BS&T's final studio album was released in 1980. Clayton-Thomas toured under the band's name until 2004, and today, a Bobby Colomby-directed unit tours under the name through the present day.
What will you find on Rare, Rarer & Rarest? Hit the jump!
Wounded Bird has reissued much of the BS&T catalogue on CD over the years, most recently 1976's In Concert. But this entry marks the label's first unique compilation for the band. It begins with eight singles, including mono mixes of major hits like "You've Made Me So Very Happy," "Spinning Wheel," "And When I Die" and "Hi-De-Ho (That Old Sweet Roll)." The B-side of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's "So Long Dixie," "Krakbergravningen (The Crow's Funeral," has been included, as well as one previously unreleased song, "M."
But the band's soundtrack recordings to The Owl and the Pussycat are the main attraction on Rare, Rarer & Rarest. The 1970 movie, directed by Herbert Ross (Funny Girl, Pennies From Heaven), starred Barbra Streisand and George Segal. Buck Henry (The Graduate) based his screenplay on Bill Manhoff's play which originally starred Alan Alda and Diana Sands on Broadway. Blood, Sweat & Tears' Dick Halligan was chosen to write and arrange the score to the risqué film comedy which was played by the band. Columbia Records released an original soundtrack recording, produced by legendary cast album guru Thomas Z. Shepard (Company, Follies in Concert). But the soundtrack consisted of "Comedy Highlights and Music," meaning that Henry's dialogue was heard over the instrumental score. For its very first appearance on CD, it appears that Wounded Bird will release Halligan's score to The Owl and the Pussycat without the film dialogue. The band's sublime funk-jazz tracks will doubtless be a great surprise to those who only know BS&T's pop side. Wounded Bird is releasing the original tracks - indexed differently than they were on the soundtrack album - and also is including four never-before-heard outtakes.
Rare, Rarer & Rarest arrives on July 2. You can pre-order below!
Blood, Sweat & Tears, Rare, Rarer & Rarest (Wounded Bird, 2013)
- You've Made Me So Very Happy (Mono Single Version) (3:26) (Columbia 4-44776, 1969)
- Blues-Part II (Mono Single Version) (5:26) (Columbia 4-44776, 1969)
- More And More (Mono Single Version) (2:38) (Columbia 4-44871, 1969)
- Spinning Wheel (Mono Single Version) (2:39) (Columbia 4-44871, 1969)
- And When I Die (Mono Single Version) (3:26) (Columbia 4-45008, 1969)
- Hi-De-Ho (Single Version) (4:05) (Columbia 4-45204, 1970)
- Got To Get You Into My Life (Single Version) (3:09) (Columbia 3-10151, 1975)
- Krakbergravningen (The Crow's Funeral) (3:48) (Columbia 4-45661, 1972)
- M (4:38) (previously unreleased)
- The Confrontation (Instrumental Interlude - Part 1) (2:19)
- The Confrontation (Instrumental Interlude - Part 2) (2:28)
- The Warmup (Instrumental Interlude - Part 1) (:40)
- The Warmup (Instrumental Interlude - Part 2) (2:17)
- The Seduction (Instrumental Interlude - Part 1) (:21)
- The Seduction (Instrumental Interlude - Part 2) (:45)
- The Morning After (Instrumental Interlude - Part 1) (1:20)
- The Morning After (Instrumental Interlude - Part 2) (1:08)
- The Morning After (Instrumental Interlude - Part 3) (1:30)
- The Reunion (Instrumental Interlude - Part 1) (1:58)
- The Reunion (Instrumental Interlude - Part 2) (:19)
- Just Want To Mention (You've Been Alone Too Long) (The Owl and the Pussycat - Closing Credits) (3:08)
- The Owl and the Pussycat (Instrumental Interlude - Outtake 1) (1:23)
- The Owl and the Pussycat (Instrumental Interlude - Outtake 2) (3:21)
- The Owl and the Pussycat (Instrumental Interlude - Outtake 3) (:44)
- The Owl and the Pussycat (Instrumental Interlude - Outtake 4) (:20)
Tracks 10-21 originally released in different form with dialogue excerpts on The Owl and the Pussycat: Comedy Highlights and Music from the Soundtrack, Columbia LP S 30401, 1971
Tracks 21-25 are previously unreleased outtakes from The Owl and the Pussycat
Nice that this sort of thing is out there, despite the fact that I think this material has dated really poorly. But what's up with the hideous cover and font?
Not to musicians, it hasn't. It was uber cool,then and it's retro uber cool now. As for "Punk/New Wave" I'll leave my appraisal of that to Frank Zappa's "Tinseltown Rebellion". I couldn't have said it better myself. As for the cover, it's the photo montage from their 2nd album WITHOUT the abstract artwork that now (I'm pretty certain) resides with Steve Katz-minus the portrait photo heads. It's possible that this was the only part of the image that could be licensed with the music. I don't KNOW that, but it wouldn't surpise me.
That IS a truly awful cover!