What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat and Tears? That's the question posed by award-winning filmmaker John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Herb Alpert Is...) in an upcoming documentary film exploring the band's controversial State Department-sponsored trip behind the Iron Curtain in 1970. On April 21, Omnivore Recordings will release the soundtrack to the film on CD and digital formats as well as a digital-only companion of its instrumental score.
Though the horn-rock band founded by Al Kooper, Steve Katz, Bobby Colomby, Jim Fielder, Dick Halligan, Randy Brecker, and Jerry Weiss produced some of the most enduring singles of the late 1960s and early 1970s - songs still played on the radio today - the group has long lingered in the shadows of rock's back pages. Eclipsed in fame by Columbia Records labelmates Chicago, plagued by a series of acrimonious departures from the ranks, and pilloried over the Nixon-sponsored tour, BS&T never earned the classic rock status many felt they deserved. Scheinfeld's documentary aims to change that.
When the U.S. State Department approached the band in 1970, they were on top of the world. Their eponymous second album, introducing lead singer David Clayton-Thomas' deep, resonant vocals, yielded three smash singles in "You've Made Me So Very Happy," "And When I Die," and the DCT-penned "Spinning Wheel" and bested The Beatles' Abbey Road for the Album of the Year Grammy Award.
Then BS&T was invited to become the first American rock band to perform behind the Iron Curtain (the political boundary dividing Europe into two areas, in place from 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991). Concerts were staged in Yugoslavia, Romania, and Poland, and a film crew accompanied the band with the aim of producing a documentary film. More than 65 hours of footage were captured, but the film never materialized. The band members never saw the footage, and upon their return to the U.S., were caught in the middle of a political fracas as the youth movement saw them as puppets of the Nixon administration. BS&T endured numerous personnel shifts and continued to record for Columbia through 1976, for a total of nine albums - two more would arrive on the ABC and MCA labels in 1977 and 1980, respectively - but never recaptured their early glory.
Though the band's history has been plagued by acrimony over the years, Scheinfeld's documentary tells the story with the interview participation of five band members including David Clayton-Thomas, saxophonist/arranger Fred Lipsius, bassist Jim Fielder, guitarist Steve Katz, and drummer/bandleader Bobby Colomby. Omnivore's soundtrack premieres 10 previously unreleased live performances from the Iron Curtain tour including "You've Made Me So Very Happy," "Spinning Wheel," "And When I Die," "Hi-De-Ho (That Old Sweet Roll)," and "I Can't Quit Her." Other than the band's Woodstock set (released for the first time on the 2019 Rhino mega-box), this marks the only live document of this era of the group; Columbia didn't release a live BS&T album until 1976.
The album has been produced and compiled by Bobby Colomby, who joins Scheinfeld to provide the liner notes. Colomby has also co-composed the film's original score with David Mann which Omnivore will release as a digital-only title. The score (amounting to roughly 20 minutes of music) is performed by the current 2023 lineup of Blood, Sweat and Tears, in essence amounting to the band's first studio release since 1980. (No CD or LP has been announced for this short program.)
What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat and Tears? arrives in theatres on March 24 in New York and Los Angeles before expanding nationally from Abramorama, with the soundtrack and score release coming on April 21 from Omnivore. You'll find pre-order links below.
What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears? Original Soundtrack (Omnivore, 2023) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
- Something's Coming On
- God Bless The Child
- Spinning Wheel
- Somethin' Goin' On/Blues Part II
- And When I Die
- Sometimes In Winter
- Smiling Phases
- You've Made Me So Very Happy
- I Can't Quit Her
What The Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears? Original Score (Omnivore, 2023)
- Opening Montage and Main Title
- DCT Arrested
- The Cold War
- Grammy Win
- Bucharest Manifesto
- Romanian Beating
- Congressman Blowhard
- Congressman Blowhard Speaks
- Press Conference
John F says
Hadn't heard of the Iron Curtain trip. Great info, thank you.
Not embarrassed to say that I never cared for them. Horns have always been a bit hard on my ears. Clayton's voice always grated and local AM radio played Spinning Wheel a few too many times, wearing it out.
If you want to know what happened to BS&T, read Al Kooper's book "Backstage Passes & Back-Stabbing Bastards"
it was als vocals that were the weak point.he knew that and they did to. get a better vocalist have al sing some do arrangments etc and it would of been great. but his solo track on child is the father is AWFUL. thats the breaking point right there. EGO
Phil Cohen says
I'd still be receptive to the release of some Blood,Sweat and Tears outtakes (If there are any remaining in the vaults), as long as they are from the group's years with the Columbia label.
hi phil. those demos on the first lp are it.woodstock 69 and this show are valuable asset to the original group. there is a boston tea party show from feb 69 that does circulate, sound b + with kooper, audience. cafe a go go 9/6 68., newport jazz 7/4/69, san antiono texas, 11/30/ 69.thats it.
sorry forgot one thing. meet al and he told me those demos have session players to see what what it would sound like and he has no other material live or studio. the only show is the boston tea party done in their first week of touring.