Upon the release of the first Blood, Sweat & Tears album, 'Child is Father to the Man' (1968), I immediately fell in love with this album and this band. By turns quirky and jazz-inflected horn-rock, it stands as one of the great albums of all-time. (This was back in the days when just about any record you bought was assuredly gonna be at least good - often great.) This incarnation of B,S&T was the first, and best, headed by legendary founder/vocalist/organist Al Kooper, and formed from the remains of the late, great, lamented Blues Project. Kooper left after this first disc, but B,S&T, the band, carried on through numerous personnel changes and various incarnations, and is still working today, living on long-past glories, their output since 'Blood, Sweat & Tears 3' being spotty at best.
That first album, and their second, 'Blood, Sweat & Tears' (sans Kooper), are considered the band's best by a wide margin. By the release of their third disc, 'Blood, Sweat & Tears 3' (1970), their overall originality, personality and lone charisma had pretty much given way to MOR, ho-hum, commercial-slick R&B-flavored horn-rock. Now lead vocalist David Clayton-Thomas (replacing Kooper on the second album) and an ever-changing band line-up were all over the radio - and the public couldn't get enough.
Renowned audiophile label Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MoFi) has now released a stereo only Hybrid SACD (also plays on CD players) of, arguably, B,S&T's last worthwhile album, 'Blood, Sweat & Tears 3'. Containing the vastly over-played hits "Hi-De-Ho" and "Lucretia MacEvil", this 10 song set (also including covers of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain", a radically reworked Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" and Traffic's "40,000 Headmen"), given over to MoFi's fanatical sound experts, sounds better than it has any right to.
These middle-of-the-road adult-contemporary "classics" simply shine with clarity. The music bursts forth from the speakers with such a studio-slick shine that it almost sounds too perfect - but we can't fault that. The dynamic range is good, transient response (such as a drum's "thwack") is excellent, frequency balance is very good, and the presence is good. The horns are not overly tizzy, but the recording, in general, is a bit bright. Stereo separation is very good, but soundstage depth and width are lacking, although the three-dimensionality "reaching" out into the listening room (as the best stereo SACDs seem to do) is quite good. The real downside dogging this release is the ever-present tape hiss and, at times, audible pops. Given MoFi's reputation, we tend to blame this on the condition of the transfer tapes used - "Original Master Recordings" is a trademark of Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. We take them at their word.
MoFi's stereo Hybrid SACD release of 'Blood, Sweat & Tears 3' sounds the best this disc has ever sounded, no question. If you want a stereo SACD that will test your systems accuracy, low-end to high, put this one on your list. If you're a fan of the early B,S&T stuff, check it out. Recommended. (Now, Sony, how 'bout 'Child is Father to the Man' on SACD - again ?!)
Release Date: February 10, 2004
Tracks: 10 - Time: N/A
Produced by: Bobby Colomby & Roy Halee
Hi-De-Ho / The Battle / Lucretia MacEvil / Lucretia's Reprise / Fire and Rain / Lonesome Suzie / Sympathy For the Devil - Sympathy For the Devil / He's a Runner / Somethin' Comin' On / 40,000 Headmen.
Blood, Sweat & Tears:
Dick Hallagan - Vocals / Various Instruments
Steve Katz - Guitar / Vocals / Harmonica
Fred Lipsius - Alto Saxophone / Vocals / Piano / Electric Piano / Musicbox
Bobby Colomby - Drums / Vocals / Percussion
David Clayton-Thomas - Vocals
Jerry Hyman - Recorder / Trombone / Bass Trombone
Lew Soloff/Chuck Winfield - Piccolo Trumpet / Trumpet / Flugelhorn
Jim Fielder - Bass.