Blood, Sweat & Tears: Child Is Father To The Man (180g Stereo)
(2009/SUNDAZED) 1968 Columbia Debut Album
Although they would go on to become one of the most commercially successful acts of the 1970s, most observers agree that Blood, Sweat & Tears’ 1968 debut effort Child Is Father to the Man remains the ambitious ensemble’s finest and most enduring musical statement. The band’s only album under the leadership of legendary singer / keyboardist Al Kooper, Child Is Father to the Man stands with such late-’60s art-pop landmarks as the Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle and Love’s Forever Changes in capturing the period’s seemingly limitless creative possibilities.
Child Is Father to the Man is a brilliant reflection of the desire of Kooper—a former member of the seminal Blues Project and a key collaborator in Bob Dylan’s early electric work—to use an expanded instrumental lineup to explore a broader range of sounds, styles and compositional approaches. Towards that end, he launched Blood, Sweat & Tears, recruiting a stellar assortment of players from the worlds of rock and jazz, including ex-Blues Project guitarist Steve Katz, former Buffalo Springfield/Mothers of Invention bassist Jim Fielder, jazz drummer Bobby Colomby and noted jazz horn players Randy Brecker, Dick Halligan, Fred Lipsius and Jerry Weiss.
The resulting album (produced by fabled studio genius John Simon) was a seamlessly eclectic psychedelic-rock-jazz-classical fusion, with such diverse tracks as Kooper’s gritty compositions “I Can’t Quit Her' and “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know,' as well as his playfully arty “House in the Country' and “The Modern Adventures of Plato, Diogenes and Freud,' along with stirring readings of Tim Buckley’s “Morning Glory,' Harry Nilsson’s “Without Her' and Randy Newman’s “Just One Smile.'
Kooper’s expansive musical vision may have been a bit too far ahead of its time. Although it was a favorite of early FM album-rock DJs, Child Is Father to the Man barely scraped the Billboard Top 50 and failed to produce a hit single. However, in the years since, the album has been widely recognized for its expressiveness and originality, and embraced by successive generations of listeners. For instance, it received a prominent placement in Rolling Stone’s 2003 ranking of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Now, Child Is Father to the Man is back in its original vinyl format with Sundazed’s definitive new LP edition. With meticulously reproduced original cover art, this vintage musical landmark has been remastered from the original analog master tapes and is pressed on high-quality, high-definition vinyl.
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Blood, Sweat and Tears was the brainchild of Al Kooper, following the demise of his Blues Project in 1968. One of the first rock bands with a full horn section, it was founded on the premise that rock is art, or at least arty eclecticism. On their debut album, Child Is Father To The Man (Colum-bia), the eclecticism worked more often than not. The origi-nal line-up was Kooper (keyboards, vocals), Steve Katz (guitar), Jim Fielder (bass), Bobby Colomby (drums), Randy Brecker, Jerry Weiss (trumpets), Dick Halligan (trombone) and Fred Lipsius (alto-sax).
But Kooper left almost im-mediately, and leadership of the band fell to Katz (also ex-Blues Project) and new singer David Clayton-Thomas, a big-voiced Canadian. And where the first album had mixed rock, folk, blues, jazz and classical music into something resembling coherence, the second presented a taste of rock here, a smattering of jazz there, a classical interlude else-where. 'You Made Me So Happy' was a huge hit in 1969, and there was no turning back. Commercial success grew by leaps and bounds, as did charges of 'pretentiousness.
By 1970, most of the group's original audience was gone, replaced by the sort of man who picks his mood music by scanning the Playboy Jazz and Pop Poll. They duplicated their records almost note-for-note in concert. There followed Las Vegas engagements, State De-partment tours behind the Iron Curtain, and albums full of songs by Lennon—McCartney, Jagger—Richard, Satie, Little Walter, Prokofiev, and James Taylor — none of which bore any resemblance to the original in the BS&T versions, although they certainly sounded a lot like each other. Per-sonnel changes increased until the group finally fell apart entirely in 1973.
By then, for better or for worse, it had become one of the most influential groups ever, and the horn section in rock bands was here to stay.