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Reissues: Blood, Sweat and Tears: The Complete Columbia Singles

BST8By Ken Paulson

From 1969 through 1971, it looked like horn bands might rule the world. Blood, Sweat and Tears had three top 10 singles in 1969, the Ides of March went to #2 with “Vehicle” in 1970 and Chicago broke through with three hit singles the same year.

44 years later, Chicago is on the Grammys with Robin Thicke, the Ides of March play occasional dates in Chicago and a reconstituted Blood, Sweat and Tears still tours under the direction of original drummer Bobby Colomby .

Blood, Sweat and Tears was hot – and then was not. What once was the hippest horn band lost its footing with multiple personnel changes and direction shifts.

That’s captured beautifully on Blood, Sweat and Tears: The Complete Columbia Singles on from Real Gone Music. The two-disc, 32-track set offers up both the A-sides and B-sides that document the evolution and  unraveling of the band.

The first disc opens with “I  Can’t Quit Her,” the near-hit recorded by the Al Kooper-led version of the band. By the next album, Kooper was gone, David Clayton-Thomas joined as lead vocalist and the band exploded into the Top 40 with “Spinning Wheel, ” “And When I Die”  and “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.” The original mono and edited versions are in this collection

The retrospective offers some revelations. “Lisa, Listen to Me” was a brilliant record that should have been a much bigger hit. The band’s final charting single – “Got to Get You Into My Life” in 1975 foreshadowed the Earth, Wind and Fire cover in 1978.  And despite a constantly-changing cast, the musicianship stayed strong even when the material wasn’t.

Predictably, the first hit-laden disc is stronger than the second disc, which largely features Clayton-Thomas’s successors. Still, it’s a fascinating and fulfilling collection and a must for fans of Blood, Sweat and Tears.

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