This is one of the most underrated albums in the history of Blood, Sweat & Tears. Finally it was released and I was ecstatic.
Jerry Fisher never got his due. With a voice as powerful as Clayton-Thomas and with as profound a blues influence, Fisher delivers on all the vocal cuts on this recording. Without stance or affectation Fisher delivers the goods.
The personnel in this version of the group is exceptional. Here we have Dave Bargeron, Larry Willis, Georg Wadenius, Tom Malone, Lou Marini, Bobby Colomby, Big Jim Fielder, Jerry Fisher and Lew Soloff. This particular unit melds their varying styles and influences more seamlessly than previous versions of the group.
Georg Wadenius is a remarkable with his unique style on guitar, musical sense and discretion. His vocals and playing definitely helped change the sound of the group toward something new. Years before George Benson, Georg melded vocals with guitar much more elegantly and fluently than Mr. Benson. With Georg it was more the voice as instrument in harmony with his guitar than voice over guitar. Georg can play so many different styles and has a remarkable economy when the piece calls for it. Definitely the best guitarist the band has ever had.
Larry Willis is another one who helped change the sound and tone of things with his modern electric keyboard approach that conjures Herbie Hancock sensibilities (they are both very close in age with similar influences). A strong arranger and marvelous soloist. He can really accompany a soloist well.
Lou Marini Jr. is stronger here than he was in New Blood, playiing tenor and soprano. He shines throughout. Tom Malone is every bit the equal of Lew Soloff on this recording. As powerful and perfect counterpart to Lew who is simply Lew Soloff on this. Those of you who are fans of the group know what I mean. Those of you, who are not, well Lew is a cat who can play anything and can solo with fire and virtuosity.
The choice of songs is eclectic. Some real bluesy rockers, one cover which is an exceptional cover of Traffic's "Empty Pages" which shows off Jerry Fishers power to good advantage. A strong progressive instrumental called "Inner Crisis" which shows off Georg Wadenius' uniqueness to great effect.
The group features some beautiful short instrumentals that segue nicely in both cases to some real rockers.
"Almost Sorry", "Empty Pages", "Back Up Against the Wall", "Inner Crisis", "Save Our Ship" are all real high points in the group's repertoire.
The arrangements are all top flight. The brass section that this group is known for is every bit the match for any version this group has ever had.
The arrangments make use of the new members quite well and without ever being clinical. Everything with the song in mind and in context.
"No Sweat" ranks right up there for me. The virtuosity matches the first two recording. The material is as varied and as interesting.
This one doesn't disappoint.