Saturday, December 17, 2011

264- Child is the Father to the Man. Blood, Sweat, Tears and Nuts.



Album: Child is the Father to the Man
Artist: Blood Sweat and Tears
Year: 1968
Genre: Almost all of them.

Tracks

  1. Overture
  2. I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know
  3. Morning Glory
  4. My Days Are Numbered
  5. Without Her
  6. Just One Smile
  7. I Can't Quit Her
  8. Meagan's Gypsy Eyes
  9. Somethin' Goin' On
  10. House in the Country
  11. The Modern Adventures of Plato, Diogenes and Freud
  12. So Much Love/Underture

(Apologies to all. This post should have appeared last month but was overlooked. Sorry if you were waiting for it)

Child is the Father to the Man begins with an overture: a 93 second piece arranged for strings which perfectly introduces the album. Not only does it feature the main refrain of most of the songs that follow, it's also overdubbed with manic and demented laughter. That's Blood Sweat and Tears for you: music with catchy tunes created by mad people.

Blood Sweat and Tears bubbled out of the crazy mind of Al Kooper, who is often the crankiest and weirdest person in any documentary about Bob Dylan (he played on Like a Rolling Stone and as he's told inquisitive interviewers on camera, is bored of talking about it). He started the band with a view to combining musical genres into a new musical form. The end result is a series of pop songs with blues affectations, or blues songs with strings, or rock with horns, or jazz with catchy vocals all blended together with a few covers and a divergence into hippie waffle. It's like nothing you've ever heard and at times it's brilliant and at others it's just dreadful.

The highlights all belong to Kooper: I love you more than you'll ever know, I can't Quit Her and Something's Going On are fantastic blues tracks with wailing horns and a great beat. If it was all this good I'd love it to shreds.

Sadly the rest of the album brings the whole thing down a few notches. Meagan's Gypsy Eyes is a pointless acid-soaked hippy trip that sounds like one of those songs which really spoke to people wearing joss-stink reeking tie-dye in the sixties but is sadly inadequate when listened to outside it's own era. Morning Glory is a really embarrassing attempt to patronize the homeless as a kitsch ballad dedicated to a hobo. It sounds dated now but then it probably sounded passe the second it limped out of the studio. Listening to it I was instantly transported to a B-grade sixties movie- suddenly my life was full of badly focused psychedelic colours and wood paneled rooms. I had to suppress a mad urge to grow sideburns and a moustache.

Child is the Father to The Man makes you appreciate that Al Kooper was more than just a regular contributer to Dylan's recorded and stage work. He was also a great writer and band leader. It's a shame he left BS&T after this and never really matched his efforts here.

Highlight: I can't Quit Her.
Lowlight: Meagan's Gypsy Eyes.

Influenced by: Everything going.
Influenced: The rest of the band's career, which never came close.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "You can't qualify 'coolness'. You can't take an empirical measure of it but you know it when it is there. Bands like The Beatles had it, Traffic had it, Jimi Hendrix positively oozed it. But Blood, Sweat and Tears seem to be just short of the mark, like the potentially good looking kid at school that always wore the hand-made, woolen sweaters his grand mother knitted him. "

-Anyone else describe music in relation to knitwear? I think the practice should be a lot more widespread.

So is this album in your blood or does it make you shed tears of rage? Let me know below.

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