Sunday, 8 February 2009

"David Clayton-Thomas" by DAVID CLAYTON-THOMAS [of Blood, Sweat & Tears] (2006 Repertoire CD Reissue and Remaster of his 1972 Debut Album) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Why Am I Fighting To Live If I'm Just Living To Fight…"

Surrey-born David Thomsett moved with his Canadian-born father and musical English mum to the suburbs of Toronto when he was just a 6 year-old child. Hot-blooded and driven, he left home at 14, waded through reformatories, farm jobs and bar bands until he finally hit pay dirt with Al Kooper's BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS in 1968. 

By the time he was 30 (and with his surname changed) - David Clayton-Thomas was ready to release his debut. And having fronted the mighty BST as its funky and fantastic Lead Vocalist for "Blood, Sweat & Tears" (1969), "Blood, Sweat & Tears 3" (1970) and "B, S & T: 4" in 1971 – his 1972 solo LP was simply more of the same. Which brings us to the CD reissue of it - too quietly forgotten it seems when I'd argue it shouldn't be...

UK released March 2006 - "David Clayton-Thomas" by DAVID CLAYTON-THOMAS [of Blood, Sweat & Tears] on Repertoire RES 2300 (Barcode 400910230022) is a straightforward CD remaster of his 1972 debut solo album on Columbia records and plays out as follows (33:50 minutes):

1. Magnificent Sanctuary Band [Dorsey Burnette cover] - featuring Mike Deasy & David Cohen on Guitars with Clydie King & Vanetta Fields on Backing Vocals

2. We're All Meat From The Same Bone [Gary Zekley song] - featuring Steve Cropper of Booker T & The MG’s on Guitar with Bobby Colomby of Blood, Sweat & Tears on Tambourine

3. Stealin' In The Name Of The Lord [Paul Kelly cover] - featuring Paul Cannon with Steve Cropper on Guitars, Jay Spell on Keyboards with Clydie King and Vanetta Fields on Backing Vocals

4. Dying To Live [Edgar Winter cover] - arranged & conducted by Klaus Ogerman, it also features Hugh McCracken & Sal DiTroia on Guitars, Frank Owens on Piano with the Strings Arranged by Julie Held

5. Sing A Song [Gary Wright cover (formerly with Spooky Tooth)] - featuring Mike Deasy & David Cohen on Guitars with Clydie King & Vanetta Fields on Backing Vocals

6. She [writers Gram Parsons and Christ Etheridge/Flying Burrito Brothers cover] - featuring Hugh McCracken and Sal DiTroia on Guitars, Frank Owens on Piano and duet vocals with Patricia Holloway

7. Don't Let It Bring You Down [Neil Young cover] -arranged and conducted by Jimmy Guiffre, Various Brass Players with Bobby Colomby on Drums

8. Once Burned [Todd Rundgren cover] - featuring Mike Deasy & David Cohen on Guitars with Clydie King & Vanetta Fields on Backing Vocals

9. North Beach Racetrack [David Clayton-Thomas song] - features guitars by Steve Cropper, Paul Cannon and David Clayton-Thomas with Jay Spell on Piano and Drums by Richie Simpson

10. Caress Me Pretty Music [Anita O’Day cover] - featuring Paul Griffin on Guitar with Bobby Colomby on Drums

Co-produced by Blood, Sweat & Tears buddies BOBBY COLOMBY and JOEL SILL – the original vinyl LP was released April 1972 on Columbia KC 31000 in the USA and in the UK on CBS Records S 64755 (peaked at No. 184 on the US LP charts - didn't chart in the UK). The card digipak mimics the original gatefold sleeve of the vinyl LP and has an 8-page inlay with liner notes by noted British writer CHRIS WELCH.

Highlights are Edgar Winter's post-Woodstock anti-war anthem "Dying To Live" which is given a powerful rendition with strings that strengthen the melody and message rather than drown it (lyrics above). The "After The Gold Rush" classic of "Don't Let It Bring You Down" by Neil Young is also treated to a strange solitary French Horn opening that really works – it takes a good song and moves it to somewhere different – very cool. But the real peach here is his gorgeous vocal to Gram Parson’s much-covered "She". Clayton-Thomas does it more than justice – he almost makes it his own. 

His lone self-penned contribution about his favourite haunt "North Beach Racetrack" is a 'daddy was a junky' song with a funky-as-f**k guitar romp while he roars a trademark B, S & T mannerism "…tell the truth boy!" It's excellent and features slick guitar work from all three - Paul Cannon, Steve Cropper and Thomas himself.

The sound is superb throughout the entire album - punchy and vibrant (Repertoire has always had a good rep for quality audio transfers). There is hiss on some of the quieter songs like "Once Burned" but it's not too much to detract.

A niggle would be that the writers for "Dying To Live" and "Sing A Song" are wrongly credited in the booklet (their corrected above) - but apart from that – this is a great reissue of a criminally forgotten Seventies gem. 

Clayton-Thomas went on to make two more albums during the period - "Tequila Sunrise" in 1973 and "Harmony Junction" in 1974 and they're available elsewhere.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Blood, Sweat & Tears and anything that sounds like them. Check out CT's funky and righteous cover of Paul Kelly’s "Stealin' In The Name Of The Lord" (it was a minor hit for its originator in 1970 on Happy Tiger Records) or his gorgeous cover of "She". I think you'll be hooked...and telling the truth...

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