Blue Plate Special
Suzy Got Her Big Hair On
Drown in My Own Tears
Hoochie Coochie Man
Woman Across The River
The Danger Zone
We Were The Children
Wish the World Would Come To Memphis
David Clayton-Thomas - Lead vocals, Guitar
Doug Riley - Keyboards
Matt King - Keyboards
Glan McClelland - Keyboards
Larry DeBari- Guitars
Andy Aledort - Guitars
Rob Paparozzi - Harp
Mike DuClos - Bass
Jonathan Peretz - Drums
Mark Quinones - Percission
Steve Guttman - Trumpet
Craig Johnson - Trumpet
Charlie Gordon - Trombone
Dave Reikenberg - Tenor Sax
The Following was on the Jam! Webpage
The Return of David Clayton-Thomas
By Karen Bliss--Jam! Music
Blood, Sweat, and Tears
frontman David Clayton-Thomas recorded his first solo album in a dozen
years in just four days. Blue Plate Special, a true blues album,
began as a late-night jam session at his friend, saxman Ornette Coleman's
new recording studio in Harlem, NY, which was designed by one of Clayton-Thomas's
touring engineers. "Ornette was in Europe and gave us the keys to
the studio, give it a test drive, see how it works," relates Clayton-Thomas,
the Candian singer behind such classics as You've Made Me So very Happy
and Spinning Wheel.
"So I went in with some of the guy
sfrom the Blood, Sweat, and Tears rhythm section with no plans on making
an album. And what happens when a bunch of musicians get together
to jam? You play some blues."
He forgot about the session for a month,
then the engineer called to say COleman had heard the tapes and loved them.
"It was a little jam at night, how good can it be?" questioned Clayton-Thomas.
With a little prodding, he decided to finish
it off the following week. He assembled some musicians, among them
Toronto's Doug Riley, an old friend who had been urgin Clayton-Thomas to
do a blues album for 20 years.
"Most of the stuff was cut live, very few
overdubs. All of the vocals were done live, many of them first-takes,"
says Clayton-Thomas. "It was a very spontanous album."
In fact, there was no preparation in terms
the track listing, which includes Albert Collins's Too Many Dirty Dishes,
Ray Charles' Hard Times, Willie Dixons Hoochie Coochie Man,
plus five Clayton-Thomas originals.
"One of the best tunes on the album, Wish
The World Would Come To Memphis, was written on the session," says
Clayton-Thomas. "Doug was literally writing down piano licks on the
back of his cigarette pack and I was in the control room scribbling down
lyrics as we played."
It's been a productive recording year for
Clayton-Thomas, who has a writing studio at home in the Catskills, but
spends 150 nights a year touring with the latest Blood, Sweat, and Tears
incarnation, performing with symphony orchestras, ast jazz festivals, casino
showrooms, and theaters.
"There's been a real flurry of recording
activity going on in the last year, where there hasn't really been in the
last 10 years," says Clayton-Thomas.
He is currently mixing Blood, Sweat &
Tears On Tour, a live in concert album recorded last year in Scandinavia
and due early in '98. In February, he'll be recording an alumnus
album, tentaively titled Bloodlines, with the current Blood, Sweat, and
Tears line-up plus many of the musicians who have served in the band over
While Blue Plate Special is available
on Stony Plain, Clayton-Thomas will sell the Blood, Sweat, and Tears On
Tour album primarily in the Internet.
"Why should I go to a record company who's
going to give me 12-cents for an album when I can press it up myself, sell
it myself in the Internet, sell it in concert, and make $18?" he says.
This is from the liner notes to Blue Plate Special:
Everyone knows the voice
of David Clayton-Thomas, the unique instrument that propelled all those
amazing Blood, Sweat, and Tears hits. It's a voice that's soaked
in the blues--which is why it's amazing that it's taken so long for him
to emerge with a full-scale, full-tilt get-down blues album.
Better a little late than never,
that's for sure. This is not a BS&T album in the mold of those
hit-filled multi-million selling records--although it must be said taht
nayone who loves that classic music will be just as comfortable with the
The reason, of course,
is that David has always been singing the blues, this music has always
been the touchstone that has influenced every vocal he's ever poured into
a microphone, from the days of club gigs on Toronto's tough Yonge Street
strip to international smash hits like "Spinning Wheel."
You have to go back to his early
teens--Toronto, mid 50's--to understand this continuing, ongoing story.
Boy, was this guy ever a rough diamond in his early days--a street kid,
a brawler, and, eventually, a boy in a reformator with every chance that
he'd "graduate" to a full-time life on the wrong side of the law.
By the time he was 21, though, he'd figured out that playing the guitar
and singing in a band offered a far more promising path.
By 1967, he had cetainly figured
out how the blues needed to be sung, he learned sitting knee-to-knee with
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Lightnin' Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Will
DIxon, and John Lee Hooker. And it was JOhn lee who asked David to
come to New York; when he arrived, he had a single afternoon to rehearse
a band to cover a one-night club gig in Greenwich Village. Thus began
an international career that continues to this day.
The story of Blood, Sweat, and
Tears' success is still the stuff of music business legend. Introduced
to bandleader Bobby Colomby by folk singer Judy COllins, David joined what
was, in fact, a rapidly disintergrating situation. The first BS&T
album had been released, most of the players weren't talking to each other,
and several members--including singer Al Kooper--had quit. With the
new singer on board, the band's second album sold 10 million copies, had
three stone smash singles ("You've Made Me So Very Happy," "And When I
Die," and "Spinning Wheel.") and won an unprecedented five Grammy awards.
The Clayton-Thomas version of Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child" became
a classic, five more succesive gold albums hit the charts, hit followed
hit, ("Lucretia MacEvil, "Hi De HO," and "Go Down Gamblin'"), and the band
juggled a fierce perfomance schedule, playing the Metropolitan Opera, the
FIllmores, Carnegie Hall, the Newport Jazz Festival, The Hollywood Bowl,
Woodstock... David was fronting the band that was, without question, the
hottest ticket in AMerica. If there was any band that played "American
Music," it was BS&T, armed with the strains of the blues, the instrumental
wizardry of jazz, and the sheer power of rocka nd roll.
Blood, Sweat, and Tears is very
much a going concern. The band performs with North America's most
prestigous symphony orchestras, headlines major jazz festivals around the
world, and sold-out audiences pack the group's concerts. BS&T
still takes American music--which inevitably includes the blues--everywhere
Which brings us to Blue Plate
Special--a whole album of blues-drenched material. It was somethign
David always wanted to do, and the songs he chose will resonate with a
new generation of blues fans as well as the people who remember the BS&T
This album actually began as
a late-night jam session at Ornette Coleman's studio in Harlem and the
first runthoughs sounded so good that david called up an old friend and
collaborator from Toronto, Doug Riley, who is probably one of the best
Hammond B2 players on the planet.
The repertoire came from David's
own musical heroes--men like Albert Collins, Ray Charles, Willie Dixon,
and Freddie King provided downhome blues; Henry Glover and Percy Mayfield
(two of the best songwriters in the history of Black American music) are
also represented here. And david himself provided four of his own
tunes, including a revised version of "Lucretia MacEvil," and a new song,
"Wish the World Would Come To Memphis," that deserves to become a classic.
The Clayton-Thomas voice is
as rich and powerful as it ever was; the musicians (many from the current
edition of BS&T) are as tough and direct and on the case as are the
songs themselves. This is no period piece, no exercise in nostalgia.
This is one tasy exploration of the blue colors of American music palette.
And it would be hard to imagine
any other pop music singer in the last 40 years who could deliver these
songs with the authority, passion and power that David Clayton-Thomas brings
to a very special blues session.
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