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Blood, Sweat & Tears 3
Blood, Sweat & Tears

Columbia 30090
Released: June 1970
Chart Peak: #1
Weeks Charted: 41
Certified Platinum: 7/8/70

Just as the failure of The Child Is Father to the Man brought on the departure of Al Kooper, the success of Blood, Sweat & Tears also brought about changes in the band. And, those changes were reflected on Blood, Sweat & Tears 3.

"Instead of keeping the same spirit we had on the first two albums -- 'Music is not brain surgery and let's have fun' -- we thought everything out to the maximum degree," says drummer Bobby Colomby. Part of the problem was that the group's incredible success had let it to go out on the road to bask in its newfound fame. "We weren't a band that could write arrangements and rehearse on the road," says Colomby. "When all expectations for a third album were highest, we had not even begun to assemble an album. And by the time we did, it was, in a sense, too late."

Blood, Sweat & Tears 3 was released in June 1970, more than 16 months after the release of the band's self-titled breakthrough album. "In 1970, there was a different sentiment," Colomby says. "The public was used to seeing a new album by their favorite artists every eight months."

While BS&T toured and worked on 3, Chicago, another rock group that employed horns, also began to increase in popularity. The two groups were often compared to each other, a pairing that Colomby says was off the mark. "The whole nature of the music was different. We were much more jazz-oriented. They had a lot of lead singers and harmonies. We had one lead singer, David [Clayton Thomas], who had an unmistakable voice."

Yet there was a disadvantage to that voice, Colomby admits. "When you hear that voice, with a horn section, with such repetition on radio, it tends to wear on you." A backlash against BS&T had begun. The group lost favor with the critics, who had initially embraced the group's original Al Kooper-fronted lineup. "The same critic who wrote that 'Spinning Wheel' was 'a pop gem' was now writing it was 'pop drivel,'" Colomby says.

On Blood, Sweat & Tears 3, the group once again kept the song selection diverse with material from Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Steve Winwood, James Taylor, Laura Nyro, and Joe Cocker. There were also some originals, including an ambitious concept piece, "Symphony for the Devil," which was combined with a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil."

"[Keyboardist] Dick Halligan wrote 'Symphony for the Devil,' which was based on the devil's interval. In medieval times priests did not allow any composers to use that particular interval of music, because it sounded way too devilish. He took that concept and wrote an arrangement around 'Sympathy for the Devil.' It was a lofty and ambitious piece of work, but looking back, it was a big mistake. People didn't like the fact we covered 'Sympathy for the Devil,' since it was so elite. They were like, 'How dare you f--- with the Stones?'"

Blood, Sweat & Tears 3 featured two Top 30 hits -- "Hi-De-Ho" and "Lucretia Mac Evil" -- and the album hit Number One in its forth week on the chart. Yet it was evident that the group's better days had already passed.

- Craig Rosen, The Billboard Book of Number One Albums, 1996.

Bonus Reviews!

Chalk up another big album for one of today's most popular groups, Top 40 and underground. The material is good and varied ranging from the extended "Symphony for the Devil/Sympathy for the Devil" to "Somethin' Cumin' On," which has the group's hit style. In addition to David Clayton Thomas on vocals, other members of this talented nine-man group are featured with large chorus helping in "Hi Di Ho."

- Billboard, 1970.

Just figured out how David Clayton-Thomas learned vocal projection: by belching. That's why when he gets really excited he sounds as if he's about to throw up. But it's only part of the reason he gets me so excited I feel like I'm about to throw up. The whole band commits "Symphony for the Devil," a pretty good rock and roll song revealed as a pseudohistorical middlebrow muddle when suite-ened. And just who added themes by Bartok, Prokofiev, Thelonius, and Fred Lewis (Fred Lewis?) to a Stevie Winwood tune? C-

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

Blood, Sweat & Tears had a hard act to follow in recording their third album. Nevertheless, BS&T constructed a convincing, if not quite as impressive, companion to their previous hit. David Clayton-Thomas remained an enthusiastic blues shouter, and the band still managed to put together lively arrangements, especially on the Top 40 hits "Hi-De-Ho" and "Lucretia Mac Evil." Elsewhere, they recreated the previous album's jazzing up of Laura Nyro ("He's A Runner") and Traffic ("40,000 Headmen"), although their pretentiousness, on the extended "Symphony/Sympathy For The Devil," and their tendency to borrow other artists' better-known material (James Taylor's "Fire And Rain") rather than generating more of their own, were warning signs for the future. In the meantime, BS&T 3 was another chart-topping gold hit. * * *

- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Things get a little bit out there on Blood, Sweat & Tears 3, especially on the ill-advised "Symphony for the Devil/Sympathy for the Devil" suite. Mick Jagger at least got a good laugh out of it. * *

- Gary Graff, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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