MoFi UltraDisc One-Step Edition: Blood, Sweat & Tears by Blood, Sweat & Tears Review

Posted on 28th April, 2021

MoFi UltraDisc One-Step Edition: Blood, Sweat & Tears by Blood, Sweat & Tears Review

David Price auditions a lavish limited edition audiophile boxed set of a nineteen sixties pop classic…

Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs

Blood, Sweat & Tears by Blood, Sweat & Tears

£185

The nineteen sixties was a remarkable time for popular music – and as it began to give birth to the genre of rock, it sucked in a huge array of different styles from R&B to jazz and folk. New York-based Blood, Sweat and Tears epitomised this musical diversity, fusing different genres to brew up a sound that was a fascinating portent of progressive rock, which was just around the corner.

This – the band's second album – was an unintentionally transitional one, as its charismatic co-founder Al Kooper had just quit a few months earlier. Yet surprisingly, perhaps he wasn't missed, and instead, the new line-up forged ahead with a range of catchy and well-crafted tunes that run the gamut of musical styles. From the classical-influenced opener – a variation on a theme in Eric Satie's Trois Gymnopedies – to the instantly recognisable and annoyingly catchy Spinning Wheel, the band's eponymous second album is a real class act.

Released on 11th December 1968, it was once of the most technologically advanced recordings of its time. Just over a year after The Beatles released their magnum opus Sgt. Pepper's – a four-track recording done at London's Abbey Road – Blood, Sweat & Tears was a sixteen-track affair done at CBS Studios in New York. It was produced by James William Guercio, who was also working with another new band of US jazz-rockers called Chicago at the time. It still sounds remarkably fresh even now, with sensitive arrangements for tracks like the hit single You've Made Me So Very Happy. This was significantly helped by the band's excellent musicianship and the strong vocals of singer David Clayton-Thomas.

Despite getting mixed reviews – Rolling Stone was very sniffy about it – people-power proved the critics wrong, and the album went on to become a quadruple-platinum album, going to the top of the US album charts for seven weeks, spawning three hit singles and winning a Grammy for Album of the Year. It also earned the band a headlining slot at Woodstock, too. This soft and slightly jazzy sounding record has a sophisticated and relaxing feel, something that's all the more apparent on this MoFi SuperVinyl pressing.

Limited to 6,000 numbered copies, this Mobile Fidelity UltraDisc One-Step 180g 45RPM 2LP edition is about as lavish as it's possible to get. The excellent quality of the original recording shines out, and you can almost feel that (then) state-of-the-art Ampex MM-1000 sixteen-track tape recorder whirring away. This MoFi pressing embeds vast amounts of information into the groove whilst sounding creamy-smooth. The bass power and stereo soundstaging have to be heard to be believed.

The packaging of this double-disc LP set is beyond criticism; it's so well done that you struggle to imagine how it could be bettered. Indeed, some will find it over the top – such is its obsessive attention to detail – but those special thick jackets and superlative quality inner sleeves will delight record collectors. Such is the rising stock of these MoFi releases that, despite its sky-high £185 price tag, you'll probably never be able to buy one this cheap again. Many think they're over-priced – and they're certainly over the top – but the fact that they always sell out is all you need to know.

This is a great way to hear one of the band's earliest line-ups. Trumpeters and flugelhornists Lew Soloff and Chuck Winfield lend this recording a distinctly late sixties feel reminiscent of The Box Tops and The Association. As does the great playing of drummer Bobby Colomby, organist Dick Halligan, guitarist Steve Katz, alto saxophonist Fred Lipsius and trombonist Jerry Hyman. Here they all are on this new audiophile release, sounding fresher than you could imagine. Who says that vinyl is dead?

Visit Mobile Fidelity for more information

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David Price

David started his career in 1993 writing for Hi-Fi World and went on to edit the magazine for nearly a decade. He was then made Editor of Hi-Fi Choice and continued to freelance for it and Hi-Fi News until becoming StereoNET’s Editor-in-Chief.

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Posted in: Music Media Music Applause Awards 2021
Tags: mobile fidelity  the vinyl adventure 

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