Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cold Blood - 1969 - Cold Blood

Cold Blood
Cold Blood

01. I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free 5:58
02. If You Will 5:35
03. You Got Me Hummin 5:47
04. I Just Want To Make Love To You 5:13
05. I'm A Good Woman 3:00
06. Let Me Down Easy 5:35
07. Watch Your Step 5:27

*Lydia Pense - Vocals
*Larry Field - Lead Guitar
*Danny Hull - Tenor Saxophone
*Larry Jonutz - Trumpet
*Raul Matute - Hammond Organ, Piano
*Jerry Jonutz - Baritone, Alto, Tenor Saxophone
*David Padron - Trumpet
*Rod Ellicott - Bass
*Frank Davis - Drums

In the heady days of the '60s pop music explosion in the San Francisco Bay area numerous bands formed, played a few dates and then their members dispersed to more successful groups. One example of that was the New Invaders, who had success in the Bay Area. But a re-formed group, Cold Blood, scored a national hit single and six of their albums made the Billboard charts.

The band was an artful blend of rock elements with soulful horns and a powerful vocalist, a bit like Tower Of Power, another successful Frisco band. Cold Blood sported the singing prowess of Lydia Pense, whose strong stage presence and bluesy voice generated comparisons to Janis Joplin.

Pense even held her own on a version of "Piece Of My Heart," one of Joplin's signature songs. Pense was accompanied in the band by original members Raul Matute (piano and organ), Rod Ellicott (bass) and Danny Hull (sax). A number of other players came and went,  including Jerry (also cited as "Larry" in some sources) Jonutz (trumpet or sax), David Padron (trumpet), Larry Field (guitar) and Gaylord Birch (drums).

The band often played the Fillmore, a hugely popular and influential San Francisco theater owned by Bill Graham. In the fall of 1968, Graham opened his own Millard booking agency.  In early '69, he established a holding company, the Fillmore Corp., which included divisions dealing with management, lighting and soundtracks.  He also started Fillmore and San Francisco Records. Cold Blood signed to San Francisco, which issued their debut self-titled album in late 1969.

It was produced by David Rubinson, who worked with most of the artists in the Graham fold.  He also oversaw albums by everybody from the Chambers Brothers and LaBelle  to Moby Grape and the Pointer Sisters as well as numerous Santana releases. "Cold Blood" was a mix of originals and covers, including a take of "You Got Me Hummin' ", a 1966 soul smash for Sam & Dave written by Memphis stars Isaac Hayes and David Porter. Issued as a single in late 1969, it charted in early 70.

The success of "Hummin"' and substantial airplay for a follow-up, "I'm A Good Woman," placed the album into the Billboard Top 30, where it enjoyed a 29-week run. Their next album - which is also included in this collection - was issued in early 1971. "Sisyphus" was produced by Fred Catero and the band.  Catero had been the engineer on their first release and would go on to work with Santana and other Frisco artists.

There were other local artists who played on "Sisyphus," including the Pointer Sisters, who sang on "Your Good Thing," and Jose "Chepito" Areas, a member of Santana's band  who played congas and timbales on "Funky On My Back" and "Shop Talk." "Sisyphus" was another success, moving onto the Billboard chart for more than three months.

A single, "Too Many People," also generated a lot of airplay. Then came problems with Graham's business ventures and, in 1971,  he announced plans to close the labels and the Fillmore in San Francisco along with the Fillmore East in New York City. Always a colorful and creative businessman, Graham documented the years of the Fillmore with the three-album "Fillmore: The Last Days," drawn from a series of live concerts at the San Francisco venue.

One of the featured bands on the best-selling set was Cold Blood, which tore through the blues standard "I Just Want To Make Love To You," one of the highlights of their first album.

While Rubinson moved on to open a state-of-theart studio in San Francisco and Graham continued to produce concerts and tours by acts such as the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan,  Cold Blood wasn't about to give up because their label had called it quits. Signing with the Reprise division of Warner Bros., they issued the "First Taste Of Sin" album in the spring of 1972.

It sold well and was followed a year later by "Thriller!," also on Reprise. In 1974, the band moved to Warner Bros, for "Lydia," which acknowledged the focus on their lead singer.  In 1976, signed to ABC Records, they worked with Memphis producer Steve Cropper (guitarist for Booker T. and the M.G.s) on "Lydia Pense & Cold Blood?'

By the late 70s, Pense and the members of Cold Blood disbanded. She spent time raising a family while the rest of the members turned to other projects. One, drummer Gaylord Birch, worked with Santana on the album "Festival" and joined the guitarist on "The Healer," his 1989 project with John Lee Hooker.

In 1998 Cold Blood briefly re-formed for some dates and there was even talk of a new album, but nothing was out by the end of the decade.

1st recording of this 8 men band consisting of guitar, bass and drums (Larry Field, Rod Ellicott and Frank J.Davis), organ and piano (Raul Matute who’s also the author of the only track by a band member in the album) plus two sax (Jerry Jonutz and Danny Hull) and two trumpet players (David Padron and Larry Jonutz); a couple of additional trumpets beef up the horn section on some tracks; these are very capable musicians that mostly work for the song and to highlight female singer Lydia Pense’s role - a powerful vocalist with a strong presence, who when on bluesy, raspy and even shouting mode is akin to Joplin- apparently they were often billed as LP + Cold Blood and later she recorded under her name;
They gravitate between lively Black Soul tracks, with Motown inspired bass lines (pulsating and restless e.g. on track3),lush washes of organ, steady snare driven beats and efficient, omnipresent horns arrangements and licks, with some guitar or sax soloing on the more up tempo tracks (“I’m a good woman” – my introduction to CB on a 1970 Atlantic sampler- and “Watch your Step”) and lazier, more or less laid back or straighter Blues tracks ( the Matute’s penned “If you Will”, ”I just want to make love..” or “Let me down Easy”) where LP voice is really at home, the powerful horns and saxes reminiscent of the same year released Janis “Kozmic Blues”, and with space for jazzy sax solos like on the swinging and inspired version of Willie Dixon’s “I Just want to…”; A final word for both the keyboards and the bass outstanding jobs, a driving force that highly contribute for the dynamic of the album;

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