George Starostin's Reviews



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Brian Donovan <> (24.06.2005)

Back in the day, I tended to prefer Chicago over BS&T since Chicago had a dominating guitar player while BS&T emphasized the horns. It's now around 35 years later and I now think BS&T was the better band.

I have the first three BS&T albums, currently. Child Is Father To The Man and Blood Sweat & Tears are both quite good and way better than the third album. I'd give them co-"best" ratings, though they are quite different due to their lead vocals.

The transition between the two is interesting to say the least. Al Kooper wrote good material for the most part and could give you half an album's worth at least, consistently. A fine keyboard player and a good vocalist too.

Problem was, this was a really big band for its time with a big horn section, and the guys other than Kooper wanted a really dominating vocalist. I guess they wanted to keep Kooper too (he could still write songs and be the keyboard man), but not as the front man. That was an offer Al could refuse, and he split.

But I have to hand it to them, for at least one album the change worked. David Clayton-Thomas was the perfect front man for this group, because over all those horns that big bellowing voice of his was the ticket. He clearly gave the group an identity; and it's been his group ever since, even though he left for a while.

Trouble was, they couldn't replace Al's songwriting output, so we got fiascos like "Sympathy/Symphony for the Devil" to try to fill in the gap in material. Then they got those a**holes at Rolling Stone mad at them, and it all fell apart. Too bad.

A jazzer friend of mine pointed out that the horn section in the early days was really special, and their arrangements sound more sophisticated and with more free blowing, than what was coming from Chicago. He said Fred Lipsius was the brains behind much of it.


Anders Nilsson <> (23.11.2001)

Glad to see that you like Child Is Father To The Man, although I like it a lot more than you. For me it's probably a 14 or 15. From what I've heard didn't Al Kooper leave the group, he was sacked. In the liner notes of my CD he writes "it was kinda like the Frankenstein monster strangling the doctor who gave him life". I mostly agree with you on the Kooper songs, they are great. 'The Modern Adventures ...' is a great song, though. It sounds much like the Zombies at the time. Odessey & Oracle was recorded before but not released until after that song was recorded by BS&T, but it would have fit perfectly on Odessey. It's not strange that Al Kooper was the one who got Columbia to release Odessey in the US, and the Zombies have Kooper to thank for their #2 hit "Time Of The Season. Anyway, I think the covers and the Steve Katz song is as good as Kooper's. Tim Buckley's 'Morning Glory' is wonderful, the soloing on Harry Nilsson's 'Without Her' is awesome, 'So Much Love' is a good quality Carole King song and my favourite song is Randy Newman's 'Just One Smile'. And first I didn't like Steve Katz' song 'Meagan's Gypsy Eyes' but now I adore it like everything else on this album and have finally acknowledge that he also possesed some talent, just not as much as Al. And in my opinion Child Is Father To The Man is one of the best albums of the 60's.

BTW I wouldn't call late period Chicago jazz-rock. And the early Chicago records are great especially the first two. In fact, Chicago II might be my favourite album of all-time.

David Dickson <> (20.01.2003)

This is a very good album. Not life-shattering, but very very good. Every song is at least decent, and several ("I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know," "I Can't Quit Her" "So Much Love/Overture") are outstanding. See, I'm a trumpet player, so I'm automatically biased in favor of horn-y bands such as BS'n'T. And it certainly SOUNDS like it fits in with all those '60's golden dozen records; all this psychedelia, jazz, soul, art-rock, and pop all merged together make it sound like one o' them "genre-busting" slabs o'vinyl that critics love to drool over. Plus, it's kind of a concept album! That "Overture" that George dislikes so much is there for a reason: so we can hear it again at the end of the album! Yay!

But dang it all, THIS IS NOT THEIR BEST ALBUM, despite what the critics think and hippie-rockers will tell you. Al Kooper may be hip and non-square and long-haired and all that, but I'll be damned if his album with the band can hold a candle to the one that followed it. Yeah, you heard me: Blood, Sweat, and Tears, the album; not only the best record of this band's career, but one of the best pop LPs ever recorded. Need evidence? SEVEN charted singles, three Top Tens, and what's left of the record is some of the most beautifully arranged. . . aw, hang it all, just buy it and listen to it. Listen to it until it HURTS. Trust me, it's even better than CIFTTM. Heck, while you're at it, buy CIFTTM too!


Joe Lupica <> (16.04.2006)

I had always thought "The Battle" was about Kent State. My 16-year-old daughter has challenged my assumption. I had thought Steve Katz skillfully posed the jarring juxtaposition of a normal college kid who wanted to sleep late against the once normal college kid victims dehumanized by the Guardsmen into "moving targets." And who are the "six white horses" and the five "far behind", anyway? Would you or any of your readers have an opinion on this subject?

btw, you might have been a bit too hard, but only a bit (!) on the "normal" boys for trying to pull off a séance 'n smoke atmosphere they really didn't understand. Another exposure of their lack of context is their pronunciation of "holocaust" when they mysteriously whisper, "Use all your well-earned 'holi-test' (!?!) or I'll lay your soul to waste." Just an observation.

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