Monday, March 20, 2023

What the Hell Happened To Blood Sweat AndTears (2023)


This is the story of the group Blood Sweat and Tears (BS&T) and their State Department sponsored trip behind the Iron Curtain to Yugoslavia, Romania and Poland.

BS&T was originally formed by Al Kooper who wanted to bring horns fully into rock music.  While the first album was a critical success it didn’t sell and Kooper left the group and was replace by David Clayton Thomas whose personality and vocals made the band one of the biggest in the world. As part of Nixon’s efforts to cool the Cold War the band was sent to Eastern Europe to play music. The tour would be filmed and released as a documentary.  The tour did not go as expected with walk out in Yugoslavia and the police turning dogs on the crazed audience in Romania.

BS&T changed rock as we know it as they made the use of horns and other instruments part of the rock band for more than just a song. You could play rock and have big band arrangements.

This is a crazy tale  about a moment in time for one of rock’s most influential bands. It’s a look at what happened and how the trip ended up changing their trajectory (some people called them sell outs). It’s a tale with unexpected twists and turns that don’t end until the final fade out.

While I enjoyed the hell out of the film, I think the material could be better organized. For example we are 40 minutes into the film before we get a history of the band. AndI know it’s a nine piece band, but we never get any sense of the members as people at all. The film also doesn’t say much about the group beyond the end of the trip and the “collapse” of the full documentary.

Quibbles aside this is a hell of a story and if you love classic rock or history this film is a must see.

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