Many of the greatest groups in rock and roll history have made their home in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area. While 'Frisco was at the forefront of the psychedelic music movement spinning around the intersection of Haight and Ashbury, some ' serious funk was springing up as well. Free-form DJs like Tom Donahue, who coined the term ; "underground" radio and Abe "Voco" Kesh interspersed hip soul and jazz in between the ^extended jams of the Dead and Quicksilver in their nightly shows.
Sylvester Stewart, aka Sly Stone, was also a noted Bay Area DJ and record producer and an influence on the scene. Latin music was always in the air as well, and bands like Santana, Tower of Power, and Malo vibed to the incantory force of the extended boogaloo. Many of the greatest groups in rock and roll history have made their home in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area.While 'Frisco was at the forefront of the psychedelic music movement spinning around the intersection of Haight and Ashbury, some ' serious funk was springing up as well.
Free-form DJs like Tom Donahue, who coined the term ; "underground" radio and Abe "Voco" Kesh interspersed hip soul and jazz in between the ^extended jams of the Dead and Quicksilver in their nightly shows.Sylvester Stewart, aka Sly Stone, was also a noted Bay Area DJ and record producer and an influence on the scene.Latin music was always in the air as well, and bands like Santana,
Tower of Power, and Malo vibed to the incantory force of the extended boogaloo. One of the best bands in combining the punch of great rhythm and blues with the hippie aesthetic of brotherhood and freedom was Bay Area's legendary Cold Blood.With the backing of pioneer rock impresario Bill Graham, they won over area audiences almost immediately after their formation in 1968.
The Fillmore Auditorium was the epicenter of San Francisco rock, and no better place to see a band "let it all hang out," as many shows ran all night long.The band's first two albums on Bill Graham's San Francisco Records — Cold Blood, released in 1969 and produced by David Rubinson, and Sisyphus, a 1970 release produced by Santana engineer Fred Catero, are excellent representations of a powerhouse band that could really move an audience.
They were a winning combination of good songs, excellent covers and the powerful, expressive voice of Lydia Pense, their extraordinarily beautiful lead singer. A change in management and a move to Reprise Records in 1972 would see the release of their third album First Taste Of Sin.The twenty-something members of Cold Blood had quite a few years of touring and recording under their belts by now, and while their records did not have the massive commercial success of some of their peers, they still had many fans around the country.
There were some personnel changes in the group at this time most notably the departure of founding member guitarist, Larry Field.Lydia Pense, their lead singer was still fronting the band. While she had the burden of being compared to Janis Joplin, the preeminent female white soul singer of her day, Lydia's individual style and beauty was continuing to blossom.Another evidence of maturation in the abilities of the group was their choice of budding soul genius Donny Hathaway as producer for First Taste Of Sin.Despite his relative youth, this Chicago-born singer and a songwriter had already received kudos for his work with Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Butler and The Impressions.
His reputation in the industry as the next generation's leading soul music auteur was spreading throughout the music industry.Warner Bros, and its sister label Reprise were a stronghold in the Seventies for the production of records of high artistic integrity, that were also a gas to listen to. The combo of Hathaway and Cold Blood produced a sophisticated blend of R & B and rock that appealed to both soul and progressive crowds.Hathaway contributed two excellent songs to the album, the slow blues You Had To Know, a showcase for singer Lydia, and Valdez In The Country, as well as his gospelinfluenced piano and jazzy organ playing.
The presence also of Bay Area session veterans Coke and Pete Escovedo on congas, timbales,and percussion generated fire in the rhythm section with their Third World poly-rhythms. Also beefing up the horn section is noted jazz tenor saxophonist Pete Christieb.A longtime member of Doc Severensen's Tonight Show Band, he was an in-demand session player.A rare cover version of fellow Warner- Reprise artist James Taylor's Low And Behold is an adventurous choice of song, and Cold Blood adapts the tune to their rough and ready rockin' soul style.Cold Blood recorded three more albums in their life span before disbanding in 1976. Thriller was released in 1973 and Lydia in 1974, both also for Warner-Reprise.
Their swansong was Lydia Pense and Cold Blood, produced by Stax Records stalwart and respected guitarist/songwriter Steve Cropper for ABC Records.There have been continued rumblings of activity in the Cold Blood camps , so the book may not yet be closed on the contributions of this relatively unheralded group to rock's legacy. Here then is one of Cold Blood's finest endeavors ‘First Taste Of Sin’.
by Al Fichera
1. Visions (Donny Baldwin, Boroquez) - 3:23
2. Lo And Behold (James Taylor) - 4:12
3. Down To The Bone (Danny Hull, Cecil Stoltie) - 5:45
4. You Had To Know (Donny Hathaway) - 5:50
5. My Lady Woman (Danny Hull, Cecil Stoltie) - 4:04
6. No Way Home (Danny Hull, Cecil Stoltie) - 3:25
7. Inside Your Soul (Max Haskett) - 3:28
8. All My Honey (Danny Hull, Cecil Stoltie) - 3:31
9. Valdez In The Country (Donny Hathaway) - 3:44
The Cold Blood
*Lydia Pense - Vocals
*Michael Sasaki - Guitar
*Danny Hull - Tenor Saxophone
*Bill Atwood - Trumpet
*Raul Matute - Hammond Organ, Piano,
*Mel Martin - Baritone, Tenor Saxophone, Flute
*Max Haskett - Trumpet, Vocals
*Rod Ellicott - Bass
*Sandy McKee - Drums, Vocals
*Donny Hatthaway - Piano, Organ
*Coke Escovedo - Timbales, Percussions
*Pete Escovedo - Congas
*Pat O'Hara - Trombone
*Gordon Messick - Trombone
*Bill Baker - Alto, Baritone Sax
*Peter Christlieb - Tenor Sax
*Ernest Diridoni - Tuba
*Paul Beaver - Moog
1969-70 Cold Blood - Cold Blood / Sisyphus