Return with us know to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when there was a sound in the air(waves) still referred to as "soul" or "rhythm & blues (R&B)." The sound was in part the result of a balance between gutsy, gritty spontaneity and commercial calculation, between gospel-derived fervor and greasy desires of the flesh, between Saturday night and Sunday morning, between what you said and how you said it. Tower of Power, Sly & The Family Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire (once upon a time) and The New Birth were among the bands that, yea, drank from the fountain of James Brown and The JB's and grew from it, that exemplified this sound. The San Francisco Bay Area band Cold Blood was another.
Cold Blood was one of those bands that was always on the verge of Making It Big, and their medium-sized hit with "You Got Me Hummin’" was about as close as they got. They had a powerful
lead singer in Lydia Pense, who bore a slight resemblance vocally to Janis Joplin (but I think she sounds more like a raspier, randier Bonnie Raitt). This platter here, originally issued in 1972, features a fine mélange of sounds: greasy, strutting, demonstratively soulful R&B (w/ plenty of Top/Sly-styled funk), brassy jazz (horn players include Mel Martin and Pete Christlieb), a dash of West Coast Latin courtesy of Pete & Coke Escovedo, rock and the right touch of studio sophistication, supplied by producer Donny Hathaway, who also contributed two songs. Some younger listeners (say, those born after 1968) might find this stuff to be a little corny ‘n’ dated - truth be told, some of it IS a tad corny & dated, in the same way most blaxploitation films and 70s funk-fusion albums are. But if one can get past that, there’s some passionate
, in-your-face strutting, Janis J/Lady Aretha-inspired singing by Ms. Pense and a dynamic, committed band behind her (as opposed to these-days’ wad of digital sampling and programming). Note to Soul fans and you 70s fetishists: this is the real deal, like they don’t hardly make ‘em anymore.