Blood, Sweat & Tears leader still has the chops

David Clayton THomas

I’ll confess, I didn’t know David Clayton Thomas was still with us. Not only is he still with us, he’s still creating great music and with his latest CD, Say Something’, encouraging his listeners to become involved.

In case, the name sounds familiar but you can’t quite place it — David was the leader of one of the great bands from the late 1960s and 1970s, Blood, Sweat & Tears.

His 1968 debut album with Blood Sweat & Tears sold 10 million copies worldwide.

The self-titled record topped the Billboard album chart for seven weeks, and charted for a staggering 109 weeks. It won an unprecedented five Grammy awards, including Album of the Year and Best Performance by a Male Vocalist. It featured three hit singles, “You Made Me So Very Happy,” “And When I Die” and “Spinning Wheel,” as well as an irresistible rendition of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” that became a signature song for David.

A 1969 summary in the Los Angeles Times proclaimed that “Blood Sweat & Tears just may be the most important pop music group of the decade.”

If that’s not enough, Clive Davis, then president of Columbia Records, described his initial impression of hearing David Clayton-Thomas at New York’s Café Au Go Go: “He was staggering… a powerfully built singer who exuded an enormous earthy confidence. He jumped right out at you. I went with a small group of people, and we were electrified. He seemed so genuine, so in command of the lyric… a perfect combination of fire and emotion to go with the band’s somewhat cerebral appeal. I knew he would be a strong, strong figure.”

David still has that “strongness” on this latest project. I will forewarn my right leaning friends, David is left leaning with cries about gun violence “Never Again,” about the youth justice system “The System,” and the political state of our country with “The Circus.”

Many don’t know, by the time Clayton-Thomas was fourteen, he had left home and was sleeping in parked cars and abandoned buildings and stealing food and clothing to survive. He was arrested several times for vagrancy, petty theft, and street brawls and spent his teen years bouncing in and out of various jails and reformatories, including the Burwash Industrial Farm.

All of that and more shines through on Say Sometin.’

Since 2004, David Clayton has toured and recorded almost a dozen albums under his own name.

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