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Cold Blood

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Album Review

Sisyphus — Cold Blood's second release for Bill Graham's San Francisco label — was a shift to a more aggressive and decidedly funkier sound. Taking their cues as much from James Brown's J.B.'s as from their Bay Area contemporaries and labelmates Tower of Power, Sisyphus is a much more cohesive and concentrated effort compared to their 1969 eponymous debut. The infusion of strong original material certainly did not hurt either — as five of the disc's six tracks are credited as original band compositions. From the opening edgy/up-tempo instrumental "Shop Talk," the change in Cold Blood's direction is evident. This extended jam showcases the entire ensemble — sans vocalist Lydia Pense — including the band's latest addition, Sandy McKee (drums/percussion). The track also features notable assistance from original Santana bandmember Chepito Areas (congas/timbales). The driving rhythms are punctuated by the three-piece brass section, whose contributions are infinitely less obtrusive, especially during the dramatic segue into "Funky on My Back" — one of Cold Blood's most definitive compositions. Highlighted by Pense's dramatic and sensual vocals, the track recalls the laid-back, soulful style of their first album. Another throwback is the slightly gospel-influenced cover of "Your Good Thing" — originally performed by Stax diva Mable John — which also features background vocals from the Pointer Sisters. The second half of Sisyphus consists of up-tempo groovers "Too Many People," "Understanding," and "I Can't Stay," which is not only the hardest-rocking track on the disc, it also features a lead vocal from percussionist McKee. The song actually comes off sounding like an early Santana cut rather than anything else on the album. This probably has to do more with the frenetically inspired fretwork of Larry Fields than the absence of Pense. In 2001 the Collectables label reissued Sisyphus — along with their first self-titled album — as part of two LPs on one CD set. Although the release is marred by sloppy mastering, it is recommended as the only place to hear much of these albums.

Customer Reviews

Like a hot knife through butter.

Unfortunately, it sounds like they don't have the original tapes but even so this is one fine, funky album. I still remember setting the needle down and that first rim shot of Shop Talk. This is an album that gets down to business, right away. For my money, they could have called this one Thriller.


Voice, piano, guitar, jazz-drum - what more do you need to make a jazz-fusion album great? I had this album in vinyl and this is a sweet way to return to the sounds of a wonderful group and excellent music. If you liked John Coltraine, you will DEFINITELY appreciate COLD BLOOD.

Lydia Pense and Cold Blood "The Black Album"

Why is'nt this album available on cd? This is by far their best work. Song after Song is good. I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know has to be one of their GREATEST Hits ever. Released in 1976, Lydia Pense and Cold Blood offers up some smokers, including: I Get Off On You, It Takes A Lot Of Good Lovin' (Judy Clay) and I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know. If you wanna here a solid sounding band of the 70's with a pint size singer that can belt out the notes! then you have to check this album out. All of their other albums are good also, but the Black album with the blood drop frozen inside of the ice cube is the one for the collection.


Formed: 1968 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s

A San Francisco-based R&B band originally formed by guitarist Larry Field as the "New Invaders" in the wake of the Summer of Love, Cold Blood had the key elements of strong female vocalist, a fine guitarist, and a powerful horn section. After successful gigs at Golden Gate Park and at the Fillmore, they were signed by impresario Bill Graham to his new San Francisco Records label, on which they released their self-titled debut in 1969. Four more albums followed over the next five years —...
Full Bio