Sometimes, a greatest-hits set is timed perfectly to gather together a group's most successful and familiar performances just at the point when that group has passed the point of their maximum exposure to the public, but before the public memory has had a chance to fade. That was the case when Columbia Records assembled this compilation for release in early 1972. At that point, Blood, Sweat & Tears had released four albums and scored six Top 40 hits, each of which is heard here. But lead singer David Clayton-Thomas had just quit the group, so that the unit that recorded songs like "You've Made Me So Very Happy" was not working together anymore. And even when Clayton-Thomas returned, the band would continue to decline commercially. As such, BS&T's Greatest Hits captures the band's peak in 11 selections–seven singles chart entries, plus two album tracks from the celebrated debut album when Al Kooper helmed the group, and two more from the Grammy-winning multi-platinum second album.
This CD, in places, just cranks it up and spits out a wall of undiluted rock and roll. Straight ahead full speed ahead and tell everything to get out of our way. "Gypsy Blood," and "Dancin' on Top of the World," are two cuts that really stand out in this vein. A couple of the tracks just seem to be languishing in a daze as if they've suffered a concussion, and can't decide which way to go. This CD is produced by Dave Edmunds, and I like a lot of his work because when it hits, it hits hard. However, when it misses it leaves you scratching your head wondering. The band is tight, just sometimes lacking that guiding hand. The hard-charging "Courage" alone makes this a worthwhile disc, and there is more than just that track to pick the listener up. (Bob Gottlieb, AMG)