Cold Blood featured the powerful, bluesy voice of the delectable Lydia Pense. This was the age of the large brass rock band, and Cold Blood was right up there with Chicago, Aura, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Lighthouse, Chase and Tower of Power. Cold Blood were a popular live attraction at Billy Graham's Fillmore's East and West, and they were signed to and recorded two albums for Graham's San Francisco (part ofA tlantic) label, this debut and the excellent "Sisyphus" before moving on to Reprise Records. Booker T and the MG's' guitarist Steve Cropper is getting some serious punting this week - not only was he a member of Booker T's band, but he also featured with Cold Blood on their "Lydia'' album in 1974 and was also involved in production. A fifth album, "Lydia Pense and Cold Blood" was released on the now defunct ABC record label in 1976 and the band subsequently folded. Three of the band's six albums, plus a compilation album, are available on CD, and really are worthwhile checking out. Rumour has it that Cold Blood, or rather Lydia Pense, is still around and performing in the US today, although, as far as we know, no new recordings have surfaced from this awesome lady singer and her band.

Cold Blood 
Cold Blood - No Way Home, from "First Taste of Sin" in 1972, their 3rd album. San Francisco based Cold Blood were formed in 1968 and featured the powerful, bluesy voice of the beautiful Lydia Pense. The o riginal members were Danny Hull on saxes, Larry Field on guitar, brothers Larry and Jerry Jonutz on trumpet and sax respectively, bassist Paul Ellicot, keyboard player Raul Matute, Frank J. David on drums and Dave Padron on trumpet. Their self-titled debut album, released in 1969 on impresario Bill Graham's "San Francisco" label, was a stunning mix of brass-tinged blues and rock, with P ense's voice the stand-out factor. Make no mistake, even though Lydia Pense wasn't as well known as people like Janis Joplin, Joan Baez and others, she was in every way equal, if not better, than most female vocalists doing the rounds in those days. A further album for the label, ''Sisyphus", featuring new members Sandy McKee on drums and Mic Gillette (Tower of Power,) on trombone, trumpet and flugel horn, was released in 1972. The band then moved to Warner Reprise Records later that year, and this, our featured album, was their first album for the label. The band, in the meantime, had u ndergone further line-up changes, with the likes of Bill Atwood and Max Haskett joining on trumpets, Mike Sasaki on guitar and Mel Martin on sax. In keeping with the tried and tested Cold Blood tradition, this album was as good as the first two. "Thriller" and "Lydia" were the next two albums, the f ormer containing stunning covers of Stevie Wonder's "You are the Sunshine of my Life", Boz Scaggs' "I'll be Long Gone" and Bill Withers' "Kissing my Love". The band's final album, "Lydia Pense and Cold Blood", released on ABC Records in 1976, saw the band move in a more disco/dance direction, although still retaining the killer brass section and the unbelievable vocals of one of the most dynamic female singers in rock. 
 

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Biography by Paul Collins
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 — in fact, later efforts boasted the production and musical contributions of Steve Cropper — but all were hamstrung by Graham's underhanded distribution deals with Columbia and Atlantic.

Though the debut's single "You've Got Me Humming" crawled up to number 52 on the American charts, Cold Blood seemed doomed to labor in the shadow of bands like Tower of Power, Chicago, and especially Janis Joplin. The latter comparison became endemic among critics; for although blues belter joined Field's band as its youngest member — she had formerly been, of all things, a childhood national rollerskating champion — her magnetic stage presence established her as the band's central force. Eventually, the band billed itself as Lydia Pense With Cold Blood, and even released an album simply titled Lydia. Joplin sensed a kindred soul; after screaming at Cold Blood for scooping her on a blistering cover of "Piece of My Heart," she warmed to Pense enough to give her a swig of Southern Comfort.

After hitting increasingly lower tier venues in San Francisco by the late '70s, Cold Blood disbanded for most of the next decade; Pense focused her energies on child rearing. By the late '80s, the band slowly awoke from its long sleep, and they began regular features on California's festival and fair circuit. A 1998 return to their Fillmore stomping ground brought out the band's faithful. 

 

Larry Fields

The Pointer Sisters
Canned Heat
The Blues Project
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Janis Joplin
Blue Cheer
Tower of Power
Sweetwater
The Average White Band

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Cold Blood - 1969 - Cold Blood - 4/5

Cold Blood - 1970 - Sisyphus - 4/5

Cold Blood - 1972 - First Taste of Sin - 3/5

Cold Blood - 1973 - Thriller - 3.5/5

Cold Blood - 1974 - Lydia - 2/5

Cold Blood - 1976 - Lydia Pense & Cold Blood - 2.5/5

Cold Blood - 2001 - Vintage Blood, Live 1973 - 3/5

Cold Blood - 2005 - Transfusion - 4/5

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