San Francisco funk ensemble Cold Blood were contemporaries of Bay Area greats Tower of Power and supposedly got their first break from Janis Joplin. Driven by the powerful vocals of Lydia Pense, the band unleashed a number of classic early-’70s records, including 1973′s monster Thriller (a decade earlier than Mr. Jackson!), which includes this epic version of Bill Wither’s “Kissing My Love”.
We dropped this jam at a dance party a while back, and people actually danced to it! I know, right? To a song they didn’t even know! Part of its power lies in its slight reconfiguring of James Gadson’s original beat, laying harder into it and stripping it of the original’s slight swing (a Gadson hallmark). Pense unleashes a fury on top of it, turning Withers’ head-nodding groove into a fiery, apocalyptic jam, complete with the band’s trademark killer horns (they shared and traded some members with Tower of Power).
The band still plays around to this day, led by the indefatigable Ms. Pense. I hear she’s still got it!
Here’s the fantastic Withers original.
And here’s another Cold Blood classic, “Down to the Bone”.