Grammy Award-winning musician, singer and songwriter David Clayton-Thomas released his brand new album, MOBIUS, this summer month, and the video for Back To The 60’s !
The songs were written by David Clayton-Thomas in collaboration with four musicians:
George Koller – Bassist & co-producer; multiple national jazz award winner. George’s inventive bass playing is the bedrock of the album.
Eric St-Laurent – Explosive Montreal Guitarist; his playing has the dexterity of Di Meola and the raw power of Hendrix.
Larnell Lewis – Grammy Award Winning Drummer; funky, original, a powerful musical presence.
Lou Pomanti – Superb Keyboard Player and Arranger; Lou toured the world with BS&T in the ’80’s. He is uniquely tuned into David’s musical style.
MOBIUS is an innovative recording, pushing the boundaries of convention. Edgy and progressive but still earthy with deep jazz roots. This album is full of surprises and songs that will stick in your head forever. With two tracks – Back To The 60s and Carnival – already on the radio, he’s generating excitement for this release like never before.
David Clayton-Thomas and Blood Sweat & Tears – two names that will always be in a musical marriage. A group that were trailblazers in the sixties, with their combination of rock and jazz arrangements that went on to sell almost six million records in three years. The first album has sold over 10 million records worldwide.
But there is so much more to the name, the man and the music of David Clayton-Thomas.
The passion about his singing and his own journey are still a major part of his personality, and he talks about how and where he came from and where he is right now in his career.
The son of a Canadian soldier and an English music student who became a War Bride, Clayton-Thomas was born in England and moved with his family to the Toronto suburb of Willowdale when he was four years old. A troubled relationship with his abusive father led him to run away at age 15. He spent his teen years living on the street and in various reformatories, eventually doing time as a serial offender for vagrancy, petty theft and street fighting.
Singing in his cell earned him fans among his fellow inmates and, after teaching himself to play an abandoned guitar, he was soon performing jailhouse concerts. He was released in 1962 and began performing as Sonny Thomas (later David Clayton-Thomas) on Toronto’s Yonge Street strip, where he developed a reputation as a tough, brawling blues singer. John Lee Hooker became his idol and Ronnie Hawkins his mentor. The music of jazz greats Lenny Breau, Oscar Peterson and Moe Koffman was equally influential.
“Those were hard times for me growing up. I now look back and realize that my Dad was a statistic of WW11, so many men came back damaged and ended up being broken and turning abusive. Unfortunately, I was in that situation, being a bit of a target for that anger, which made me leave on live on the streets. My Mum was wonderful and I am grateful for the musical influences she also gave me growing up. She was always singing and there was always a piano in our house.”
David Clayton-Thomas’s first band, David Clayton-Thomas and The Fabulous Shays (later The Shays), was an R&B outfit that had hits in 1964 with “Out of the Sunshine” and “Walk That Walk,” a rendition of Hooker’s “Boom Boom.” They opened for the Rolling Stones at Maple Leaf Gardens and played the NBC-TV variety program “Hullabaloo” (1965) at the invitation of host Paul Anka.
After The Shays broke up, Thomas played solo in Toronto’s Yorkville coffeehouses and sat in with his hero, Hooker, at the Riverboat. He then joined the Bossmen, which featured the prodigious jazz pianist Tony Collacott. The Bossmen was one of the first rock bands to incorporate jazz elements, and had a Top 20 Canadian hit in the summer of 1966 with the fiercely political, anti-Vietnam War song “Brainwashed.”
After the Bossmen broke up, he formed the David Clayton-Thomas Combine with former Bossmen guitarist Jack Mowbray. They released two singles through Arc Records, one of which had the original version of Clayton-Thomas’s “Spinning Wheel” as a B-side. He was then invited to New York by Hooker and spent two years playing clubs in Greenwich Village before being deported for having a criminal record and working illegally in the US.
In 1968, Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer Bobby Colomby, who had met Clayton-Thomas in New York through folk singer Judy Collins, asked Clayton-Thomas to be the band’s new lead singer. The group’s first album with Thomas, Blood, Sweat & Tears (1968), earned wide critical acclaim and sold one million copies in the US within three months of its release. The singles “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” “And When I Die” and “Spinning Wheel” all hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The band headlined Woodstock; and the album, which won three Grammy Awards including Album of the Year (beating out the Beatles’ Abbey Road), spent 109 weeks on the Billboard top album chart (including 13 weeks at No. 1) and sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.
In 1970, Blood, Sweat & Tears became the first rock band to break through the Iron Curtain and perform in Eastern Europe, which they did at the request of the US State Department in exchange for a permanent residency visa for Clayton-Thomas. They also toured throughout North America, played regular stints in Las Vegas and contributed music to the soundtrack of the Barbara Streisand movie The Owl and the Pussycat (1970).
The cover-song heavy Blood, Sweat & Tears 3 was released in late 1970. Though not as well received as its predecessor, it topped the Billboard album chart and was certified gold in the US on the strength of the Top 40 US singles “Hi-De-Ho” and Clayton-Thomas’s “Lucretia MacEvil.” Blood, Sweat & Tears 4 (1971) also went gold and broke the Top 10 of the Billboard album charts.
For decades, David Clayton-Thomas has continued to record and perform, and received many awards throughout his career:
Album of the Year (Blood, Sweat and Tears), Grammy Awards (1970)
Outstanding Contribution to the Canadian Music Scene, Juno Awards (1973)
Inductee, Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1996)
Hall of Fame Award (Blood, Sweat & Tears), Grammy Awards (2002)
Inductee, Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (2007)
Inductee, Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame (2008)
Inductee, Canada’s Walk of Fame (2010)
David’s latest offering, ‘Mobius’ is truly his best solo album to date, daring to have a diversified line-up of both musicians and songs, that truly shows how talented he really is and his voice is actually better than ever, with more timbre and feeling than he had when he was younger.
“I wanted Mobius to be exactly what the word means. A one-sided surface, rotating and joining itself to the first end. A never-ending cycle, which is how I feel about my musical career. My last album had covers, this one is all originals, which was a songwriting collaboration of four extraordinary musicians; George Koller, Bassist & Co-Producer, Eric St-Laurent, Guitar, Larnell Lewis on Drums and Lou Pomanti on Keyboards and Arrangements.”
The first release from the album is a sensual offering called ‘Carnival’, a colorful dance/romance video that is a wonderful watch. This song captures the wonderful dance and feel of the ‘Carnivale’ experience. “We wanted the video to reflect the energy and the magic of Carnivale time. I love the fact we managed to capture that feeling.”
“A personal favorite of mine is ‘Back to the 60’s’, with lyrics crying out to you to remember the era that wanted peace (and love) and how strong the movement that ‘Woodstock’ was when we thought we could change the world and have peace forever. A message that is still sadly relevant today.”
Other tracks ‘Long Night’, ‘Frost on the Pumpkin’, ‘The Mornin’ News’,’All I Am’, ‘The Truth’, ‘Where Did They Go’,’It’s All About the Money’ and ‘Passin’ Thru’ are so diversified that DCT takes you from Chuck Berry styles to Chuck Mangione arrangements. All with that distinct David Clayton- Thomas voice that can manage all those genres with ease.
This is an innovative recording, pushing the boundaries of convention. Edgy and progressive but still earthy with deep jazz roots. This album is full of surprises and songs that will stick in your head forever. MOBIUS is a daring musical statement – beautifully produced and skillfully performed by a team of fiercely creative musicians. It raises the bar on contemporary music.
When asked how it was recording such a different type of song offering DCT said, “I am really proud of this record. Working with the team of like-minded and world traveled talent to collaborate on this has been a remarkable journey. Wherever it goes from here, I am good with that having just had the extraordinary experience of doing Mobius.”
The legendary David Clayton-Thomas is at the top of his game right now, and with that unmistakable voice, whether he is giving a throaty vocal or a soulful ballad, he owns every song on this new album.
We would like to thank Eric Alper for the artist profile and the press release.