Coven – Blood On the Snow (1974/2024) [Official Digital Download 24bit/192kHz]

Coven – Blood On the Snow (1974/2024)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 36:11 minutes | 1,17 GB | Genre: Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Buddah

We caused a stir of supernatural proportions last year when we reissued Coven’s debut album Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls, complete with naked victim centerfold and instructions for a black mass. And Blood on the Snow, which features a violin-playing devil on the cover and images of a strange occult ritual on the peat fold, promises more of the same. But in the safe hands of the Who producer Shel Talmy, this release on the Buddah label from 1974 presents a much milder, even, dare we say, benevolent version of the band that launched the entire genre of satanic rock. Part of this was undoubtedly due to the fact that at the beginning of the decade Coven had received a foretaste of the success of the mass charts with her version of “One Tin Soldier”, which was featured in the Billy Jack movie. And while the true infidel and lead singer Jinx Dawson – one of the unfairly neglected singers of their era – is still around, guitarist Christopher Neilsen brings a lighter songwriting touch to the material, former guitarist Jim Donlinger has gone to extend his interest in the macabre with the band H.P. Lovecraft That doesn’t mean that Blood on the Snow is a pop record; “Don’t Call Me” sounds almost like Raw Power Stooges, their cover of Alan O’ Day’s “Easy Evil” is the hardest ever recorded, and the title song just burns. But only “Blue, Blue Ships” with its melancholic attitude to mortality would qualify as a song about the occult, and numbers like “This Song’s for All You Children” and “Lady-O” would not be out of place on a Fleetwood Mac or Jefferson Starship album, partly thanks to Talmy’s orchestral production. In short, this was a band that was far more talented and versatile than Buddah knew how to handle; therefore, this was the last Coven album to appear for 40 years. But there is a hotly pursued; and for his first LP reissue, we pressed a white and red “Blood on the Snow” vinyl edition, limited to 1200 copies, which is housed in a gatefold jacket with an inner sleeve with lyrics.

Who producer Shel Talmy crafts the smoothest sound yet for Coven, and this is the style that really could have brought the band over the top, but it’s too much too late. “This Song’s for All You Children” shimmers with fabulous production and an exquisite Jinx Dawson vocal, even better than on her Dennis Lambert/Brian Potter co-write hit from two years prior to this, “One Tin Soldier.” Sidney A. Seidenberg, longtime manager of B.B. King, was representing the group at this time, with vocalist Dawson and guitarist Christopher Neilsen having a better handle on the songwriting, a big step forward from 1972’s self-titled Coven release on MGM. Heck, they even sound like Spanky & Our Gang on the sublime “Lady O,” and that is a quantum leap from the witchcraft and magic eventual Lovecraft member Jim Donlinger brought to their first release in 1969 with his labored songwriting. Indeed, Donlinger left for a band with an even more mystical name, that of fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft, while under Talmy’s guiding hand strings and orchestration bring the group to a poppy space that suits it very well. The album cover looks like it came out of Creepy or Eerie magazines and there are the obligatory Halloween costume photographs in the gatefold, but songs like “Blue Blue Ships” and “I Need a Hundred of You” don’t sound like the comic book episodes from the band’s past. One has to read the lyric sheet to see that “Blue Blue Ships” is actually a haunting song sung as if Dawson had already passed over. It has ten times the composing skills that Neilsen and Dawson displayed on the previous album’s “Shooting Star,” the material maturing along with Coven’s musicianship. “I Need a Hundred of You” is fun, singer Dawson and guitarist Neilsen collaborating on a song that in future days would be thought of as a song about cloning. It’s a shame Buddah dropped the ball on Coven and artists like Buzzy Linhart, who they recorded and marketed but couldn’t break on the level of Gladys Knight and some of their higher-profile groups. The version of Alan O’Day’s “Easy Evil,” covered by Lulu, Genya Ravan, Dusty Springfield, and so many others, really fits. Alan Estes, a Tammy Wynette co-writer and percussion player on many recordings, guests on conga drums, helping give this up-tempo version a uniquely fun perspective. Dawson sounds like she’s having a blast, interpreting O’Day’s nugget with more drive than the group’s take on Leiber & Stoller’s “Jailhouse Rock” from the previous self-titled outing. Blood on the Snow is an album that, if not a financial success, proves that Coven had more talent than the band was ever given credit for, the title track being the one where the group really cuts loose and goes back to its roots with some blazing hard rock. Though it doesn’t contain Coven’s hit single, this is the band’s key recording. – Joe Viglione

Tracklist:
1-1. Coven – Don’t Call Me (03:47)
1-2. Coven – This Song’s for All You Children (03:02)
1-3. Coven – Lady-O (03:40)
1-4. Coven – Blue, Blue Ships (05:15)
1-5. Coven – I Need a Hundred of You (03:39)
1-6. Coven – Hide Your Daughters (05:12)
1-7. Coven – Lost Without a Trace (05:58)
1-8. Coven – Easy Evil (03:32)
1-9. Coven – Blood On the Snow (02:02)

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