Lydia Pense & Cold Blood Transfusion

Way back before white people dared be hip, Cold Blood combined rock, R&B, funk, a dash of psychedelia and — together with one fireball of a female vocalist — turned the San Francisco area on its ear. Oakland’s Tower of Power — formed in ’67 — had set the stage and with the help of Bill Graham, Cold Blood prepared to sweep it and make it their own. It was, sadly, not to be. Lydia Pense was the focus and her soulful, high-torque vocals drew competitive ire from no less than Janis Joplin (especially after their cover of "Piece of My Heart”). The band remained in the shadows and expired in the late ’70s — that is until now. Transfusion shows post child-rearing Pense in wickedly fine form, reunited with current and former members of the ever-changing band as well as members of Tower of Power and Santana. Pense’s legendary delivery has softened slightly but this release — the first new material in 30 years — is a good barometer of what the band were all about in their heyday. If you’re a fan of fiery female vocals, guitar-driven, horn-backed funk rock then this release arrives in the nick of time. Just try to keep from grinning at the opening groove of "Face the Music” through a dirty dozen tracks of soulful funk that remains loyal to their short-lived legacy without aging a day. Welcome back, Lydia! (Thisish)