Thursday, June 21, 2012

Don't Be Afraid. Horn Bands Are Your Friends

David Clayton-Thomas ruined it for a lot of us; an irritating front man if there ever was one. The difference between the Al Kooper led Blood, Sweat & Tears and the Clayton-Thomas horn band with such cringeworthy tunes like "Spinning Wheel" and "Lucretia MacEvil" is akin to the difference between shooting a bullet or throwing one, as that expression goes.

AM radio took all credibility away from the Chicago Transit Authority whose first two albums are as good as any classic rock albums get. The band managed to put out legitimate records right up until Chicago VIII, but will only be remembered for bad wedding first dance "Colour My World" and marriage on the rocks anthem, "If You Leave Me Now."

Horn bands get a bad rap.

Do you know the Sons Of Champlin? I hadn't before my friend and drummer for The Planets, Bobby Siems claimed their debut "Loosen Up Naturally" as one of his favorites of all-time.

San Francisco-based, the SOC combine the loose jammy feel of the Allman Brothers, a bit of 60s sunshine pop thanks to their fab harmonies, and of course, lots of horns. Bill Champlain later went on to join a later, faux-version of Chicago, but long before that career move, he created one of the great lost records of the late 60s.

The opener, and a killer opener at that, "1982-A" is below.  I love most of the record, "Rooftop" and "Get High" especially.  Track this one down.


buzzbabyjesus said...

Not too long ago my comment would have been arguing that horn bands suck. Trumpet was my first instrument. After High School I gave it up because there was no longer a guy with a baton telling me which page to turn to, and because I thought horns ruined rock music. I bought a guitar and shoved the horn under the bed where it stayed for for three decades.
Recently I've been playing trumpet and trombone, and as a result listening to a lot of horn centric music, starting with Miles Davis.
Everybody knows "Bitches Brew", but I think that "In A Silent Way" is a better listening experience.
And of course there is always "Kind Of Blue", which just might be the best chill-out album of all time.
Anyway, Sal, you're right, "Horn Bands Are Your Friends". Nothing like the sound of all that air moving through plumbing.
I'm digging TSOC. Thanks.

Jaggerfan1 said...

Wait a sec-- Spinning Wheel is done by Blood, Sweat and Tears? It's been driving me crazy trying to figure out who on Earth sang it. I always thought it was Jethro Tull

Unknown said...

That said, Tower of Power must die.

M. Carroll said...

The first time I smoked pot was at an outdoor Sons show in Tucson in 1973, right after they'd put out my favorite of their albums, "Welcome to the Dance." The Sons were a great live band.

James A. Gardner said...

Another nice track off that album is (the dated but charming) "Things Are Getting Better." I also recommend their 1966 debut (if I IIRC on both counts), FAT CITY, esp. the title track.
Have I bent your ear about Giant Crab? Possibly not classified as a horn band, certainly could be, and one of the great lost treasures of the 60s.

steve simels said...

Sal -- your friend from The Planets.

Was that the Binky Phillips The Planets who made a splash in NYC in the early 70s Mercer Arts Center days? The baby Who The Planets?

Because if they are, let's talk.

steve simels said...

Also my early 70s really bad bar band had a horn section.

Seriously -- they used to show up late, in the third set of the night, and come on stage with their instruments and do all the horn band moves from soul bands.

They didn't play a note, they just did the horn band moves for an entire set.

I absolutely adored it...

Anonymous said...

Seconding Gardner's comment about "Fat City," which I'm listening to now on spotify. Alas, "Loosen Up Naturally" is not available. Intriguingly, has more of an organ. Horns not much in evidence except some sax.

Bruce H.

James A. Gardner said...

Say what you will about Tower of Power (and I say I mostly dig 'em), they've already been to Hell. Google "The Gotham City Crime Fighters."