Given the outsized press they tended to get, you can be forgiven for thinking that Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears were the only horn-driven rock or jazz/blues rock of the Sixties and Seventies. But no, there were a few more and they were pretty damn good. The challenge, I think, with horn bands is how to make it sound good without drowning you in brass or veering over into marching band territory. Here’s a few that pulled it off.
Chase was founded in 1970 by namesake Bill Chase* and three other trumpeters. In 1971 they released their eponymously-titled debut album. That album had a pretty big hit called “Get it On.” (It also had a great song called “Handbags and Gladrags” that Rod Stewart also covered.) But for me, the great tune on this one is the opener, the aptly titled, “Open Up Wide” with its crazy opening horn flourish:
Genya Ravan’s (born Genyusha Zelkovicz) family immigrated to the US in 1947, she, her parents and sister being the only family survivors of the Holocaust. In the early Sixties, named Goldie by her mother, she fronted a band called Goldie and the Gingerbreads. Contrary to popular belief, Fanny were not the first all-girl band signed to a major label, the Gingerbreads were.
But Goldie – somewhere in there acquiring the stage name Genya – became more well-known as the lead singer of a band called Ten Wheel Drive. The band did a couple of albums in the late Sixties/early Seventies and were probably best known for a tune called “Morning Much Better,” an ode to just-woke-up sex.
I find that one kind of dated now but I really like this tune, “Tightrope.” Joplin-esque. (Couldn’t find this tune on Spotify but you can find other Genya stuff up there.)
Tower of Power (pictured at top of post) are from Oakland, California and have been around in one form or another since 1968. You can be forgiven for thinking that these guys are a backup band for other artists. That is because, yes, in addition to their own albums they have backed up a veritable who’s who of music-dom. A partial list would include Otis Redding, Aerosmith, Elton John, Little Feat, Santana, Rod Stewart, Helen Reddy.
I always dug the song “You’re Still a Young Man,” a shot of Philly soul by guys from the Left Coast:
Wikipedia: The Electric Flag was an American blues rock soul group, led by guitarist Mike Bloomfield, keyboardist Barry Goldberg, and drummer Buddy Miles, and featuring other musicians such as vocalist Nick Gravenites and bassist Harvey Brooks. Bloomfield formed the Electric Flag in 1967, following his stint with the Butterfield Blues Band.
We saw some adventures of Bloomfield in my post on Al Kooper and Buddy Miles, of course, went on to play with Hendrix in Band of Gypsys. Here’s the Howlin’ Wolf tune “Killing Floor:”
But there must have been another band besides Ten Wheel Drive fronted by a lusty, powerful female singer you say. The combination is so great. And so, the band Cold Blood (still) fronted by Lydia Pense. Also formed in 1968, also from the West Coast (San Francisco, proving it wasn’t all Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane).
Here’s Lydia to remind you of the following news – “I’m A Good Woman.” That’s all a man can ask, baby.
Last but not least is a band from the Great White North, specifically Toronto, Ontario. Formed in 1968 (!) rumor has it they’re still kicking it. The band originally had 13 members and made their performing debut in 1969 introduced by some dude named Duke Ellington.
Of all the performers on this page, these guys arguably had the biggest hit with the 1970 song, “One Fine Morning.” The song cooks along nicely and ends with a superfast guitar solo from (I think) Ralph Cole.
*Chase and three other members of his band were killed in a plane crash in 1974.