Horn Rock and Funky Guitar Grooves 1968-1974.

Label: BGP.

Nowadays,  music historians regard 1968 as the year that American rock returned to its soulful roots. The man responsible, was one of the true legends of music, Bob Dylan, who joined forces with The Band, and they went in search of a chimerical America, and  what they believed was its musical sound. The result was the classic album Big Pink.   

Meanwhile, other bands went in search of a  quintessentially American sound which fused elements of jazz, R&B and soul. For many of these bands, they were going back to basics and the music that inspired them to become musicians in the first place. 

This was the case form New Jersey to San Francisco, and way on down to Memphis and New Orleans,  as rock evolved and was reinvented by the bands on Horn Rock and Funky Guitar Grooves 1968-1974, which has just been released by BGP, an imprint of Ace Records. The singles they released and even some albums were played by DJs in clubs and enticed even the most reluctant dancer on the floor. 

This music was very different from the lysergic sound of psychedelia which was still growing in popularity amongst the counter culture on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite its popularly,  the new and emerging sound found a following amongst  DJs who 

eschewed psychedelia and started spinning these danceable rock tracks. For the first time in years, it was possible to dance to rock music. 

Between 1968 and 1974, this new sound was championed by Blood, Sweat and Tears, Al Kooper,  The Sons,  The Electric Flag,  Tower Of Power, Cold Blood, Donnie Brooks, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chase, Hammer and Black Magic.  They all feature on Horn Rock and Funky Guitar Grooves 1968-1974. It features seventeen tracks that are a reminder of a sometimes oft-overlooked period in American music. 

That was apart from hip hop artists, who unable to play an instrument and believing a key opened a door, looked to singles and albums released during this period for “inspiration.” Many of these tracks were oft-sampled by these musical robber barons who were lacking original thought.  The only good thing was that on hearing the samples, many record buyers went in search of the original track.

Sadly, up until now, nobody has thought to curate a compilation from the period when American rock returned to its soulful roots. That has all changed with the recent release of Horn Rock and Funky Guitar Grooves 1968-1974.

Horn Rock and Funky Guitar Grooves 1968-1974  opens with Buddy’s Advice from Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s 1969 album Keep On Movin’, which was released by Elektra. The album was unlike anything the Paul Butterfield Blues Band had released before and wrong footed critics. They weren’t expected what was a carefully crafted fusion of blues, rock and soul.

The same year, 1969, Al Kooper released the album I Stand Alone, which fettered Isaac Hayes and David Porter’s Toe Hold. It epitomises the horn rock sound, which essentially refers to the jazz style of big band arranged rock which is associated with bands like Blood, Sweat and Tears which Al Kooper founded. Funky with a soulful  vocal and stabs of horns punctuating the arrangement, it’s a captivating and truly memorable cover of Toe Hold.

Delaney and Bonnie’s It’s Been A Long Time Coming from their 1968 debut album Delaney and Bonnie and Friends which was released on Stax.  This soulful and heartfelt rendition of this anthemic track features Booker T and The MGs, The Memphis Horns, Leon Russell and William Bell and could only have been recorded in Memphis and released on Stax and epitomises everything that is good about horn rock. 

The LP verse  of Lighthouse’s One Fine Morning, which is the title-track from their 1971 album is a welcome addition. Not content to fuse jazz and soul, they incorporated elements of classical music  in a track that reached the top thirty in the US Billboard 100 and number two in  Canada which was home to Lighthouse, who made their breakthrough with their fourth album One Fine Morning.

By he time Blood, Sweat and Tears rebased their 1973 album, which featured horn rock classic Roller Coaster, the band’s lineup was unrecognisable. Only Bobby Colomby remained from the group that was formed six years earlier in 1967. Despite the changes, Roller Coaster is without doubt, one of Blood, Sweat and Tears’ finest hours. 

Of all the horn rock groups, Tower Of Power is one of the best know. Their contribution is Clever Girl from their 1973 album Tower Of Power. It’s a languid, jazz-tinged track with Lenny Williams vocal playing a starring role on one of the highlights of Tower Of Power’s breakthrough album.

 Tuane by New York-based Hammer is a track from their 1970 eponymous album. However, despite eschewing horns, Hammer were able to produce a memorable funk rock track.

Tobias Wood Henderson 1971 album Blue Stone was recorded in New Orleans and featured some of the Big Easy’s top musicians, including the late, great Dr John. One of the highlights Of Blue Stone was Gypsy Boy II, which a glorious fusion of blues, rock and soul as horns help power the track along. 

The Electric Flag became the vehicle for Mike Bloomfield after he departed the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.  He was joined by a talented group of musicians who showcase their talents on the 1974 album The Band Kept Playing. It features Make Your Move where everything from big band, blues to gospel and the Memphis soul of Stax. The result is a delicious musical stew. Aunt Marie – American Sound Ltd

Closing Horn Rock and Funky Guitar Grooves 1968-1974 is Aunt Marie by American Sound Ltd which was released in 1968. Sadly, this funk rock rarity wasn’t a commercial success, but nowadays, is prized by funk collectors.

For anyone who loves the sound of horns in a rock record, then Horn Rock and Funky Guitar Grooves 1968-1974 is a must have. The seventeen tracks features a mixture of familiar faces and well known names on a collection that oozes quality. Horn Rock and Funky Guitar Grooves 1968-1974 features tracks are danceable and memorable and are a reminder of a period when American rock music was reinventing itself as it returned to its soulful roots. 

Horn Rock and Funky Guitar Grooves 1968-1974.

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