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In the late-’60s/early-’70s, a decade and a half after horn sections had been banished from the musical lineup, there was a minitrend of bands adding brass. This produced a series of one-hit wonders, with the notable exceptions of Blood Sweat & Tears and Chicago. The former was made up of jazzmen playing at rock and, except for singer David Clayton Thomas’ oldies-circuit act, the original members have returned to jazz. Chicago, on the other hand, debuted with genuine, hard-backbeat, uptempo rockers featuring horn charts that seemed more rock-inspired than jazz-oriented. But the fresh start soon deteriorated into pop pap so irritating that former lead singer Peter Cetera can duet straight-faced with Amy Grant. Even before guitarist Terry Kath’s suicide, the horns had been relegated deep into the background. Though it might be due to licensing, or just to punish the band for “Saturday in the Park,” there is no Chicago on this disc, which assembles a fair number of obscurities not often found on other collections or heard on the radio, including such rarities as Cold Blood’s sultry version of “You’ve Got Me Hummin’” and the breezy “One Fine Morning” by Canada’s Lighthouse. Chase is even more obscure, due to the premature death of leader and trumpeter Bill Chase. He was a Vegas/big band sideman who let his sideburns grow and had one hit in 1971 with the roaring “Get It On.” The Sons of Champlin produced a tour de force 14-minute-plus rock suite, “Freedom.” This being a K-Tel product, however, we get their less-inspired “Welcome to the Dance.” BS&T is represented by its first hit, “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” (I would have chosen “Spinning Wheel”). “Vehicle” by the Ides of March is definitive in both one-hit and horn-rock categories, but has never been given full credit for influencing a generation of sports-TV background music—not to mention the theme still being used by CBC radio’s As It Happens. The Edgar Winter Group wasn’t exactly horn-rock, but on “Keep Playing That Rock ‘n’ Roll,” the brass and guitar duel equally for supremacy. The Electric Flag was a sadly short-lived semi-supergroup. Its “Killing Floor” opens with the then-novel technique of sampling an audio snippet—ironically taking LBJ out of context. Why is Elvin Bishop included with a limp “Rock My Soul,” but not the British group If with the sweeping “Your City Is Falling”? The supertight “What Is Hip?” by Tower of Power is here, but not the equally funky “Pick Up the Pieces” by the Average White Band. The heft that horn sections add can also prove unwieldy. Thus, there were no punk horn groups. While hardly an exhaustive survey, these tracks do prove that a mass of brass can propel a song just as powerfully as an overamplified guitar. And if you want to listen to an entire album by Chase, If, or Lighthouse, I’ve got ’em.

—Dave Nuttycombe