The other day I was driving, listening to the radio, and heard Chicago’s Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? It’s a great song and it got me to thinking: Where have all the horn bands gone? That is, why aren’t rock bands that feature trumpets, and slide trombones, and saxophones popular any more?
There was a time in the late ’60s and early ’70s when horn bands dominated the airwaves. On the FM rock stations, you had bands like Chicago and Tower of Power. On the AM dial, you had acts like Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and Blood, Sweat and Tears. There also were many songs where horns were prominently featured, like All You Need Is Love and Penny Lane by the Beatles and Pink Floyd’s Us and Them.
I liked the horn bands because they had a different sound. It was a bit crisper, a bit cleaner, and a bit brighter than the sound produced by the standard four-man band with two guitars, bass, and drums. It was a great change of pace, and now that sound seems to be totally gone from popular music. Why?