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Horn - On The People's Side CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.79 | 5 ratings

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Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Proving no more immune to the old `one-and-done' prog-related album curse that befell so many groups, obscure rock band Horn, hailing from Toronto, Canada delivered a sole album in 1972, `On the People's Side', and a bit of a lost gem it quickly proves to be. Eclectic was the word here, as the seven-piece band offered everything from lengthy Canterbury-flavoured jazzy musings, protest songs with gentle acid-rock qualities, lightly country influenced rockers with male and female vocals singing in unison, loopy Gong, Zappa and Cos-like improvisations, Zeuhl intensity and even a sly sense of humour!

A dozen direction changes are sprinkled throughout the Canterbury-tinged diverse four-part opener `Things in Themselves', the band throwing in everything from playful Hammond runs, twisting little jazzy-fusion guitar licks and quirky vocal arrangements with runaway electric piano and brief trumpet bursts all in under four minutes. The first hint of humour shows up in the (unsurprisingly) protest-lyric themed and titled `Free All my Brothers and Sisters', a fairly throwaway rocker that at least has the hilarious and proud gall to include the repeated lyric 'We ain't gonna change things with our thumbs up our bums"! Droning Trumpet, dreamy chimes and lethargic acoustic guitar drift through the softly psychedelic `Roach' with fleeting little up-tempo dashes, and the slightly mad two- part `Vibrations' offers plenty of Gong-like vibraphone alongside zany vocal ticks, creeping bass and a range of unpredictable twists and turns.

The second side opens with the standout of the disc, the near ten-minute 6-part instrumental suite `Pony Buns'. It opens with easy-going breezy vocal sighs over glistening electric piano before moving into nightmarish jagged free-form Zeuhl/fusion ruminations with slinking bass, skittering drums, wounded trumpet and electric guitar splinters until an abrupt and unappreciated complete fade-out. Thankfully the group return with more Gong-like madness and end on a few pleasing softly grooving vocal fusion passages. `Working Together' initially opens as another `come together' male/female-voiced rocker, but the second half diverts again into a dramatic mix of dreamy electric piano-flecked jazz-fusion with Zeuhl-like piano and murky bass touches! The title- track closes the album, and despite being one of the more straight-forward moments on the LP, it's an exquisite and sophisticated piano-led ballad with a contemplative and subtle lead vocal.

Plenty of rare and mostly unknown prog-related albums are seeing reissues these days, and while many turn out to be disappointing or forgettable, lost to the ages with good reason, some are precious obscurities in desperate need of fresh exposure and reappraisal. Horn and their debut album are just that, and while the schizophrenic style changes may prove to be annoying to some listeners, it's really just a case of a band throwing everything they had into a colourful and energetic album, displaying fierce musical talent and imaginative improvisational skills. `On the People's Side' deserves a belated rediscovery, and jazz/fusion/rock fans should especially be impressed by this little beauty.

Three and a half stars, rounded up to four.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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