Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Horn Rock Heaven Top 20 - #15. 1849 – Lighthouse

Lighthouse clearly lit the way for all Canadian bands in the horn/rock genre. Their output of 10 albums in five years was only half as impressive as the sheer girth of a group that included both a horn and string section along with a rhythm section and a boatload of singers to boot. After three albums of meager success their fourth, One Fine Morning, saw the group earn international success. One of the cuts that fully pronounced their musical abilities was the anthem-esque, 1849.

Most of the songs on One Fine Morning showcase the superb vocals of Bob McBride. On this tune, however, it’s a chorale of voices that tell the tale of wagon trains traversing the 19th century American landscape in search of riches. Even though the track is rich with harmonies from the voices, strings, and horns, it’s the lyrics that stand out as most impressive. The clever lyrical turn from hopeful expectation to reality almost gives you the sense that this group of Canadians singing about American pioneers from years gone by must be somewhat autobiographical. For just as those pioneers discovered the harsh realities of their material pursuits Lighthouse, too, must have experienced the harsh realities of emphasizing the word ‘music’ before the often-succeeding word ‘business’. Nonetheless, the musical achievement found here can stand on its own merits regardless of any harrowing back-story. And a live version from Live at Carnegie Hall the following year only adds to the group’s credibility.