18. Sons Of Champlin: Get High
Sons of Champlin formed in 1966, and released their debut album Sons, in 1969; it dented the charts at #171. Their biggest, and most notorious album was their sophomore album, also from 1969 Loosen Up Naturally, which peaked at #137; unfortunately its cover was marred by a hidden obscenity in the artwork (the original artwork was defaced, apparantly without the band realizing it) that resulted in a recall, killing any chance it had to be a hit. Essentially, the band was a funky r&b influenced outfit that used a horn section in the manner of Electric Flag, Blood Sweat and Tears, and Chicago. "Get High" is the best moment from Loosen Up Naturally, the horns escape their charts and get semi-improvisatory; lending a pleasantly discordant sound to an instrumental bridge; a funky vibraphone also gets a solo in the middle. At their best, Sons of Champlin were a complex band that suggest Moby Grape with horns; at their slickest, they almost had a hit in 1976 with the disco/funk "Hold On" which peaked at #49. The band broke up after a 1977 album failed to go anywhere; leader Bill Champlin joined Chicago in 1981, and remains there to this day.
19. Tower Of Power: Sparkling In the Sand
Tower of Power actually hailed from Oakland, a very important distinction in the Bay area; Oakland is the working-class side of the Bay. Still, they belong on this list not only because they were Fillmore regulars in the early 70's, but also shared with Sons of Champlin and Electric Flag the idea of a rock/soul/r&b group with horns. They didn't hit their stride until 1972-73, after most of the other bands on this list were gone, although they made their debut in 1970 with East Bay Grease, from which "Sparkling In The Sand", the nine minute album closer is taken. The group would get much tighter and funky in their prime, although the shaggy, formative qualities of "Sparkling In The Sand" lend the album a slightly homely quality that makes it sound at home with some of the other bands. In later years, members of Tower of Power, and the entire horn section itself became very in demand as session players; Tower of Power releases albums under its own name to this day.
20. Country Joe & The Fish: Section 43
Country Joe & The Fish are best remembered for their anti-Vietnam War "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag", a ragtime-esque novelty protest song that appears in Woodstock. This has pigeonholed them as a novelty act in the eyes of many, but in fact Country Joe & The Fish were a good psychedelic band, capable of electric freakout and improvisation. Country Joe McDonald was raised by lefty parents and played the folk circuit in the early 60's, specializing in topical folk classics by The Weavers and Woodie Guthrie. Country Joe & The Fish formed in 1965 from an aggregation called the Instant Action Jug band. Their debut album, Electric Music For Mind and Body, released in January 1967, is an early psychedelic classic, eclectic and varied, that resembles Jefferson Airplane to a considerable degree in places. "Section 43" opens as a crisp-sounding raga rock with organ and acid rock guitar, before taking the listener through 4 distinct phases of eerie, freaky, and baroque psychedelia. Country Joe went solo in 1969 and has maintained a fairly regular schedule of releases ever since.