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Chicago - The Chicago Transit Authority CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.08 | 224 ratings

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4 stars Chicago Transit Authority - Chicago Transit Authority (3.43 stars) Original Release: April 28, 1969


Introduction (4 stars) Chicago introduces themselves lyrically and musically with a stately groove. Switching tempo and melody and with trumpet and guitar solos this song is a wonderful sampler of the then new awesom Chicago sound.

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? (4 stars) Starts with free form piano solo which turns with horns into a catchy swing time melody. Like "A Day In the Life" by The Beatles and "Lunch Break: Peak Hour" by The Moody Blues the lyrics question the values behind the struggles of everyday life but here with, perhaps, a stronger dose of 60s protest perspective. This pop tune is but one example of the many great pop tunes that Chicago would make with the sound captured previously by The Beatles "Got To Get You Into My Life".

Beginnings (5 stars) Strumming guitar sets the pace and anticipation seems ever present until this song resolves into its long, glorious progressive jam. Horn solos, percussion gradually added, then the chorus:

It's only the beginning Of what I want to feel forever

The song dissolves into a percussion after party...awesome! One of the best celebratory songs ever made. For me this song is symbolic of the development of progressive rock at the time out of the great changes that pop and rock were going through which are, in turn, symbolized to a great extent by The Beatles (whose song "In The End" from the same year compliments this Chicago tune in my mind even as it signals the end of their influence as a band on the same music scene).

Questions 67 and 68 (4 stars) A fanfare openning with the guitar climbing up and around the horns. Another great stately groove with the piano marking time. A great horn section solo through the middle of this song. The whole song seems like a kind of prose poetry love song.

Listen (4 stars) Long, long guitar note starts this one. Then the funky bass line, hard rocking guitar and more great horns.

Poem 58 (3 stars) Oddly shaped song starts with a guitar strumming to set the pace. Then an extende guitar solo which is melodic enough to keep my interest. I find long improvisation jams to loose musical value to my ear over time, but this song narrowly escapes that. Also, this may be due to the fact that the song changes gears half way through into a sassy guitar with horns thing. A song that first seems like it will be a pure instrumental finds some vocals. Overall this is some kind of awkward but interesting guitar poem.

Free Form Guitar (2 stars) Inventive guitar feedback, but not something I enjoy for 6+ minutes. This song would go down better for me if it were contained in a more musically pallatable context.

South California Purples (4 stars) Super cool bluesy rock with a hard enough guitar riff to get me going. Commanding horns tell the story in no uncertain terms. Chicago sneaks in a brief Beatles melody followed by a riff that could have been heard in a Black Sabbath concert. Then they wrap up with this awesome song's great head-bopping melody.

I'm A Man (4 stars) Percussion instruments come in first this time, us guys like to hit things together. I'm not too familiar with the original version of this song, but I definitely like this Chicago version of the ultimate "man song". Great drum solo in the middle and great guitar too.

Someday (4 stars)

Prologue, August 29, 1968 Recording of a crowd in protest

Someday (August 29, 1968) Hopeful message in the midst of political turmoil; great sense of the activism of the day through horns that herald either war or decide.

Liberation (3 stars) I love how this song starts out but it moves through most of its 14 minutes with a jam session that is more jam than melodic. Perhaps this kind of music is better appreciated on the live stage. After the chaos and war section there is a nice recovery of hopeful horns which builds momentum towards the climax. Almost there is a reprise and I think a full reprise would have helped me appreciate this song more. Still great musicians and a great band make this song interesting.

Album: Whoa! At the dawn of the age of progressive rock we have a band that incorporated many of the instruments of the orchestra into its regular line up. I know of no other band like Chicago. Besides great songs, the variety of songwriters make this album a rich source of pop, rock and progressive music.

MP3 recommendation:

Essential (5 stars) 1. Beginnings (5 stars)

If you got one song off of this CD it should be this one. A beautiful tribute to love and hope and peace and/or whatever you want in your life.

Chicago Transit Authority 1.5 (4.13 stars) 1. Introduction (4 stars) 2. Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? (4 stars) 3. Beginnings (5 stars) 4. Questions 67 and 68 (4 stars) 5. Listen (4 stars) 6. South California Purples (4 stars) 7. I'm A Man (4 stars) 8. Prologue, August 29, 1968 (4 stars) Someday (August 29, 1968)

You'll need something to relax you after listening to this much musical energy, but maybe you could get a good workout out of it as well. If you love this music as much as I do you should probably purchase the entire album. But here is my recommendation of the best that still runs the length of about 1-1/2 albums from that era.

sealchan | 4/5 |


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