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Chicago - The Chicago Transit Authority CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.07 | 218 ratings

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5 stars So, this is where it all began. Issued under the unwieldy 'Chicago Transit Authority' moniker, Chicago's original release proved to be one of the first rock 'n' roll double-album debuts, marking a brave leap of faith both for the group and their label. It would, however, be a gamble that soon paid off. Although today the group are mainly known for issuing string of hit singles that includes such radio staples as 'If You Leave Me Now' and 'Feelin' Stronger Every Day', Chicago actually started out as a very different beast. Blending elements of jazz, blues and psychedelia and featuring a powerful brass section, the original seven-strong outfit's 1969 debut is in fact a surprisingly experimental album that covers a whole spectrum of sound and styles, an album that is as much a product of the 1960's as the likes of either Jefferson Airplane or Frank Zappa. Later albums would find Chicago softening their sound as their success grew, entering the realms of MOR pop as the decade neared its conclusion, yet during their initial burst of activity this was a group who constantly pushed and probed the musical envelope, creating music that was both accessible yet highly progressive. Both 'Chicago Transit Authority' and follow-up 'Chicago II' would be double-albums, showcasing the group's phenomenal song-writing and compositional abilities, whilst a trip to Carnegie Hall would see Chicago become one of the very first rock groups to take the stage at the hallowed venue, the results subsequently issued on the impressive quadruple live album 'Chicago At Carnegie Hall'. In the first five years of activity Chicago managed to produce an enormous volume of work, though of all their early albums it is their debut which finds them at their most inquisitive, 'Chicago Transit Authority' hosting an exuberant journey through four sides of what can be best described as electric brass-rock. The album features such group classics as the ballroom-spiced jazz-rock number 'Introduction', the joyous jazz-pop single 'Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is' and the lysergic psych-rock of both 'Freeform Guitar' and 'Southern California Purples', yet also finds time for jazzy instrumental numbers('Prologue'), fast-paced acid rock('Poem 58') and epic prog fusion workouts('Liberation'). A genuine melting-pot of ideas and styles, 'Chicago Transit Authority' ranks as Chicago's most individual release, laying the foundations of a fabulously-successful career. Whilst the 1980's would find a very different sounding Chicago in operation, virtually all the group's 1970's albums are worth exploring. However, this is Chicago at the rawest and toughest, blending the swagger of Led Zeppelin with the refined fusion pallette of Miles Davis and the funk-strut of Isaac Hayes. Its a fine album, a genuine classic and an example of just how good Chicago were in their heyday. STEFAN TURNER, ANGEL, 2012
stefro | 5/5 |


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