In The Land of Free, we still keep on Rockin'

Plain and Fancy

"I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free"

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chicago - Chicago Transit Authority (1969 us, smashing debut album, with fusion jazz and blues rock elements, japan SHM remaster)

Opinion on what is surely one of the finest debut albums ever made tends to be somewhat polarised these days. Detractors of what eventually, sadly, unforgivably, metamorphosed into the ultimate slush-rock outfit simply ignore it; admirers of the earlier stuff who nonetheless try to distance themselves from the currently unfashionable genre of jazz-rock describe the band as a mainstream hard-rock quartet accompanied by a more-adventurous-than-average Memphis-style horn trio. In fact Chicago Transit Authority has real jazz in bucketloads, alongside blissed-out rock, blues, funk-soul and some wilful psychedelic oddness, particularly in the lyrics and occasional sound effects. And in this instance the mixture really does work.

The first thing that hits your consciousness is the bullhorn-brash confidence of this nascent outfit. Seven unknown but uncompromising musicians offer as their first recording a double album containing eleven lengthy tracks (and one short prologue). The staple fare is meticulously arranged songs, some of which contain enough modulations and changes of tempo to allow them to qualify as suites. Heaven knows how long they rehearsed to get their sh*t this tight, but they are that good and they know it. What other band had the chutzpah to include on its debut a seven-minute solo guitar piece comprising only electronic feedback, long before Lou Reed or Neil Young did so? No wonder the guitarist can be heard laughing into the amplifier mic half way through the piece. He’s not giving the finger to the record company; he’s saying, “this isn’t gratuitous noise, this is our art: make up your own mind whether it’s valid.”

All the musicians are excellent, but in particular guitarist Terry Kath can give Hendrix a fright in the sustain/widdling stakes (“Poem 58”: reportedly, Jimi rated him as a peer) and can perform a continually-inventive twelve-minute strut on the pentatonic comparable to Frank Zappa at his best (“Liberation”). Yes, the horns can throw in the choreographed stabs, but they show themselves capable of ambitious yet economical improv soloing (“Introduction”). Together, the septet move beyond finely honed jazzy pieces (“Beginnings”) through a bludgeoning riff-blues (“South California Purples”) to a latin-drenched drum solo (the fine cover of Steve Winwood’s “I’m A Man”), while the lyrics veer from hippy-dippy mysticism (“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”) to abrupt political statement (“Prologue, August 29, 1968” / “Someday”). The latter segues seamlessly and intelligently out of the former, a location recording of a chanting civil rights crowd, to drum the message home.

1. Introduction (Terry Kath) - 6:35
2. Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? (Robert Lamm) - 4:35
3. Beginnings (Robert Lamm) - 7:54
4. Questions 67 and 68" (Robert Lamm) - 5:03
5. Listen (Robert Lamm) - 3:22
6. Poem 58 (Robert Lamm) - 8:35
7. Free Form Guitar (Terry Kath) - 6:47
8. South California Purples (Robert Lamm) - 6:11
9. I'm a Man (Steve Winwood/James Miller) - 7:43
10.Prologue (James William Guercio) - 0:58
11.Someday (James Pankow/Robert Lamm) - 4:11
12.Liberation (James Pankow) - 14:38

*Peter Cetera - Bass, Vocals
*Terry Kath - Guitar, Vocals
*Robert Lamm - Keyboard, Vocals
*Lee Loughnane - Trumpet, Vocals
*James Pankow - Trombone
*Walter Parazaider - Woodwinds, Vocals
*Danny Seraphine - Drums

Free Text


mkraemer55 said...

Thank you for this essential album n Japan release.

MIF said...

The first and the best. Thank you Marios

Brain Police said...

Thank you Marios for the SHM edition of this fantastic album!

Tommy D said...

Thanks Marios, this is such a classic album.
No doubt you are a great buddy to all good music lovers ...

War Oponda said...

The sound of this Japanese edition is even more fantastic. Thank you very much, Marios.

Anonymous said...

Grazie !!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the links. MP3 @320 is enough for me. It because I just need to check it out how audiophile the CD are [and how the cover sleeve], just before I buy the CD. And, of course about the music, whether I like it or not.
Sorry for my bad English, cause my main language and the place where I grown up ain't no use English on there. So, it makes me have difficultiesness to speaking in English. I'm a half Japanese and a half Indonesian, and which my family that stranded in Surabaya. And have the internet connection which is kinda shitty so slowly speed. (that's why I said MP3 @320 is enough for me, beside I just need it for my review before I decided to buy the CD).

With warm regards,
Asuki :)

No Title said...

Thank you. I never listen to this band but I know them for a long time. Someone told me it is a good one. I don't like brass section in rock bands. So thank you to make me listen to them and have an idea.

Peter Cushing said...

Please could this album be reposted ?

The links are dead.

Thank you in advance.


Marios said...


Peter Cushing said...

First of all, let me say thank you so much Marios for fulfilling my request.

This is a stunning album from start to finish.

I can hear jazzy influences on this record, which bring to mind similar era King Crimson.

The horn section is hot and relentless too.

Thank you once again.


Saturday 10th January 2015 00.22am