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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chicago - Live In Toronto (1969 us, wonderful brass jazz rock with psychedelic traces)

Although it may be difficult to believe now, in the late Sixties and early Seventies Chicago were something of a phenomenon. Their debut LP. b'Chicago Transit Authority', was certified platinum in the US, something no other CBS artist had ever achieved, even though the label boasted such names as Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel. Their second, simply titled 'Chicago', repeated the commercial success of their first, and singles from both sold strongly either side of the Atlantic.

As time passed, their music mellowed and interest waned, the critical acclaim turned to critical reviews, and although Chicago continued to record right through the Seventies and Eighties, they have never recaptured the excitement generated by those early releases. All but one of the band's original line-up hailed from the city which gave them their name. Their early days were spent largely unnoticed in the dingy bars and clubs of the Midwest, but a move to the West coast in 1968 proved crucial to their later success.

Here they linked up with James William Guercio, who had established his credentials through production work with Blood, Sweat and Tears. Guercio not only secured the band dates at prestigious West coast venues, he also negotiated their recording contract with CBS. The volatile political scene of the late Sixties provided the other key element of their success. During 1968, protests at America's involvement in Vietnam were at their height, and racial tension was at fever pitch.

Demonstrations outside the Democratic Convention in Chicago turned into full scale riots when police used tear-gas and clubs to disperse the crowds. Recordings of protesters were incorporated into one of the numbers on Chicago's debut LP. and this move, coupled with lyrics informed by the revolutionary rhetoric of the times, completed their identification with both their home town and the counter-culture. Their music had an exciting, innovative feel, and was probably the most successful attempt ever to marry the diverse elements of jazz, rock and white soul.

Its precise brass arrangements blended with lengthy jazz guitar solos appealed to a late Sixties audience constantly searching for a more sophisticated sound. This recording of an early live performance at one of the famed Toronto Rock Festivals provides evidence of the band's ability and power.

On stage, although they obviously sought to reproduce the often complex arrangements arrived at the studio, they were never afraid to cut loose and explore the possibilities of the'jazzier side of their music. Faithful renditions of their hit singles '25 Or 6 To 4', 'Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? and the Steve Winwood penned 'I'm A Man' contrast with the looser improvisational approach employed on 'Liberation', the number which closes the set.

The shifting textures of this lengthy instrumental are epitomised by Terry Kath's exhilarating guitar - a key component of Chicago's characteristic sound and one sadly lost forever with his death in a firearms accident in 1978. Anyone with a taste for Chicago's early work will welcome this opportunity to hear the band run through these blistering versions of their best-loved numbers. Their unqiue blend of widely differing musical styles set apart from almost everyone around them - in their own distinctive way, Chicago were themselves a minor revolution.
by Alan Kinsman

1. Beginnings - 6.20
2. South California Purples - 5.45
3. 25 Or 6 To 4 - 5.04
4. Does Anybody Know What Time It Is - 3.05
5. I'm A Man (Steve Winwood, James Miller) - 6.49
6. Questions 67 And 68 -
7. Liberation (James Pankow) - 16.09
All songs by Robert Lamm except where indicated.

*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

More Chicago
1969 Chicago Transit Authority (Japan SHM-CD)
1970 Chicago II 

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Ashton, Gardner And Dyke - The Worst Of (1970 uk, fantastic progressive groovy jazzy rock)

In 1970 Ashton was among the many musicians appearing on George Harrison's latest solo album, the triple-disc All Things Must Pass, contributing keyboards to "Isn't It a Pity." For whatever reason, he wasn't credited on the album, but Harrison repaid him generously, teaming up with Eric Clapton to join Ashton, Gardner & Dyke as they set to work on their sophomore album. Jim Price and Bobby Keys, fellow stars of the Delaney & Bonnie outing, were already aboard; under the not especially mysterious pseudonyms of George O'Hara Smith and Sir Cedric Clayton, Harrison and Clapton appear on the track "I'm Your Spiritual Breadman."

Originally scheduled to be the band's next single, the song was ultimately passed over in favor of "Resurrection Shuffle" ("Breadman" was relegated to the American B-side), a smart move that resulted in a worldwide hit. A gritty, horn-laden R&B shouter, "Resurrection Shuffle" went to number three in the U.K. in January 1971, followed by a Top 40 berth in the U.S., and even landed a punchy cover version by Tom Jones. An album, titled after the hit, followed and, though it climbed no higher than number 185, it remains a period favorite, both among students of early-'70s rock and with Harrison and Clapton fans. British pressings of the album, incidentally, were retitled The Worst of Ashton, Gardner & Dyke, a wryly self-effacing name that might explain its chart failure.

In the wake of the hit, the trio embarked on a period of solid gigging -- one excellent show from this period is captured on the posthumous Let It Roll Live album. Unfortunately, although "Resurrection Shuffle" raised the trio's profile immeasurably, it also crippled the group completely. Audiences wanted more of the same; the band wanted to push ahead. "The hit backfired on us," Ashton mourned years later. "We wanted to be an album band, but once you've got a big hit, you're in the pop league." It was early 1973 before the trio finally released a follow-up single, "Can You Get It," and few observers -- themselves included -- were surprised that it did little. A similar fate awaited the band's third album, What a Bloody Long Day It's Been, and by mid-1973 the band had broken up.

Ashton and Dyke immediately reconvened the Remo 4 for a one-off reunion, cutting a new album, Attention, for release in Germany. (A second reunion occurred in 1997.) Dyke then formed Badger with Yes founder Tony Kaye, cutting one album before recruiting both Gardner and another artist with strong Harrison connections, former Apple star Jackie Lomax. When Badger split, Dyke moved into session work with the likes of Chris Barber, Cafe Society, and Pat Travers, before moving to Germany, where he now lives. Lomax and Gardner remained together in a new group named after Badger's final album, White Lady. That project swiftly fizzled out, and Gardner relocated to the U.S., where his subsequent session credentials included the Dwight Twilley Band. Later, he opened the renowned Cat & Fiddle British-style pub in Hollywood and made only infrequent returns to music (including a late-'90s collaboration with Mitch Mitchell). Gardner died from cancer on October 26, 2001.

Ashton moved into session work, playing with Family, Jerry Lee Lewis, Third World War, Tucky Buzzard, Ian Dury, and Kenny Ball, among others, and becoming a crucial branch of the Deep Purple family tree. Ashton, too, was claimed by cancer, on May 28, 2001.
by Dave Thompson

1. Let It Roll
(Kim Gardner, Roy Dyke, Tony Ashton) - 4:23
2. I'm Your Spiritual Breadman - 3:13
3. Hymn To Everyone - 3:43
4. Mention My Name - 3:58
5. Don't Want No War No More - 3:07
6. Momma's Getting Married
(Kim Gardner, Roy Dyke, Tony Ashton) - 3:37
7. Paper Head, Paper Mind - 4:48
8. Oh Lord - 3:42
9. Sweet Patti O'Hara Smith - 2:56
10.Mister Freako - 4:17
All Songs written by Tony Ashton except where noted.

*Eric Clapton - Guitar
*George Harrison - Guitar
*Tony Ashton - Piano, Organ, Vocals
*Kim Gardner - Bass
*Roy Dyke - Drums
*Jim Price - Trumpet
*Bobby Keys - Sax

Other Ashton Gardner & Dyke releases
1971 Let It Rill (Live)

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