Artist – Album: Chicago Transit Authority – Chicago Transit Authority
Released: 28th April 1969
Sounds Like: One big bluesy rock jam
It’s hard to imagine that this jazz-infused rock jam band would go on to become the M.O.R balladeers responsible for the fluffy pop of ‘If You Leave Me Now,’ released just seven years after this landmark debut.
Blending freewheeling rhythm & bass and euphoric horn sections with the guitar chops of Terry Kath – a guitarist so talented that even the great Jimi Hendrix was a fan – and the trio of bluesy vocalists courtesy of Kath, Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera, Chicago Transit Authority created epic soulful rock and roll jams that meandered between the banal and the brilliant. Of the former, frenetic fourteen minute wig out ‘Liberation’ may not be overly bad, just overlong and overwrought, but ‘Free Form Guitar’ is as horrifically pretentious as its title suggests. Meanwhile, nothing, here or elsewhere, gets much more brilliant than the funky cover of the Spencer Davis Group’s ‘I’m a Man’.
Although most of the tunes here are energetic muck arounds from the seven piece, there are softer elements and more structure in a couple of the tracks chosen as singles, such as ‘Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?’ and ‘Questions 67 and 68’. Other highlights are the blues rock belter ‘Introduction’ and the politically charged ‘Someday (August 29, 1968)’.
Ultimately, the album serves as a great snapshot of a prodigiously talented group before they mellowed out and lost that edge, and, shorn of a few minute long solos and a few regrettable tracks, this would stand as one of the very best rock records around.
Albumaday... rating: 7/10
1. Introduction – 6:35
2. Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? – 4:35
3. Beginnings – 7:54
4. Questions 67 and 68 – 5:03
5. Listen – 3:22
6. Poem 58 – 8:35
7. Free Form Guitar – 6:47
8. South California Purples – 6:11
9. I’m a Man – 7:43
10. Prologue, August 29, 1968 – 0:58
11. Someday (August 29, 1968) – 4:11
12. Liberation – 14:38
Listen to ‘I’m a Man’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8vY3vAbAdQ