Tuesday, 16 September 2014

"Chicago Transit Authority" by CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY - A Review Of Their 1969 Columbia/CBS Records Debut 2LP Set - Now Reissued & Remastered In 2002 By Rhino Onto CD...

“…You Can Smile...” 

Before they became the slick lurve song unit of the mid to late Seventies (voiced exclusively by Bassist and Lead Vocalist Peter Cetera) - CHICAGO used to be called the all-together cooler CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY - and that’s where this hip little CD reissue comes in (featuring a full double-album on one CD).

Released July 2002 on Warner Strategic Marketing/Rhino 822-76171-2 (Barcode 081227617127) – the 12-tracks on here are a straightforward remaster of their debut “Chicago Transit Authority” – a double-album released April 1969 in the USA on Columbia GP-8 and September 1969 in the UK on CBS Records S 66221.

1. Introduction
2. Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
3. Beginnings
4. Questions 67 and 68 [Side 2]
5. Listen
6. Poem 58
7. Free Form Guitar [Side 3]
8. South California Purples
9. I’m A Man
10. Prologue, August 29, 1968 [Side 4]
11. Someday (August 29, 1968)
12. Liberation

The gatefold card digipak on the inside repros the inner gatefold of the original American double-album – while the nicely laid-out 16-page booklet has detailed liner notes by Rolling Stone’s one-time editor DAVID WILD. There are a few publicity photos and a great colour repro of a Fillmore West poster with the Windy City’s finest proudly supporting The Moody Blues. This CD is like the Yes issues of “Fragile” and “Close To The Edge” by Rhino in that it also comes in a fetching card slipcase. But the best news is the superb DAVID DONNELLY remaster – giving the brass of JAMES PANKOW and LEE LOUGHNANE real prominence and clarity. This is a fantastic sounding CD – full of life and punch.

With Peter Cetera’s voice now so synonymous with the band’s sound – it’s almost disconcerting to hear both Robert Lamm and Terry Kath as lead vocalists. After the brassy Rock’n’Roll of “Introduction” we get the excellent proper songs “Does Anybody Know What Time It Is?” and “Beginnings”. Cetera arrives on “Questions 67 and 68” while “Listen” is frankly a bit of a Sixties mini-masterpiece (lyrics above). I can frankly live without the guitar workouts that are “Poem 58” and “Free Form Guitar” - but I’ve always loved their fabulously funky-rock cover of the Spencer Davis/Steve Winwood classic “I’m A Man”. What a winner- and a damn shame the rare 7” single edit of it isn’t included as a bonus track (see Niggles below). Politics and courage come into the fore with “Prologue” and “Someday” complete with their protesting student chants - while the fourteen and half minute “Liberation” instrumental became a Jimi Hendrix meets Blood, Sweat & Tears showstopper at gigs.

Niggles – with a total playing time of 76:36 minutes - it’s frustrating that time constrictions disallowed the inclusion of no less than SIX seven-inch single ‘edits’ across the following five releases around and after the album’s release:
1. “Questions 67 And 68” b/w “Listen” on Columbia 4-44909 (June 1969)
2. “Beginnings” b/w “Poem 58” on Columbia 4-45011 (October 1969)
3. “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” b/w “Listen” on Columbia 4-45264 (November 1970)
4. “Beginnings” b/w “Colour My World” on Columbia 4-45417 (June 1971)
5. “”Questions 67 And 68” b/w “I’m A Man” on Columbia 4-45467 (September 1971)

You can get “Colour My World” on the CD reissue/remaster of their 2nd album simply called “Chicago” (on WSM/Rhino 8122-76172-2) which has two bonus tracks – the single edits of the big hits “Make Me Smile” and “25 Or 6 To 4”) – while some of the other single edits are available on the July 2002 “Very Best Of” double-Cd compilation.

Live and in your studio face - their 2nd and third albums were just as good – but “Chicago Transit Authority” has a freshness and vitality about it (despite their acknowledged lack of recording experience) that is still kicking to this day. A cool little CD…

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