Author Topic: The Chicago Discography  (Read 34630 times)

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Online Orbert

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The Chicago Discography
« on: July 12, 2013, 11:18:24 PM »
Another Orbert Discography, this time from my first favorite band, the band originally known as:

The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)




That was originally the back cover, even though CDs tend to put that on the front nowadays.  The front cover originally looked like this:




Peter Cetera - Bass, Vocals
Terry Kath - Guitar, Vocals
Robert Lamm - Keyboards, Vocals
Lee Loughnane - Trumpet, Background Vocals
James Pankow - Trombone, Background Vocals
Walt Parazaider - Saxophone, Background Vocals
Danny Seraphine - Drums

----------

Introduction  6:35
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?  4:33
Beginnings  7:58
Questions 67 and 68  5:04
Listen  3:22
Poem 58  8:37
Free Form Guitar  6:53
South California Purples  6:10
I'm a Man  7:40
Prologue, August 29, 1968  0:57
Someday (August 29, 1968)  4:13
Liberation  15:41


They wanted to do something different, play rock music with a full-time horn section as an integral part of the sound, not just added here and there.  They started out fusing rock with jazz, later adding a pinch of classical, country and western, and anything else that was handy.  They arrived on the music scene at exactly the right time for such a formula to work, and it worked well.  They were second only to The Beach Boys as the most successful American rock band, in terms of albums, singles, and total records in the charts.

They met in Chicago, where the horn section went to DePaul University and pianist/organist Robert Lamm went to Roosevelt University.  Lamm had a stack of songs he'd been writing while looking for a band to play them in.  He sang and played piano and organ, and said he could cover the bass parts with the pedals, so all they needed was a guitar and drums.  Guitarist Terry Kath and drummer Danny Seraphine were already working in the local clubs, but were both intrigued by the idea of rock with big-band jazz overtones.  Also, Terry could sing, and his rough baritone voice was a nice contrast to Robert's high baritone/low tenor.

It turned out that they really needed a bass player after all, as Robert hadn't actually learned to play the pedals yet, so bassist Peter Cetera was brought on board.  He had a high tenor voice which again provided a different color.  With three lead singers, three horns, guitar, keys, bass, and drums, the lineup was complete.  Their sound was so big that their debut album was a double studio LP, which was unheard-of at the time and is still very rare.

Most songs on the early albums were written by Lamm, but the debut opens with Terry Kath's aptly titled "Introduction".  From the opening bars, you know you're in for something different.  Two syncopated beats by the rhythm section are followed immediately by a horn riff which starts off in unison but eventually breaks into harmony reminiscent of big band or even be-bop.  As the song unfolds, Terry tells us a little bit about the band and asks us to just "let us play for you".  We take a musical trip from the jazz clubs on State Street in Chicago to the bars of Los Angeles.  We get the first of many horns breaks in odd time signatures (arrangements courtesy of Pankow), followed by trombone, trumpet, and guitar solos each in a different key and tempo, and finally the last verse ("now we've put you through the changes") and a syncopated, atonal ending.  As it turns out, every one of these would become Chicago trademarks, but they're all here in a six and a half minute tour-de-force.  An "Introduction" indeed.

Just to remind you to continue to expect the unexpected, the very next song starts with a free-form jazz piano solo.  A full minute of improvisation passes before we hear the now-familiar horn fanfare which opens "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?", a musing on whether anybody really knows or cares about time and the first of five Lamm compositions in a row.  But again, just to keep you on your toes, we go from 4/4 to 5/8 to 3/4 and back to 4/4 all before the first verse starts, and this was all after that jazz piano solo.

"Beginnings" pushes a few new boundaries.  After two verses, we get a breakdown, a quick four-bar horn break, then a slow build up to the trumpet and trombone swapping fours a few times, jazz style, then combining for a duet (all ad-lib) and a final chorus.  During the chorus repeats, a new Latin percussion instrument is added every four bars, and after the regular instruments fade out, the Latin percussion continues for another full minute.  This concluded Side One of the original LP.

"Questions 67 and 68" opens Side Two and introduces Peter Cetera on lead vocals on Chicago's first single.  It made it to #71 on the Billboard singles chart.  Not exactly a hit, but not bad for a new band.  It would later be re-released (nearly two years later, after the success of Chicago's second album) and reach #24.  It introduces another Chicago device, a composed horn break with the guitar ad-libbing underneath.  And it ends with yet another Chicago trademark: the song is in the key of C, and it ends with a long, sustained "C" chord on the piano.  Each of the first ten albums has at least one song ending with "a big C".

"Listen" is the shortest song on the album, and even a bit redundant, as its message is basically the same as "Introduction".  It entreats the listener to set aside preconceptions, make some time, and just listen.  The break is another ad-libbed guitar solo while the horns played a composed part.

"Poem 58" turns things around again.  It starts off with a catchy, syncopated riff, then dives immediately into an extended guitar solo which lasts over half of the song.  The song proper has only two verses, separated by another guitar solo and a horn break, but at over eight and a half minutes, is another mini-epic.

"Free Form Guitar" is a track which tends to divide listeners.  Terry Kath plugged his Fender Stratocaster directly into his Showman amp and did his best Jimi Hendrix imitation.  No pedals, everything recorded live in the studio.  Chicago would later open for Jimi on his tour, and according to the stories, Jimi would exclaim "Your horns breathe like one set of lungs, and your guitarist is better than me!"

"South California Purples" is, of course, really just the blues with horns.  Another Lamm composition, this time about missing Chicago and how depressing Southern California really is.  Six of the seven members were born in Chicago, and all of them grew up there.  They moved to L.A. to pursue their dream, but paying your dues is never easy, and it's telling that three of the 12 songs on their debut album bring it up.

Like all bands, Chicago started out playing covers.  Their version of The Spencer Davis Group's "I'm a Man" was so unique that they wanted to include it here.  Terry sings the first verse, Peter sings the second, and Robert sings the third.  After the break, they come back and repeat the second and third verse, but add the horns as well.

"Prologue, August 29, 1968" is a short track, an actual recording made at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.  But it's not a happy recording.  It captures the sounds of black militants protesting and the efforts of Chicago police to get them to disperse.  The chant "The whole world's watching" is repeated over and over, and its rhythm is joined by instruments one at a time, seguing into "Someday (August 29, 1968)".  Together, the two tracks form one of the more obvious examples of Chicago's final influence, which is 60's protest music.

"Liberation" is the closing track, an instrumental recorded in one take in the studio.  It starts with two instrumental verses, then goes into an extended guitar solo before going through several changes and coming back to the horns for the ending.  It's credited to James Pankow, who obviously wrote the horn parts, but the real star here, as on so many of the early tracks, is Terry Kath on guitar.

----------

Campus radio stations were starting to have an influence on what ultimately became popular and sold a lot.  Also helping change the musical landscape was the advent of FM radio.  With its better sound quality than AM, rock music was no longer just something to put on at parties and for dancing, but people would actually sit and listen to rock music.  Rock responded by becoming more sophisticated.  It had matured and was ready to cross-breed with jazz, classical, and other mature musical forms.

On its initial release, The Chicago Transit Authority made it to #17 without a hit single.  It was "album-oriented" music.  FM stations played it, young people marveled at the sound, then went and bought it, took it home, and did the same thing.  Just played it over and over.  "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" and "Beginnings" weren't hits until after the second album had come out.  Chicago's producer, James William Guercio, was an exec at Columbia Records, and he saw to it that The Chicago Transit Authority was not forgotten by releasing those two songs, and re-releasing "Questions 67 and 68", while eventually tapping the second album for three singles as well.

While it's true the LPs aren't as long as CDs, and most double LPs from the 60's and 70's fit on a single CD, it's also true that the debut album by a band being a double was unheard-of.  Chicago's first, second, and third albums were all doubles, a feat which has never been matched, and probably never will be.  Then their live album was a quadruple set.  But I'm getting ahead of myself now.

By pretty much any measure, this album was amazing and groundbreaking.  The closet thing to it was Blood, Sweat & Tears' first album, also produced by James William Guercio.  It too featured a horn section and a fusion of rock and jazz.  And while the BS&T debut was also very good, Guercio basically produced that album so he could raise some money to fund his pet project, The Chicago Transit Authority, who he both managed and produced.  When Columbia balked at letting them do a double LP for their debut, he convinced the band to take a reduced royalty percentage as a compromise.  For the first decade, Chicago didn't make a move that wasn't approved by Guercio.

But enough about the politics.  Let's talk about the music.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2015, 10:45:53 AM by Orbert »

Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2013, 11:24:52 PM »
Lord, let me rev up YouTube tomorrow.   Definitely wanna contribute on this thread.

Gracias for starting it, Orbert!   :tup
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Offline LieLowTheWantedMan

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2013, 11:32:04 PM »
Great album. :)

Offline Nel

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2013, 11:33:53 PM »
This album is soooo good. "Does Anybody Know What Time It Is?", "Beginnings"... this was a fantastic debut.

I'll hang onto this as long as I can, Orbert. My love for Chicago is strong for the first few albums, but curls up and dies around Chicago V-VIII. It's nice to see one of these threads again though. For a band I know, I mean.  :D

Offline Jaq

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2013, 11:35:00 PM »
As I mentioned elsewhere, it was Orbert singing the praises of the Carnegie Hall live album that got me to look into early Chicago, and wow, glad I did. Need to give this another spin so I can properly comment on it, but it's a great album.
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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2013, 11:40:05 PM »
simply a fantastic debut album.  #36 on my top 50 list.  Such a great full, raw sound.  They had thick voicings covered in the vocals and the horns.
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Offline ReaperKK

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2013, 06:41:04 AM »
I know nothing about Chicago so this will be really awesome to follow.

On a side note did The Beatles one ever get finished?

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2013, 07:23:02 AM »
Great write up! Great band as well.
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Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2013, 08:29:07 AM »
Just woke up to Saturday in the Park and 25 or 6 to 4.   :hefdaddy

Interesting bit on Prologue, August 29, 1968.  That's my sister's birth date. 

Choice tunes!   :tup
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Online Orbert

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2013, 08:47:28 AM »
I know nothing about Chicago so this will be really awesome to follow.

On a side note did The Beatles one ever get finished?

I don't think so.  I was willing to take that one over, but I wasn't going to do it without Sir Bradford's okay, since it was his thread, and he never came back.  I actually kinda forgot about it.

Offline hefdaddy42

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2013, 08:54:32 AM »
Great thread idea, and a great excuse to listen to this amazing album again - it's been a while.

Orbert, great OP.
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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2013, 11:13:58 AM »
Can't say enough about this album.  This is one of those albums that you never get sick of.
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Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2013, 12:20:01 PM »
Can't say enough about this album.  This is one of those albums that you never get sick of.

It's on Amazon for $4.99!!   :omg:

And it is coming my way!
"We spend most of our lives convinced we’re the protagonist of the story, but we rarely realize that we’re just supporting characters in everybody else’s story. Nobody thinks about you as much as you do."

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2013, 01:36:33 PM »
Ha ha, that's probably how much I paid for the album originally, 40 or so years ago.  That's a great deal.  You will enjoy.

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2013, 01:39:27 PM »
As I said in the classic rock thread, this is one of the best debut albums ever released, and definitely one of the best rock albums ever, period.

Offline ytserush

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2013, 02:22:01 PM »
The beginning of a 9 year period that is as great as any in post Beatles history.

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2013, 02:47:15 PM »
Can't say enough about this album.  This is one of those albums that you never get sick of.

It's on Amazon for $4.99!!   :omg:

And it is coming my way!

Great call.  You'll love it.
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Offline sirbradford117

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2013, 03:10:13 PM »
I WILL be following!  Can't wait!
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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2013, 03:31:12 PM »
Bradford, you're alive!

So about that Beatles discography...

Offline sirbradford117

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2013, 04:38:10 PM »
I know nothing about Chicago so this will be really awesome to follow.

On a side note did The Beatles one ever get finished?

I don't think so.  I was willing to take that one over, but I wasn't going to do it without Sir Bradford's okay, since it was his thread, and he never came back.  I actually kinda forgot about it.

It's still on my "to-do" list to launch it again...
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Listen to sirbradford in all things Beatles :P

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2013, 04:40:24 PM »
Cool. :hat

Offline ReaperKK

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2013, 06:23:35 PM »
I know nothing about Chicago so this will be really awesome to follow.

On a side note did The Beatles one ever get finished?

I don't think so.  I was willing to take that one over, but I wasn't going to do it without Sir Bradford's okay, since it was his thread, and he never came back.  I actually kinda forgot about it.

You should finish it if you ever have the time, I love reading and listening along, especially since I know very little beatles music.

Offline The Letter M

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #22 on: July 13, 2013, 09:49:02 PM »
Brought CTA into the car with me today to listen to as I commute around over the next day or so. Going to be following this thread as I got in to Chicago awhile ago and I own most of their first 11 albums, but I've since shelved their music since, but this will allow me to revisit their material along with others!

The first album is indeed a GREAT debut, and in fact, I've enjoyed the first three albums (all doubles originally on vinyl!) ever since I got in to them! GREAT run of albums and you can't really go wrong with any three of them, but to come out of the gate at full speed with this album, it must have been something truly spectacular when it was originally released!

And speaking of The Beatles, their song "Got To Get You Into My Life" (from Revolver) was a huge influence on the formation of Chicago, which I always found interesting. Had The Beatles not released that song (with horns at least), we may have never had Chicago as it once was!

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #23 on: July 13, 2013, 10:27:01 PM »
That's true.  The Beatles set the mold for "regular" rock bands (two guitars, bass, drums) then later fractured that by adding strings, horns, clarinets, or whatever they felt the song needed, or one of them playing keyboards, or switching around who plays bass and who plays guitar, or...

But anyway, yeah, the horns were a pretty big deal when they showed up on Revolver; more than you might think, and it's pretty clear the Robert Lamm is a huge Beatles fan.  A number of early Chicago songs have Beatles quotes in them.

"I've got to get you into my life" in "Beginnings".  It's during an ad-libbed part, but he does it on the live album as well.
"I am he as you are he and you are we and we are all together" (or whatever the heck it is) in "South California Purples".
I know there are others, but I can't think of them right now.

Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #24 on: July 13, 2013, 10:47:10 PM »
Earth Wind & Fire didn't do a bad job with "Got to Get You Into My Life", either.   I love horn sections!
"We spend most of our lives convinced we’re the protagonist of the story, but we rarely realize that we’re just supporting characters in everybody else’s story. Nobody thinks about you as much as you do."

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #25 on: July 14, 2013, 12:55:07 AM »
Damn, great OP Orbert. That was truly an enlightening read.  :tup

I love this album. I've only heard the first few albums, and of course all of the hits, but this has to be my favorite so far. I think CTA is in the discussion for one of the best debuts albums of all time. They sound incredibly tight, and you can tell that they are a bunch of inspired young men. Each lead singer brings something unique to the table, the horns are obviously amazing, Kath was a monster on guitar and was almost ahead of his time, Cetera was an underrated bassist imo, and Seraphine was there to hold all that madness together, whom I also feel is underrated.

Favorites for me are Poem 58 - that guitar solo is so captivating! And Introduction.
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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #26 on: July 14, 2013, 09:47:18 AM »
Sweet!

I have never listened to Chicago but I think that is going to change. I LOVE these threads... The ELP one really got my juices flowing :zydar:
I just don't understand what they were trying to achieve with any part of the song, either individually or as a whole. You know what? It's the Platypus of Dream Theater songs. That bill doesn't go with that tail, or that strange little furry body, or those webbed feet, and oh god why does it have venomous spurs!? And then you find out it lays eggs too. The difference is that the Platypus is somehow functional despite being a crazy mishmash or leftover animal pieces

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Re: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority (1969)
« Reply #27 on: July 14, 2013, 10:47:50 AM »
I'm glad people are digging this one.  Chicago was my first "favorite band".  The first three albums I ever owned were all by Chicago.  I've wanted to do the Chicago discography for a while, but like many longtime fans, I became disillusioned with them in the 80's and 90's when their sound seemed to change.  Terry had died, and took the heart and soul of the band with him, but as I said in the Classic Rock thread, you can't blame the band for wanting to continue.  They still had a ton a talent and plenty of good music to make, and it wasn't their fault that the music scene had changed and all anyone wanted to hear was Peter's ballads and songs about failed love affairs.

I always pictured the guys from Chicago as being pretty comfortable, but not exactly multi-millionaires.  They split the royalties seven ways, and later eight ways, and that was at a reduced percentage to begin with.  They had to keep working to pay the bills, and basically that's all they knew how to do anyway.  So they kept making new albums, even though most people still just wanted to hear "25 or 6 to 4" and "Make Me Smile".

Anyway, I stopped following Chicago around then, but in recent years I've worked on accumulating their entire discography, minus the countless "greatest hits" packages and repackages and maybe a few of the live albums of dubious authenticity.  I didn't want to do a discography thread and stop it at a certain point and say "Well, they got boring beyond this point."  You have to do these things properly.

A couple of final thoughts on the first album.  These are long songs.  Remember that in 1969, songs were still two and a half minute pop songs, three minutes max.  Two verses, maybe a break, then either a quick third verse or just another chorus, and you're done.  Chicago, in their own way, were prog.  The extended jazz solos, changing time and key signatures, fast and slow movements within the same song, nonstandard song structures, and of course the horns as a "lead instrument".  Maybe not prog in the same sense as Genesis or Yes, but Chicago helped push the boundaries and broaden the scope of rock and roll, and what you could play and still call it rock and roll.

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Chicago (1970)
« Reply #28 on: July 16, 2013, 09:02:56 PM »
Chicago (1970)



Peter Cetera - Bass, Vocals
Terry Kath - Guitar, Vocals
Robert Lamm - Keyboards, Vocals
Lee Loughnane - Trumpet, Background Vocals
James Pankow - Trombone, Background Vocals
Walt Parazaider - Saxophone, Flute, Background Vocals
Danny Seraphine - Drums

----------

Movin' In  4:06
The Road  3:10
Poem for the People  5:31
In the Country  6:34
Wake Up Sunshine  2:29
Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon  12:55
  Make Me Smile
  So Much to Say, So Much to Give
  Anxiety's Moment
  West Virginia Fantasies
  Colour My World
  To Be Free
  Now More Than Ever
Fancy Colours  5:10
25 or 6 to 4  4:50
Prelude  1:18
A.M. Mourning  2:05
P.M. Mourning  1:59
Memories of Love  4:01
It Better End Soon  10:24
  1st Movement
  2nd Movement
  3rd Movement
  4th Movement
Where Do We Go from Here?  2:53


The real Chicago Transit Authority, the government-run entity which oversees mass transit in the Chicago area, threatened to sue The Chicago Transit Authority, the band.  Because obviously it would be too easy to mistake a rock and roll band for a bus company and accidentally buy a record album when you meant to purchase a ticket to Wheeling.  The band's manager and producer, James William Guercio, decided to just change the name of the band rather than try to fight them, since they were clearly out of their minds.  He didn't think the city of Chicago would mind having a band named after it, so the band became Chicago.

This album, therefore, was the second eponymous debut album in a row by the same band, something that I'm pretty sure has never been done before or since.  It is often catalogued as "Chicago II" as the band would later fall into a pattern of giving their albums Roman numeral designations, but the proper title of the album is Chicago.

The first album had some long songs, some with atypical structures.  This album pushed things in a different direction.  After the first side, which consists of four "regular" songs, each of the remaining sides is dominated by a suite of songs, each written by one of the band's main composers.  In the LP days, an album was naturally divided into two (or four) "sets".  It sometimes presented logistical challenges, but also opportunities to sequence and arrange the songs for maximum effect

"Movin' In" is a James Pankow song, yet another "introduction" to the band.  We've gotten one from each of the three main writers.  Sung by Terry Kath, it explains that this is what they've chosen to do, as hard as that may be to understand.  Not a bad song, and the break features jazz solos from the saxophone, trumpet, and trombone.

"The Road" is a Terry Kath composition, sung by Peter Cetera.  I mentioned in the CTA writeup that Terry didn't write many songs, but they were often unusual and, to me, interesting because his approach is so unconventional.  His choice of chords and cadences is often way outside the box.  The song is in 4/4, but it has an odd cadence, and each verse ends with a quick horn break with bars of 6/4 and 5/4.

"Poem for the People" is written and sung by Robert Lamm, and brings back one of his favorite themes: concern for the future, based on what he sees happening in the present.  It's a quiet, sad song, but features two horn breaks, both fully composed, which are uptempo and provide some nice contrast.

"In the Country" is another Terry Kath song, this time sung by Terry, with Peter taking a few lines here and there for contrast.  Once again, we get some interesting changes.  My favorite comes at the end of the break where, after a few modulations, they end up singing an A-flat sus4 chord, with Terry on the 4th (D-flat), and he holds the note while the chord changes to A, and now it's the 3rd (and thus is technically a C-sharp) and we've recapitulated back to the original key, all while he's holding the same note.  It's a brilliant, masterful key change.

"Wake Up Sunshine", a nice little song by Lamm, opens Side Two.  He sings the verses and Cetera sings the break.  Chicago completely exploited the fact that they had three lead vocalists.  The contrast between the voices accompanies changes in the music quite naturally and often very effectively.  Anyway, "Wake Up Sunshine" almost feels like a intro to the rather famous suite which follows it and rounds out the side.

The original title was "Ballet for a Girl in Buckhannon" because James Pankow's girlfriend lived and went to school in Buckhannon, West Virginia.  It was mispelled on the album and has been known forever after as the "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon", but the band insists that it at least be pronounced properly ("buck-hannon").  It's a suite in seven movements, and spawned two of the three singles from Chicago (the third being "25 or 6 to 4").

The suite opens with an amazing extended fanfare by the horns which leads into the first song, "Make Me Smile".  After two verses, a horn break, and a guitar solo, it segues directly into "So Much to Say, So Much to Give", a slow, angst-filled song expressing the frustration of living apart from the one you love.  It changes halfway through, becoming a bit more optimistic, then gets darker again before moving into the next piece, "Anxiety's Moment".  "Anxiety's Moment" is an instrumental, a trumpet solo by Lee Loughnane, which goes directly into the next movement.

"West Virginia Fantasies" is a brilliant instrumental in 3/4.  It starts as a trumpet solo, with the trumpet soon joined by a flute.  The two continue as a duet with the parts weaving around each other, then the key changes and we get a contrasting duet by the guitar and organ.  Another change, and the trumpet, sax, and trumpet play a trio that builds and builds, then slows down to a C7, leading us into the next movement, "Colour My World".  "Colour My World' was released as a single, but it's a very unusual song in terms of structure.  The piano intro takes us through an entire verse, then there is one sung verse, then a flute solo for a verse, and then the song ends.  It's the only full stop in the suite.  (Technically the C7 leading into "Colour My World" is a stop, but it doesn't resolve.  The end of "Colour My World" resolves.)

Things break loose again with "To Be Free", an uptempo instrumental that leads us into the closing section, "Now More Than Ever".  The suite closes with another amazing horn break, and of course "a big C".  When I saw Chicago in 1996, Robert Lamm introduced the "ballet" by saying (paraphrased but very close): "Here's a song that Jimmy wrote that we didn't have room for on the first album, and by time we recorded the second album, he'd written this entire piece of music around it."  I found that interesting, because "Make Me Smile" and "Now More Than Ever" are the bookends and clearly form the basis of the suite.  I've also heard the story of how "Jimmy" wrote "Colour My World" after hearing a Mozart piano piece, and now I wonder if it came first, and he literally wrote the ballet "around" it, or if Robert was just using an expression and "Make Me Smile" really was first, and the other bits filled things in, and led us into and out of "Colour My World".  If I ever meet Robert Lamm or James Pankow, I will certainly ask them.

"Make Me Smile" was released as a single, creatively edited from the ballet, with "Now More Than Ever" serving as its third verse (which it is).  In the original edit, the horn fanfare at the beginning is omitted, as is the break at the end.  It skips the guitar solo from "Make Me Smile" and jumps immediately to the recap leading into "Now More Than Ever".  I've also heard a longer edit which keeps both the intro and outro, and the guitar solo.  With three horn breaks and a guiter solo, it's a much more satisfying edit, and of course songs are allowed to be a bit longer nowadays.

Supposedly, Frank Sinatra really loved the song "Colour My World" and wanted to record it, but it only has the one verse.  He asked Pankow to write a second verse, but Pankow wasn't interested.  A lot of writers would've jumped at the chance to have Old Blues Eyes sing one of their songs, but the song is what it is.

"Fancy Colours" open Side Three of the original LP, with the sounds of wind chimes in each speaker.  A Robert Lamm composition, it's a neat song, a bit psychedelic I suppose, with some clever wordplay in the lyrics and some great flute playing courtesy of Walt Parazaider.  It has the "fake-out" ending which we discussed in Big Hath's "Chicago: Top Songs Thread".

As the story goes, Robert Lamm was up late, well into the early morning hours.  He couldn't sleep, so he wondered if he should try to do some more writing.  He kept hearing this riff in his head, over and over.  (Perhaps he'd recently caught Led Zeppelin's "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" or Procol Harum's "Simple Sister" -- both of which have very similar riffs -- on the radio.)  Outside on the street below, a police car goes by, without the siren on, but he can see the lights reflecting against the low clouds.  He looks at the clock through blurry eyes, and it's 25, no, 26 minutes to 4.  Whatever.  It's "25 or 6 to 4"

The next four tracks, which round out Side Three, form a suite, but they aren't indicated as such anywhere on the album.  There's no question that they go together, however, since they segue, and they were all written by Terry Kath, with some orchestration help from his buddy Peter Matz.  "Prelude" is a theme and variations on the melody from the main song, "Memories of Love".  It's introduced on the flute, later joined by strings, reeds and brass.  "A.M. Mourning" brings some development, "P.M. Mourning" has a beautiful trombone solo, a few more changes and more development, eventually leading into "Memories of Love".  It's a nice little suite, a bit of chamber music really, and very different from anything Chicago would do until Chicago XI, when drummer Danny Seraphine would put together a similar suite based on "Little One", a song written for his daughter (and sung by Terry).

Side Four is dominated by a Robert Lamm composition entitled "It Better End Soon".  Written about the Viet Nam war, its themes are universal, as war tends to always create the same issues.  People die.  Some are for it, some are against it, some have no idea why it's going on, and some are sure they know exactly what's going on, but still it continues.  The 1st and 4th Movements open and close the song, while the 2nd Movement is a flute solo, and the 3rd Movement is a "preach", spoken-sung by Terry, about the war, and what we, the people, should do about it.  Robert Lamm's protest music again.

The album closes with Peter Cetera's sole contribution, "Where Do We Go From Here?"  After seeing the Apollo 11 moon landing, many thought we'd done pretty much everything man could do.  So where do we go from here?  The answer, of course, is right here.  How about working on solving problems here at home?

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Wow, there's so much music here, and I've been listening to these albums for so long, that this could easily be two or three times as long.  And it would be, if I hadn't forced myself to be pretty ruthless with the editing.  Believe me, for every sentence here, I think I've written and cut at least one or two.  But I'll stop for now.  Discuss!
« Last Edit: July 17, 2015, 10:47:01 AM by Orbert »

Offline Shadow Ninja 2.0

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #29 on: July 16, 2013, 09:08:15 PM »
Hey, I'm not much of a Chicago fan, but I want to thank you for the work you've put into this. They're one of my dad's favorite bands, so maybe this will help me get into them. :tup
if the flow checks out and your rhymes are dope enough then the police start unholstering their guns

Offline Nel

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #30 on: July 16, 2013, 09:17:25 PM »
Yet another awesome release by them. When I ripped the CD into iTunes, I combined all the suites into single tracks (Ballet, Better End Soon, Prelude-Mourning-Memory Of Love).

And it has "25 or 6 to 4", which alone is almost enough to make it essential.

Offline masterthes

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #31 on: July 16, 2013, 10:22:59 PM »
Ballet is probably my favorite work from Chicago

Online Big Hath

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #32 on: July 16, 2013, 10:35:46 PM »
this album is spectacular.  These guys were on fire, creatively.  And so much talent instrumentally as well as vocally.
Winger would be better!

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Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #33 on: July 16, 2013, 11:35:32 PM »
I love "Colour My World".  It is so beautiful!

Guess I'm gonna have to get this album, too.  Glad tomorrow is payday and Amazon's got them cheap.   :tup  Thanks so much for your hard work, Orbert!

Edit:  $4.99 plus auto-rip digital copy.  Yay!
« Last Edit: July 16, 2013, 11:42:08 PM by sueño »
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Offline The Letter M

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #34 on: July 16, 2013, 11:55:00 PM »
Been spinning the second album in my car over the last couple days as I ride around on my commutes. GREAT music on here, especially "25 Or 6 To 4", as well as all the suites. Definitely one of my favorites, and I think, still a bit better than their debut! I shall be following this thread at least through XI (with the exception of IX, which I believe is a compilation anyway).

-Marc.
ATTENTION - I am currently taking a hiatus from running any Survivors at the moment,
 but feel free to check out others' that are running in the Polls/Survivors Forum!!! Maybe in the coming months, I'll start up again with a different band if there is interest...