Exposé Online banner

Chicago Transit Authority — Chicago Transit Authority
(Columbia GP 8, 1969, 2LP)

by Mike McLatchey, Published 2017-05-25

Chicago Transit Authority Cover art

Progressive rock is often considered a European phenomenon, at least in its symphonic sense, but if you look at it from its birthplace in the 60s, where nearly every genre experienced a psychedelic revolution after all the doors between them broke down, then the great Chicago Transit Authority has to be one of the true American originals. The band's fluency with rock, soul, jazz, and the blues helped them blend all these influences into one of the great sounds of the 70s, starting on this double album debut, which had a subtle and yet strong influence from the Mothers of Invention. This was the beginning of their rise to popularity. It had hits like their cover of "I'm a Man" and Robert Lamm's "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It is?" and "Beginnings," platforms to jam out on with "South California Purples," an avant-garde guitar workout with "Free Form Guitar" and jazzier, more progressive written work like "Liberation" and "Poem 58." It was the first of a few double albums by a large band, which becomes increasingly more impressive when you realized they were on the road with very few breaks. I grew up with a lot of these songs on the radio, but it wasn't until the reissue of Live at Carnegie Hall in a box set (which I've covered elsewhere) where early Chicago became a huge favorite of mine, and their albums probably take up a substantial chunk of my listening in the last decade. This band could play circles around nearly everyone at the time and while, deservedly, Terry Kath seems to be getting his due as one of the greatest guitar players who ever lived, it would be nice to see drummer Danny Seraphine get his due as well because in many ways it was the two of them that locked it down for everyone else. This is one of the great debuts in rock music, a sound that was a little bit grittier than the next few studios to come.


Filed under: New releases, 1969 releases

Related artist(s): Chicago

Latest news

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Antiklimax - Plus loin vers l'est – Antiklimax is the name given to the keyboard endeavors of Frenchman Vincent Benesy. This CD is the result of five years' work focusing on many Euro film based ideas as impetus to funky compositions...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues