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

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

André Andersen - Changing Skin – Anderson is the keyboardist of Royal Hunt, a progressive metal band from Denmark that released the album Paradox on Magna Carta a couple years ago (and four more on other labels before that). The...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues