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Chicago Transit Authority

289 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 16, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Their audacious debut double album from 1969 featured the hits Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?; Questions 67 & 68 , and I'm a Man .

Having morphed--some would argue devolved--into a predictable ballad machine by the '80s, it's good to be reminded of Chicago's original artistic ethos and vibrant promise. And what better place to start than their spectacular 1969 debut? This digitally remastered edition compiles the double album on a single disc that retains the original LP artwork and features a 16-page booklet with a retrospective essay (based on new band member interviews) by David Wild. Chicago weren't yet the '70s hit-singles factory they would shortly become, and CTA showcases a band whose muscular musicianship and creative restlessness fostered two LPs worth of music that was as aggressive and far-ranging as its singles were friendly and inviting. Tellingly, the hits showcased here--"Does Anybody Know What Time It Is?" "Beginnings," "Questions 67 and 68," and their rhythmically pumped cover of the Spencer Davis Group's "I'm a Man"--were often edited down from the original collection's suite-heavy structure. But those familiar cuts belie the downright progressive and angular nature of much of the rest, which fuses Terry Kath's neo-psychedelic guitar (which careens to noisy, feedback-laden Hendrixesque extremes on "Free Form Guitar") to one of rock's pioneering horn sections with enough experimentalism ("Poem 58") that it frequently overwhelms their undeniable genius with a pop song. Chicago would seldom sound so adventurous after this, one of rock's greatest debut albums. --Jerry McCulley

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 16, 2002)
  • Original Release Date: 1969
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rhino
  • ASIN: B000069KGM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (289 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,527 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 111 people found the following review helpful By N. D. A. Grie on April 15, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Few bands in history have produced a greater quantity of banal pop music than Chicago, so it's always a shock to play this album and remember just how cutting edge they were, how confident, brash and aggressive they sounded, in their first release. Few albums can boast as many outstanding performances as "Chicago Transit Authority", or "CTA", and with the exception of the Beatles, no band I know of ever boasted three lead singers as fine as Terry Kath, Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera.
"Beginnings" features a great vocal by Robert, lots of 7th chords, a gradually emerging latin beat, and fantastic trombone and trumpet solos. "South California Purples", uses long fade-in, fade-out brass notes, laid down on top of the power blues bass. "Poem 58" is a guitar tour de force by Terry morphing into a rousing, sexy, blues love song. Check out the intro by Terry, joined by Peter's bass rising into the fray, my favorite moment on the album. "I'm a Man" features all three singers strutting their stuff in succession to a jumpy, twitchy layer of percussion, putting even the fine version sung by Steve Winwood and the Spencer Davis Group into the dustbin of history. "Questions 67 and 68" is perfect power-pop. These are just my favorites, but there isn't a bad cut on here.
In 1969 Blood Sweat and Tears had the hit singles and the grammys, but this was the horn band with the most guts and impact, and was the true musical and spiritual descendent of the original Al Kooper-led BST of 1967. Much, but not all of it still sounds youthful and fresh 34 years after its release. By 1972 Chicago had hit rock bottom (of musical significance, not the charts), but in this original recording, they earned the right to appropriate the name of the city that was their home.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By t'amant on April 17, 2006
Format: Audio CD
AND HERE IT IS - ONE OF THE GREATEST ALBUMS AN AMERICAN BAND HAS EVER CREATED (in my opinion). Listen (yes there is a song on here by that name) to Terry Kath's ferocious guitar work throughout. This dude would have gone into spontaneous combustion without that outlet I think! He can sing too, and with so much soul...what an asset to the band. And he had better be with Daniel Seraphine's whirlwind power drumming and Peter Cetera on bass, this combo moved musical mountains by force of will (all could sing well, but Cetera was the harmony master it seems, check out the synergistic energy these young dudes could pull together, WOW). I guess Robert Lamm was often in the lead vocalist spot along with keyboard duties, but they all shared the spotlight nicely, his voice and songwriting are classic early Chicago. What would Chicago be without the signature horn section dynamics (fade in/outs, precision staccato explosions of sound, harmonic counterpoint), they do it all with such power and style. This recording had an inordinate influence on the music world, and rock world especially. There is a very progressive influence here, American style. The whole big band type of horn section mixed with acid rock was ground-breaking, and many tried to do their thing with it later to less success generally. Worth mentioning are the intense contemplative lyrics on many topics, metaphysical and otherwise, that (from the story I remember) got the real transit authority to request a distancing name change. This band was pretty revolutionary in every way. Jimi Hendrix even allegedly stated that Kath was better than him (somewhat modestly, I'm sure Kath would humbly disagree). If you are looking for a new classic album to absorb, you can't go wrong with this one - IT ROCKS BIG TIME!Read more ›
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Louie Bourland on February 18, 2005
Format: Audio CD
When most people think of Chicago nowadays, the first thing that usually comes to mind is those lovely Peter Cetera-sung ballads and catchy upbeat pop tunes. However, before the ballads and before the big hits, Chicago was a giant seven-headed monster brewing with new innovative musical ideas with a solid 'jam-band' sensibility.

Released in 1969, Chicago's self-titled debut album, "Chicago Transit Authority" (the band's original name) displays the band on-fire with a number of extended musical numbers. Tracks such as "Introduction", "Poem 58", "South California Purples", the cover of Spencer Davis's "I'm A Man" and the closing 15-minute instrumental "Liberation" all showcase solid group interplay with the band's three-piece horn section and Terry Kath's stinging lead guitar taking center stage most of the time.

Although the album initially didn't generate any hit singles at the time of its release, several years later, many of the songs did get released as singles and have since become Chicago classics. The swinging "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" (presented here in its full version complete with a two minute solo piano improvisation) and the band's now-signature tune "Beginnings" (also presented in full here, clocking in at 8-minutes) are tracks that long-time fans associate with Chicago and are still standards that the band performs live today. "Questions 67 and 68" was also a minor hit from the album and introduced Peter Cetera's high soaring vocals to the world.

"Chicago Transit Authority" is a solid group effort from start to finish and all seven band members get a chance to shine with plently of space here. However, if there is one musician from the band that truly stands out among the rest here, it would have to be guitarist/singer Terry Kath.
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Chicago Transit Authority
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