The Chicago Transit Authority (Remastered)

The Chicago Transit Authority (Remastered)

Nowadays, Chicago (the band) seems almost as much a part of the American landscape as Chicago (the city). At the dawn of their career, though, the group had a lot to prove. Long before they became reliable hit-makers, the Chicago Transit Authority (the septet’s original name) served up genre-crossing jams with a daring disregard for convention. CTA’s 1969 debut testifies to the band’s initial brilliance, matching a Stan Kenton-like brass attack with gutsy blues-rock. Though the two-disc album was meant to be a total-immersion experience, certain tracks especially shine. “Listen,” for instance, moves to a funky strut, with Terry Kath’s guitar pyrotechnics framed by punchy horn riffs. “Liberation” shows off the ensemble in full improvisational mode, bursting into cacophonous free jazz before descending into more subdued passages. The band acknowledges their city’s infamous 1968 riots with the ominous “Someday.” But for the most part, engaging tunes like “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” and “Beginnings” are more philosophical than confrontational. It’s the music here that speaks the loudest – and, overall, the “authority” part of the band’s name is appropriate. CTA convincingly asserts itself on this still-impressive first effort.

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