"Hey, this is a pretty solid album so far, I'm really enjoying it. I sure hope they don't do something stupid like put in a seven-minute-long track of a single screeching, cringe-inducing guitar halfway through."
The Chicago Transit Authority is the debut album by the Chicago-based rock band Chicago (then known as Chicago Transit Authority). It was recorded and released in 1969 and became a sleeper hit, reaching number 17 on the Billboard 200 by 1971 and spawning several successful singles, including "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?", "Questions 67 and 68" and "Beginnings". The album stayed on the Billboard chart for 171 weeks, beating the previous record for a rock album's longevity of 155 weeks and has been certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). For this inaugural recording effort the group was nominated for a Grammy Award for 1969 Best New Artist of the Year. The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014.
"Hey, this is a pretty solid album so far, I'm really enjoying it. I sure hope they don't do something stupid like put in a seven-minute-long track of a single screeching, cringe-inducing guitar halfway through."
Extraordinary album. Can't believe I've never heard this before now. I thought Chicago were a soft rock group. Not on this evidence, a very different well crafted album.
Is this the whitest album ever made? ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES.
“Chicago Transit Authority” by Chicago (1969) (Alert: What follows is not a critical review. It’s more of a prose ode. Sorry, but I get carried away talking about how much I love my baby, oo-wah, oo-wah.) This debut double album starts off (the aptly titled “Introduction”) as enticing jazz, with a (smallish) big band flavor, teasing the ears with unconventional chords, rhythms, tempo shifts, and meter, heavy with improvisational bass and wildly expressive percussion. But the horns are both deft and and powerful—wonderfully synchronized, from the initial ensemble groove to the soulful jazz trombone, trumpet, and electric guitar solos. And it only gets better from there. One can imagine first time listeners taking a deep breath and softly exclaiming, “Whoa!” The confidently discordant piano solo intro to the next song (the hit single “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”) has been sadly removed from airplay versions the song. The ‘hit’ version intro is actually a transition. This album is much better than the singles. Nevertheless, the hit version cut still stands as a brilliant example of pop/rock jazz fusion, despite its inane lyrics. By the prophetic third track (“Only the Beginning”), the listener is comfortable, pleading to be taken where Chicago is going, and it’s only the beginning of the journey in more ways than one. One can’t help but embrace the classic extended outro. Turn it up, then turn it up again, then turn it up one more time. Cowbell, claves, and wood block never sounded so welcoming. And then it’s time to turn the record over. And cook. (Listeners who ‘stacked’ the LPs, listening to sides one and three before flipping both discs to hear sides two and four were missing the perfectly arranged flow.) The natural fade on the last note of “Questions 67 and 68” is captivating. And Terry Kath’s guitar playing on “Listen”, “Poem”, and “Free Form Guitar” (with no pedals!) prompted Jimi Hendrix to say “He’s better than me.” That’s not an urban legend. “Poem 58” inspired generations of university lab bands for its innovation and virtuosity. And while most people can do without “Free Form Guitar”, that would be a mistake. It’s a masterful demonstration of the studio interplay between electric guitar and amplifier that would influence rock and roll forever. No wonder Hendrix was impressed. Terry (“the gun actually was loaded”) Kath and Jimi (“should I try to do some more?”) Hendrix both left us too soon. Damn. The blues band styled “South California Purples” is well executed, with excellent lead vocal by keyboardist Robert Lamm. But on “I’m a Man”, the pot nearly boils over. The first 1:19 always gives me goose bumps. What. A. Groove. And the percussion interlude from 3:08-5:28 outclasses Iron Butterfly’s Ron Bushy (“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” ) in so many ways. I dare you to air drum it. Side four is an improvisational delight, perfectly punctuated by the (uncredited) belch at 0:19 on the fourteen-minute closing track, “Liberation”. Chicago then proceeds to blaze away into the sunset. If you can’t fall in love with this album, there’s something wrong with you. 5/5
I guess when this band got together, they were feeling a little... horny ;)
Lifeless soul. Or funk. Or whatever. Any way up, it's ersatz shit.
This was a revelation, awesome guitar playing paired with some brass/orchestral sounds paired with some prog experiments produce a album that is long but doesn't fail to amaze. Enjoyable and catchy songs that finish with a 14 minute epic, what's not to love?
I'd heard a bunch of these singles before, turns out they're all like five minutes longer than I was used to hearing. The back half of this album is absolutely insane. What a gem!
Wow, this was crazy, I thought I knew Chicago. This was almost Hendrix like in places. Really interesting album.
It's a bit leaden When the horns and a bit of funk come through it improves, but halfway through, and my abiding memory is that a track called introduction should not last six minutes, unless it's a sodding warning. They love a good bit of noodling. Questions is quite good (but would be better 2 minutes shorter still.) Free Form guitar is the most extended act of masturbation this side of Porn Hub, except you know nobody else is going to get any enjoyment out of it. I gave up before the live tracks, because frankly it was bad enough before that. Been a while since I've hit one star, but honestly, this was an hour wasted, and this now becomes seventh in my hall of shame.
Really great album. Great straight up rock songs, but the addition of a powerful brass section adds a cool flair to many of them. Then there’s those free form jams that are interesting. Really great stuff. Favorite Track(s): “Introduction,” “Listen,” “Poem 58,” and “I’m A Man”
They had me at Chicago! This album is an introduction to to amazing talent of a band homegrown in the USA! Transit AC shows how truly talented the artists were before their explosion into stardom. The instruments played cover a wide spectrum of cow bell to trombone. I can honestly say they grew leaps and bounds after this album...25 or 6 to 4..... Name a band today that has vocal, drummer, trumpet keyboard, brass, guitar and cowbell to boot! Loved Beginning, Q’s 67 & 68, I’m a Man& Introduction. Jim, I never knew you were the original “More Cowbell” guy?! Chicago goes on to become a legend in their own time. “Does anyone Really Know What time it is”.
Loving the remastered songs!
What a way to end a really good week of music! We grew up with a lot of the Chicago hits, including "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is," but I've never listened to an album from them before. This is not what I expected but really impressive! Virtuosic, exploratory instrumental work all around, a lot less traditional song structure than I anticipated. Dare I say experimental? "Free Form Guitar" is absolutely melting my brain. And the sample of the chanting at the 1968 DNC, there's just so much going on here. If you heard this for the first time in '69, what kind of band or music would you even think this is? Learning the lore too, that this was the original band name until they received a cease and desist from the actual CTA. The Grammys giving them best new artist was probably one of the few times they got an award right. And of course, I have to mention Uncle Jim on the trombone. I think it's really cool that he actually wrote the last two songs on this album. This is really great. Favorite tracks: Free Form Guitar, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is, Listen, Liberation, Someday. Album art: Love this. I've always admired that Chicago was consistent with their font/lettering on all their album covers. This one has the added charm of appearing painted on wood. The colors really pop, the framing is excellent. Proud of you guys. 4.5/5
Great stuff! Really experimental guitar, great vocals. Didn’t quite key into any sort of story, but fantastic overall.
Pretty out there, like a mad jazz funk soul fusion, but with other styles too, rock influence in parts. Weirdly enjoyable though, clearly really talented musicians, a whole range of genres of tracks and they bossed them all. Gotta be worth a 3/5, not quite a 4,some tracks were just covers.
More rock than I had expected with my little knowledge of their later soft pop career.
might have been a 4/5 if they had decided to leave out Free Form Guitar
Something about this music makes me think of San Francisco. I'm not sure why because I love(d) SF and I hate this album. The horns were a novelty and I really liked them for the first track and-a-half. As the album progressed and we go to the Poem 58 and Free Form Guitar, this album had burned all my excitement for it. I'm all for experimentation, but these two tracks were terrible and proved nothing. The Byrds did some experimentation with Moog Raga that was far superior to this garbage. I was kind of excited to listen to pre-Cetera Chicago because I knew they had changed a lot and really weren't the same band that I knew in the 80's. However, by the end of this album my disappointment had turned to anger coming to the realization this was just shitty jam band music with horns.
Fuck yeah, Chicago
Fantastic album great use of blues, horns, lots of a cool sounds . I'm a guitarist but free form seemed a little bit wanky. Weakest track but still killer.
Whoa. Unlike many of their albums, this one isn't hit or miss. Just great.
Pretty sure I'm going to like this more than I used to like Chicago. Really cool. Some of it got a little jam bandy, but really liked the horns in the band and it being lest soft rock than the later Chicago.
Incredible album front to back.
-Great jazz rock, the bass and drums are jamming quite frequently -I always like adding orchestra elements to rock, and this has lots of horns and stuff added in -I like bassline on "Listen." Probably other too, but I happened to notice "Listen."
Loved this. Great groove. Favourite track was Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
It's a catchy album and it starts off that way from the beginning of the first song and continues with hits like "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is," and "I'm a Man." A wonderful mixture of rock and jazz with the instrumentals, and the variety of vocals, gives the album a lot of range.
- Strong vocals and love the musical style - Great range and quality. - 'Does anybody really know what time it is", "Questions 67 and 68" and "Prologue" all got likes.
Crazy stuff on this album, especially impressive that the horns sound almost too good to be real. Also wasn’t expecting that guitar track. 9
Really love most of the songs! Will be listening to from now on.
Wow. Really noodly, horns. I love it.
5/5 - Fun, pre-fall album
A really impressive album equal parts big band jazz, hard rock, including some screaming guitars, some gorgeous melodies and an impressive collection of songs that show this band began as a fully formed band. And it ROCKS HARD! Case in point the impressive cover of Spencer Davis Group's I'm a Man. A very impressive debut that shocked me how good it is. Despite some moments of self indulgence like the album closer "Liberation", I'm giving it 5 🌟
Outstanding first album. When Chicago was Chicago!
Ok this rips
Fedt album! Desværre ødelægger Free guitar form albummets flow. Tæt på perfekt og fede soloer og lækker jazz rock
1969 Grammy Awards, Best New Artist nominees included CSN, Chicago, Zeppelin.
Whooo that album kicks off with a bang and just doesn’t stop. What a great and unique sound. Killer!
Brilliant debut album! One of my favorites from an innovative group of musicians.
¡Qué discazo! Y lo mejor es que no trae ninguna de esas que se quemaron en la radio, sino (para mí) pura rareza que demuestra que tienen de todo (voces, metales, guitarras, bajos y percusiones) para sonar como lo mejor de su época. Cierto, hay un momento en "Free Form Guitar" en el que se pasan un poco (nada que no se escuche en un en vivo de Metallica) pero eso no desmerece el resto del disco que en verdad podría (y eso hice hoy) tener todo el día en loop.
Me siento como lo que pasó con Boston pero potenciado. Yo siempre tuve a Chicago en un rubro de "soft rock" que estaba entre decente y somnifero para mis gustos. Supongo que nunca escuche sus primeros discos (o al menos este primero), pero no se como nadie me había recomendado este disco antes. Jazz progresivo de la cosa más interesante, rock sesentero experimental, un poema, siete minutos de golpear las cuerdas y jugar con un amplificador. Es un disco variadísimo, sin ninguna canción floja a pesar de la enorme variedad que ofrece. Siento que quiero escuchar bastante más Chicago, probalmente caiga en un año en el que me empiezan a dejar de llamar la atención y sus discos se convierten más en ese soft rock en el que los tenía, pero esto vale y revale la pena.
5.5…remember when t came out, rather unique at the time…I’m a huge brass fan so this album was special ..have been a Chicago fan ever since….excellent
Me senti andando nas ruas de Nova York (apesar da banda se chamar "Chicago"), fazendo dança sincronizada com as pessoas à minha volta. Ou seja, fantástico.
Really like this album. Quite free form Jazz/Rock stuff with great brass and drums. Didn’t like the track “Freeform Guitar” much, too experimental jazz style but others all very good, listened to it twice. Maëla also like it:)
CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC album. By and large, really great stuff. Could have done without "Free Form Guitar". A1
Loved it, some classics
i liked how this was released in 1969, arguably the funniest year of the 20th century
Great album start to finish.
Excelente álbum! Conhecia só as baladas da banda, muito bom saber mais. Gostei muito, quero ouvir mais o álbum e apreciar melhor. Melhores músicas: Poem 58 e I'm a man.
Always a good album to come to. It drips 70s, but in a good way (yes I know it was released in 1969). Besides the songs that were hits, “Liberation “ has to be mentioned as an amazing track. A tour de force, really. “Free Form Guitar,” um… yeah. Guess you had to be there. Solid album, all the way through. The first few Chicago albums are really good stuff, I really recommend them.
This is great, a perfect balance of pop appeal, sophisticated composition, and avant-garde experiments. Some nostalgic value for me too, as my Dad had some Chicago records that he would play sometimes when I was a kid.
I’d only ever heard the hits before (Time, Beginnings, Questions), and they’re truly great songs. But holy cow, the rest of this record is so damn good. I would have never chosen to listen to this but for this list, this is a great example of why this is a fun exercise: discovering music that’s been right in front of me all along. Vocals, brass, guitar,… all blend and shine through individually at times.
What an album. I love the intensity, power and played with precise timing and tightness. Terry Kath.. Wow he's spectacular on this album , sadly he was never given as much space as he was on this album. My favorite Chicago album.
Introduction - 10/10 Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? - 10/10 Beginnings - 9/10 Questions 67 and 68 - 10/10 Listen - 10/10 Poem 58 - 9/10 Free Form Guitar - 6/10 South California Purples - 10/10 I'm a Man - 10/10 Prologue - 9/10 Someday - 10/10 Liberation - 10/10
Jedan od onih jebate u što se ovo pretvorilo bendova
Better than I remember. The horns and virtuoso guitar make this a great album to listen to anytime.
I'd give this a 4.5, it wouldn't sit in my all-time favorite albums but it's a great album with quite a few recognizable hits over 50 years later.
More jazzy than I expected, but still great
This album was different than anything else at the time.
starts with a bang, making its intentions clear: strap in boys and girls this is going to be a wild journey and it absolutely delivered. almost lost me with the free form guitar but pulled me straight back in with the punchy bass line on listen.
This is how I like my Chicago, not the stuff they did in the '80s. Of course I've heard (and loved) the songs on this album that showed up on their Greatest Hits compilations, but it was great to hear some new-to-me songs in that same style.
One of my all time favorites. Automatic 5. I will enjoy the entire day listening to this gem. Greatest use of a sample ever on Someday.
I get what old heads mean when they say they don’t make music like this anymore
I’ve never listened to this debut album before, having mostly been familiar with Chicago’s greatest hits compilations until the 80s when I owned a couple of their cassettes. This is definitely Chicago, with a few little surprises. This album is funkier and bluesier in places than I expected. The guitar work gets heavy in the middle. I’m not sure I love the degree to which they take it in Free Form Guitar. It sounds quite skilled if not particularly pleasant or melodic. I can’t imagine I’ll sit through that song in its entirety again. Ready access to the skip track button would have been a good reason to get this on CD as soon as the tech was available… Other than that quibble, I loved the album!
Love the bluesy, hornsy sound of this band. Some of the songs go on too long (I had to stop Free Form Guitar and come back later), but great to hear the origins of some very familiar songs.
I'd never listened to this whole album before, so this was a great experience. As a casual Chicago fan over the past decades, it was great to experience their first work and hear where they came from. Several songs are ones that have always been in the background of my life's soundtrack, but I am glad to give them more attention. I appreciate its experimental, "lets try this!" feeling, which works more often than not. The sounds that really worked are the sounds that continued through their later work. ("Free Form Guitar" is simply unbearable, but we're going to chalk that up to a time when seven minutes of guitar noise seemed like something that was worth trying. Win some, lose some.) In any case, the rock-jazz monster that is Chicago is magnificent! I am compelled to continue to follow their albums and connect the dots of my favorite songs of theirs.
What a great rock album, while I didn't really enjoy the track "Free Form Guitar", the rest of the album was stunning. 5/5. Favorite Track: Questions 67 and 68
Such and awesome blend of jazz and rock. One of my favorite bands
The horns, combined with Terry Kathy’s phenomenal guitar work, just make this album a great debut My favorite Chicago album…
Who doesn't like Chicago?! Classic
tässä on kaikkea... on kitaraa... rumpuja löytyy.... bassoa on...torvia... ja lauletaankin välillä... mitässitä muuta tarvitsrstee... tsigago...heh.. welcome to chicago.... heh....kitaran vängyttämistä ois voinut olla enemmänkin.. mitä kaikki valittaa taas... SUATANA POPPIA VETÄNÄ... ei aina tartte... poem 58
That was some of the proggiest funk I've ever laid ears upon.
Incredible album! Just recently listened to this whole thing! Still enjoyed it the second time around! Pavement is such a great band,, so many incredible albums as well as this one!
Jazz-rock sesentero. Vinilo.
One of my favorite albums of all time. Great songwriting and arrangements. Robert Lamm particularly shines with his fine vocal performances on numerous tracks. Additionally, you will rarely here Terry Kath as featured in the songs or as adventurous as is playing is on this record.
Oooo the pre-pop days of Chicago. Great band.
Amazing & classic!
First of all, the latter half of the album talking about the civil rights movement is pretty great, but the whole album was just really really good jazzy rock.
An amazing first album from CTA/Chicago. Possibly the best album they ever made. Rich and vibrant, jazzy, horn-laden sound. A little jammy, but in all the right ways. I love the older albums with Terry Kath playing mind-bending guitar and the shared vocals between Kath and Peter Cetera. There's a soulfulness and grit here that is absent from the band's later work. There is so much nuance and care in every single song, with something new to appreciate each time I hear it. "Free Form Guitar" is a little bonkers, and "Liberation" is waaaay too long. But when the band gets it right, it's stunningly good. Fave Songs (All songs, from most to least favorite): Beginnings, Questions 67 and 68; Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?; I'm a Man; Introduction; Listen; South California Purples; Poem 58; Liberation; Someday (August 29, 1968); Prologue, August 29, 1968; Free Form Guitar
I listen to a lot of Jazz-Rock/Jazz-Fusion/etc. but this one is just so impressive like one of the coolest albums I’ve heard all year - 10/10
Amazing, experimental, incredible that this was from Chicago.
Man, would've loved to see these guys back when they sounded like this. Great musicians.
Favorite Song(s): I'm a Man, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? Overall a really strong debut album for the Chicago Transit Authority. Lot of bops that I would put on my playlists, and a couple songs I can forget but not every song in an album can be a banger. I could be a bit biased though as a trombone player as I love hearing horns in general.
a true classic
I love Chicago when they're at their best. They're not always at their best here, but the foundation is there. I wish somebody would have been around to tell them to cut the bullshit (looking at you, Free Form Guitar). Best track: Listen
decent chill vibes. would listen again . intentionally. reason for 4 is last few songs were heavy guitar work . not my vibe. only the fast jazzy kind thing i like
Dat saxophone tho
I had assumptions about this band, and I was wrong. This album slaps for a horn-driven album. Free Form Guitar was a bit much, but I get it.
Awesome jazz/rock big band.
Incredible musicianship, but also pretty fun. They seem to be really luxuriating in playing together. Makes me miss playing music in a band with other people. Nice brass. Free Form Guitar is badass.