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Chicago Transit Authority

Chicago

1969

Chicago Transit Authority

Album Summary

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.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.19

Votes

5231

Genres

  • Rock
Reviews
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Thu Feb 04 2021
5

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.

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Wed Jul 28 2021
3

I guess when this band got together, they were feeling a little... horny ;)

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Fri Sep 24 2021
3

"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."

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Tue Feb 22 2022
1

Is this the whitest album ever made? ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES.

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Wed Jun 22 2022
1

Lifeless soul. Or funk. Or whatever. Any way up, it's ersatz shit.

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Thu Sep 09 2021
5

“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” [1968]) 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

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Wed Feb 24 2021
5

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”

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Mon Mar 29 2021
5

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”.

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Tue Mar 09 2021
5

Loving the remastered songs!

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Sun Jan 09 2022
5

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?

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Fri Feb 11 2022
5

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!

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Mon Mar 29 2021
4

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

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Thu Dec 16 2021
4

Great stuff! Really experimental guitar, great vocals. Didn’t quite key into any sort of story, but fantastic overall.

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Wed Jun 30 2021
3

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.

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Sat Dec 18 2021
3

More rock than I had expected with my little knowledge of their later soft pop career.

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Mon Feb 07 2022
1

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.

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Tue Feb 08 2022
1

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.

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Sun Apr 25 2021
5

Fuck yeah, Chicago

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Sun Mar 07 2021
5

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.

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Wed Apr 14 2021
5

peak Chicago?

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Mon Jun 07 2021
5

Jazz-rock sesentero.

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Sat Feb 13 2021
5

Whoa. Unlike many of their albums, this one isn't hit or miss. Just great.

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Fri Apr 09 2021
5

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.

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Thu May 13 2021
5

Incredible album front to back.

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Fri Jun 04 2021
5

-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."

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Wed May 26 2021
5

Loved this. Great groove. Favourite track was Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

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Tue Jul 06 2021
5

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.

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Mon Jul 05 2021
5

- 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.

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Tue Aug 10 2021
5

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

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Sun Aug 22 2021
5

Really love most of the songs! Will be listening to from now on.

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Wed Sep 22 2021
5

Wow. Really noodly, horns. I love it.

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Thu Sep 23 2021
5

5/5 - Fun, pre-fall album

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Fri Sep 24 2021
5

very good

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Fri Oct 22 2021
5

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 🌟

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Mon Nov 08 2021
5

Outstanding first album. When Chicago was Chicago!

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Sun Nov 14 2021
5

Ok this rips

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Wed Nov 24 2021
5

Fedt album! Desværre ødelægger Free guitar form albummets flow. Tæt på perfekt og fede soloer og lækker jazz rock

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Tue Nov 30 2021
5

1969 Grammy Awards, Best New Artist nominees included CSN, Chicago, Zeppelin.

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Tue Nov 30 2021
5

Whooo that album kicks off with a bang and just doesn’t stop. What a great and unique sound. Killer!

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Tue Nov 30 2021
5

Brilliant debut album! One of my favorites from an innovative group of musicians.

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Fri Dec 10 2021
5

¡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.

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Fri Dec 10 2021
5

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.

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Mon Dec 13 2021
5

great

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Tue Feb 15 2022
5

02/14/2022

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Sat Feb 19 2022
5

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

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Sat Feb 26 2022
5

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.

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Mon Mar 07 2022
5

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:)

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Wed Mar 30 2022
5

CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC album. By and large, really great stuff. Could have done without "Free Form Guitar". A1

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Wed Mar 30 2022
5

Loved it, some classics

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Fri May 06 2022
5

10/10

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Sat May 14 2022
5

i liked how this was released in 1969, arguably the funniest year of the 20th century

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Fri Jun 03 2022
5

Great album start to finish.

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Tue Jun 21 2022
5

Grooving hard

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Fri Jul 01 2022
5

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.

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Wed Jul 06 2022
5

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.

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Sun Jul 10 2022
5

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.

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Mon Jul 18 2022
5

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.

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Tue Aug 02 2022
5

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

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Wed Aug 17 2022
5

Jedan od onih jebate u što se ovo pretvorilo bendova

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Tue Aug 23 2022
5

loved it

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Wed Aug 31 2022
5

Better than I remember. The horns and virtuoso guitar make this a great album to listen to anytime.

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Sat Sep 10 2022
5

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.

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Thu Sep 15 2022
5

More jazzy than I expected, but still great

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Tue Oct 04 2022
5

This album was different than anything else at the time.

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Sun Oct 16 2022
5

amazing!!

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Fri Nov 04 2022
5

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.

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Mon Sep 14 2020
4

a true classic

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Sat Jun 05 2021
4

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

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Sun Apr 25 2021
4

Wow, this was crazy, I thought I knew Chicago. This was almost Hendrix like in places. Really interesting album.

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Thu Jan 21 2021
4

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

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Sat Jan 30 2021
4

Dat saxophone tho

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Thu Jan 21 2021
4

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.

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Fri Mar 12 2021
4

Awesome jazz/rock big band.

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Tue Feb 16 2021
4

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.

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Wed Mar 10 2021
4

Such great singers and guitar players. Absolute classic. Some of the guitar solos went on for a little too long IMHO, like the last song is 14 min long, that’s a bit.

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Mon Jan 25 2021
4

Excellent rock. Meh jazz. Superior songwriting.

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Wed Mar 10 2021
4

Don't know why I slept on this one. So good!

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Tue Feb 02 2021
4

Lovely. I'll have to pull this out again

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Sat Apr 03 2021
4

Quite Chicago-y.

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Mon Jan 25 2021
4

Long songs toward the end, but I like Chicago. Also sick guitar tones for solos.

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Tue Feb 02 2021
4

This is nice. Sounds like 60s cool city big band music. Nostalgic, like this is what they are listening to on Sesame Street.

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Wed Feb 24 2021
4

Excellent blend of jazz and rock. Overall very solid album even if it was a bit long and had a couple weaker tracks.

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Thu Mar 18 2021
4

Amazing drums and horns. Not thrilled with the vocals. Will listen again.

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Thu Jan 28 2021
4

Música de qualidade, exceto Free Form Guitar que é um pouco exagerada

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Mon Mar 29 2021
4

Well well well. If it isn’t our family’s band. I don’t need to go into that history as I’m sure many of us are aware, but this album was fantastic. Does anybody really know what time it is is one of my favorite Chicago songs and the rest of this album was just great. I loved the intro song and one towards the end even had the soundbites from the protests that were shown in Trial of the Chicago 7. There is a magic to this band, with the trumpets and guitars and singing. Perfect for the late 60’s but also incredibly timeless. This album cover is basic but also classic as well. I never had heard this one before, I usually listened to the hits but I’m glad to see that even their lesser known songs are great.

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Wed Jun 09 2021
4

This was ace. Similar to maggot brain

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Wed Jun 09 2021
4

Surprisingly excellent

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Mon May 10 2021
4

.

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Tue May 25 2021
4

A heady cocktail of fuzzy overdrive rock and roll mixed with jazz style arrangements. The album takes a little time to catch fire but when it does it goes off like an explosion. Screeching guitars, brass and woodwind set against brilliant drums is a memorable experience and one that passes remarkably quickly for a double album. Will definitely revisit.

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Wed Jun 23 2021
4

Not what I expected from Chicago. I am more accustomed to their power ballady rock but this was much more interesting and introspective. Best track: "Beginnings"

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Sat Mar 06 2021
4

Gefällt mir, viel Energie, Rock, Blues - ggf. sogar jazzig. Wunderbar abwechslungsreich, wandert auf meine Playliste.

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Wed Feb 24 2021
4

Very good except the gitaren zonder snaren

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Wed Mar 24 2021
4

Nice mix of instrumental jazz tracks and pop songs. Not a big fan of brass in general, but good stuff.

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Wed Jun 30 2021
4

GOOD ONE

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Sun May 02 2021
4

Very jazzy and great listen

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Tue May 11 2021
4

I know this album well. I listen to it often. Can't go wrong with Chicago.

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Tue Jun 29 2021
4

Front half is loaded with the classics, back half is a bunch of guitar driven groovy jams

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Wed May 12 2021
4

Very good to great. Some vocals/lyrics don't really do it for me but musically outstanding. Great percussion/brass/and lots of guitar

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Fri Jul 02 2021
4

Surprised! Nor bad.

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Sun Aug 01 2021
4

What a great sound. Love this album.

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Wed Aug 04 2021
4

Discazo todo pero además Poem 58 muy por encima de todo

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Tue Aug 10 2021
4

8/10. This is definitely on the jazzy side of jazz-rock, in that it really just felt like jazz with some guitars thrown in. The singing was probably the biggest thing holding it back for me, as the lyrics and delivery just felt emotionless when they were present. But, I was also listening to this at work and didn't get the opportunity for a super close listen.

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Tue Aug 10 2021
4

Quite good, bit too much of the funky dissonant guitar for my tastes. The vocals and most of the instrumentals were excellent though, a solid 8

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Tue Aug 10 2021
4

pretty awesome album, the horn section is just crazy. i think it strayed into self-indulgence territory at parts but overall it was good 8/10

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Wed Aug 11 2021
4

I was surprised that this was their first album. Everything that seems to have come out in '69 was a total banger. Flailing Guitar, good flow, enjoyed it!

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Mon Aug 23 2021
4

2nd time around for me. 4/5. Great sound. Classic.

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Wed Sep 08 2021
4

Ballsy and bluesey

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Fri Sep 10 2021
4

Great instrumentals, vocals. White guys!?

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Fri Sep 17 2021
4

How is this not considered prog? Is it the lack of lyrics about wizards? Seems pretty darned proggy to me! (Which is not a dis) I mean, c'mon, "Free Form Guitar"! Anyway, yeah, this was a good listen - I don't think I've heard any of this before, with the possible exception of "I'm a Man", but it might have been the original I've heard. Fave track - "Someday (August 29, 1968)". Sad to think that basically nothing has changed...

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Fri Oct 01 2021
4

Had no idea Chicago was into experimentation in guitar work… the more you know!

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Thu Oct 07 2021
4

Blues rock. Un poco psicodélico.

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Sat Oct 09 2021
4

Far better than I imagined. Always thought it would be soft-rock nonsense but it's a fine listen.

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Mon Oct 18 2021
4

A big, brassy bruiser of an album. Sometimes political, sometimes spiritual, always up for the wiggy freakouts. This is not the MOR Chicago I remember. A much wilder prospect.

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Tue Oct 19 2021
4

Chicago - одна из первых рок-групп, широко использовавших духовые инструменты. Это их дебютный альбом. Понравились джемы: Free Form Guitar, Poem 58 и пр.

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Sun Nov 14 2021
4

Admittedly I put off listening to the record when it came up on my list. There is a nauseating sensation of 70s-80s soft rock that wells up in my esophagus based on my memories. It turns out this (era of the) band, with its bombastic brass section, rocks kinda hard, more inclined to Jimi Hendrix than I could have imagined. The "Free Form Guitar" acid jam helped reverse my whole perception of them. I can just see them trashing then instruments and setting the stage on fire, figuratively.

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Sun Nov 14 2021
4

Never heard of these before. Really like the jazz, rock and blues vibe mix throughout the album. Which flows very well. Very fun listen and easy to bop along to. Like: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" And "Point 58" Dislike: Free form Guitar

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Fri Nov 19 2021
4

Jazzy

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Mon Nov 22 2021
4

Some badass solos and bass work. Enjoyable album

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Fri Nov 26 2021
4

Surprisingly my first Chicago album and it slapped. Great stuff and fun playing

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Mon Nov 29 2021
4

nice mix of jazz and rock

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Fri Dec 03 2021
4

Super underrated, very solid

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Tue Dec 21 2021
4

nice jazzrock album that starts at jazz and ends on a seemingly improv rock instrumental.

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Tue Dec 28 2021
4

Amazing album. Didn't know they had an album as early as 1969.

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Tue Dec 28 2021
4

really nice, perfect background music

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Sun Jan 02 2022
4

Super surprising

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Sun Jan 02 2022
4

Psychedelic jazz? Not the Chicago that I was expecting.

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Fri Jan 28 2022
4

I could leave "person with guitar falls down stairs" but the rest of the album is great

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Wed Feb 23 2022
4

The definition "a rock band with horns" is only partially adequate, because the sonority of Chicago goes way beyond what you would expect from a rock and roll band, even in the late 60s. That said, all those horns can be a little too overwhelming.

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Fri Feb 25 2022
4

I actually recognized several of these songs from the radio. It's pretty good stuff, can't really complain. I loved that intro track, too!

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Sat Feb 26 2022
4

gostei da banda de rock and roll com chifres

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Mon Mar 07 2022
4

Otroligt bra???

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Mon Mar 07 2022
4

Genre: Jazz-Rock 4/5 Chicago's debut album, the then self-titled debut Chicago Transit Authority, is a really tremendous rock album. The heavy jazz influences, the soaring horns, the tremendous guitar playing, the soulful vocals, and some real expert drumming all combine to make one heck of an ensemble sound. This is a perfect blend of everything that made rock music cool in the 60s, and also serves as a tremendous starting point for the progression of symphonic rock. Songs like the Introduction, Beginnings, and the forever jam I'm a Man, are all prime examples of what I think are some of the best pop rock continuations of the late 60s, with Chicago's own unique jazzy spin. Then songs crop up like Free Form Guitar, takes on avant-garde rock and jazz, showcasing some true sonic variety. This album is a real triumph, and I think is something that can both be an accessible, enjoyable party listen, as well as a sit-down and make-you-think project. Damn good job from these guys on this one.

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Tue Mar 15 2022
4

A solidly great album. Solos were a little too long at points, and a few tracks lost me, but in general this was very enjoyable.

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Thu Mar 24 2022
4

Sometimes the feeling of appreciation reigned over the feeling of enjoyment. Overall, I liked the jazz/rock fusion that they had going on. I still am not into horns. Highlights: Beginnings, Questions 67 and 68, Someday.

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Sun Mar 27 2022
4

Première constatation, ça s'écoute mal en auto. Après une 2e écoute plus attentive, j'ai vraiment plus embarqué dans l'album. Ce n'est pas un superbe enregistrement, mais le remaster de 2002 et le remix de 2019 corrige un peu le tout, mais on ne peut pas corriger une mauvaise prise de son. Pour ce qui est des pièces, ça peut venir long par moment, mais j'ai entendu pire. Il y a tout de même plusieurs bonnes pièces accrocheuses. Je vais définitivement revenir à cet album et sûrement me le procurer. Pièces préférées: I'm A Man, Listen, Poem 58, Someday

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Sun Mar 27 2022
4

Cet album est excellent. Le groove est bon, les arrangement de brass sont efficaces et sophistiqués. Ça met la table pour Doobie Brothers et Blood Sweet & Tears. « Freeform guitar » c’est 5 minutes trop long, mais j’imagine qu’en 69, ça pouvait encore passer comme nouveau, même si Jimmy avait déjà joué dans ce film là.

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Wed Mar 30 2022
4

Groovy fun

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Sun Apr 03 2022
4

LP (l’avait avant)

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Thu Apr 07 2022
4

I wish more people (or at least younger people) knew how dope Terry Kath was.

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Fri Apr 08 2022
4

Chicago is a band I always associate with hits. I love over a dozen songs by them, but at most one from each album. But that can't be said about Chicago's first two albums. I failed to see why jazz rock never really took off. Between Chicago and Blood Sweat & Tears, there was potential for some great hits, and it was commercially very successful, although it was utilized better in later forms of rock in the 70s. This album is really impressive from all throughout, and this is coming from someone worried about that double-album length. "Introductions" is a bombastic display to entice you into the concept of the album, showing you the fun, groovy capabilities this album could have on pop audiences. This is followed up by two hits. The first is one of my favorite Chicago songs, "Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?" A beautiful pop masterpiece with carefree happy lyrics that reflect the "Saturday stroll in the park" style that they align themselves with. Next up is "Beginnings," I really like how confident the horns are here, and the bright singing. An extended outro reminds me we're only at the start of the album, and there's still an hour of wildness to go. What follows is a series of a diverse tracks that never tire you despite their lengths. First is a milder pop piece, a little catchy and still very upbeat, smoothing the audience. "Listen" reminds us and this is a rock album and whips out the guitar. Is it just me or did the guitar sound hidden before this? Either way it kicks off "Poem 58," a cool groovy piece. Love the bridge in the middle when the vocals kick in. It's rampant, badass, and exciting. One thing I notice is how the back vocals behave almost like horns with more maneuverability. The second half kicks off with some amplifier distortion, an outlier for us all. I was lying in bed sick and was wondering when this will end, but honestly I thought it was really impressive. Thank god I didn't listen to while high. I would have either freaked out or imagined race cars. "South California Purples" continues the cool grooviness, and I like the surprise "I am the Walrus" excerpt. Otherwise probably the most forgettable track. We reach another pop highlight with "I'm a Man," this time really funky and the most wild to dance to. Amazing instrumental carried by the percussions. "Someday" is a political song about when the CTA dragged a Vietnamese protester. I like the ominous bridge but otherwise it's pretty weak. The 15 minute finale was also written by the trombonist, maybe also political with the "Liberation" title but it's a cool jazz fusion guitar show. Doesn't feel drawn out.

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Tue Apr 12 2022
4

Hey there everybody! I liked this more than I was expecting to, and I don't hate later Chicago quite as much as it seems everyone else does. The songs that moved along brisky with some structure, like Introduction, South California Purples, I'm a Man, were fantastic. About half an hour less of this album, maybe minus Liberation and a minute chopped off every other song, and you'd have a tight five start masterpiece. I'm of two minds about Free Form Guitar. Seems more suited to Sound Cloud than on a real physical album.

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Wed Apr 20 2022
4

Really good stuff. Some of it is annoying but most of it is really badass.

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Tue May 10 2022
4

big and brassy. 3 maybe? Bump to 4 for some good songs and chicago branding ofc.

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Sun May 15 2022
4

I did not know Chicago could sound like this.

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Fri May 20 2022
4

Well created album with some great brass sections 👍

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Sat May 28 2022
4

Chicago really jumped the shark at around Chicago X , but before that they really kicked ass. The singles from this album are great: Does anybody really know what time it is, Beginnings and I'm a man. But I've never sat down to listen to this entire album so I was pleasantly surprised to see that it's more experimental than their later sacchariney-sweet offerings. Introduction has a really nice segue into nice horn and guitar solos. Questions 67 and 68, Listen are very good and Poem 58, Free form guitar and Liberation rock out in psychedelic bliss reminiscent of some of the old Zappa guitar solos. But I think you have to be of a "certain age" to enjoy them.

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Sat May 28 2022
4

I didn’t think I knew Chicago but I know some of the tunes from this one. Does Anybody Know . .  .  is an excellent song and shows how to do a hippy song properly. The vocals on this LP  really stand out. Questions 67 and 68 is an excellent example.   The barrage of horns in the first few songs starts getting to me a little so when the relief comes it’s not too late. I like how they bring in the other instruments such as the isolated percussion at the end of Beginnings and the guitar solo in Questions but that solo is too short (and the Solo that takes up the first half of Poem 58 is too long - there’s just no pleasing some people lol.) The Jimi style guitar work on the second half of Poem 58 is great but  the Jimi style distortion fest on Free Form Guitar is tough to listen to. Similarly, the songs that have 5+ minute guitar solos (eg Liberation) don't work. Kath is a good guitar player but, unless you're Hendrix, a 10 minute guitar solo is pompous.  The positives about this album are very positive but the painfully long  guitar solos drag it down. The last 2 minutes of Liberation bring back the horns and vocals and  convince me to round up to 4. 

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Mon May 30 2022
4

Great album, great band that was always being played throughout my life but put on by someone else- like a radio DJ or a family member at a BBQ. The band is really tight and the songs even at their foundations sound really great. There's also this sort of "epic" quality to this album (and probably the rest of the bands music as well) that I really appreciate. It's like the guitarist would go into the studio and say "can i do this huge guitar solo?" and the rest of the band says "hell yes". Good example of this is the track "Poem 58".

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Mon May 30 2022
4

How amazing to have everything I love in music in one place: psychedelic guitar, jazz improvisations, soulful vocals and stellar drumming that can keep up with all of the above. Also, horns! There’s a special dopamine hit I get when my favorite rock bands include horns on a song and Chicago seems to be designed around the principle that more horns is pretty much always better than less horns. I agree! “Free Form Guitar” is a bit much but I always thought of Chicago as a clean-cut band and it’s nice to know they did drugs too. (The same goes for the wild but kind of exhausting 14-minute closer “Liberation.”) Other than those though, this is great. Favorite tracks: “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” (such a great song and I’ve never heard that jazzy intro before), “Poem 58” (that guitar!), “South California Purples,” “I’m a Man”

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Sat Jun 25 2022
4

listen

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Mon Jun 27 2022
4

Really enjoyed this album, everything comes through very strong between the brass section, the guitars, and the vocals they all get their time to really step into the spotlight. You have some solid Rock, but it's backed with all kinds of genres weaving in between Jazz, Funk, and even some psychadelia. Lost a point for Free Form Guitar, that could have been cut otherwise definitely an album I would add to my collection.

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Mon Jun 27 2022
4

Fav songs: - Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? - Beginnings - Someday

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Wed Jul 06 2022
4

I'm probably best classified as a fan of Chicago's greatest hits, though mostly for their soft rock stuff with Cetera on lead vocals. I knew and respected some of their early hits (mostly Lamm-led vocals) but was less interested in those. Not until now did I appreciate how good of musicians they were. Cetera is a pretty darn good bassist (check out Listen or I'm a Man), not just a high-pitched wonder. And yeah, Free Form Guitar probably could've been about half the time but damn, Kath can play (also listen to Poem 58 or South California Purples). Then layer in the jazz section on top of the typical instruments and it's really quite impressive. Introduction is just that - a great starter if you want to know what these guys can do. And then keep going with the hits (tracks 2-4) but also don't skip the finisher Liberation. Lamm also pens some great lyrics (besides sides one and two, check out Someday on side four).

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Fri Jul 08 2022
4

Seems like I really like Chicago, especially their early works with Terry Kath. Lots of great musicians, earnest (slightly cheezy) lyrics, and dense arrangements. "DARKWTII" is a puzzling track. Apparently it was a radio hit, but the first half is a bit of a chore. After that, though, it's the perfect kind of tunesome sardonicism that is right up my alley. The whole album is pretty good with the energy of (what was surely) a rollicking live show with the polish of a studio. Some tracks are a little indulgent, but that's ok. It's a good one and deserves to go on the ol' hi-fi end-to-end.

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Mon Jul 18 2022
4

couple parts of the album got a little long - but the opening few tracks are just killer

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Mon Jul 18 2022
4

Far exceeded my expectations. Had heard all the hits before but the whole album just had a great sound/vibe. Would dive into more of the early Chicago catalogue. 4/5

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Mon Jul 18 2022
4

I really enjoyed this album. A couple of well known songs, but even the ones I don't know that well were really good.

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Tue Jul 19 2022
4

I’ve heard of Chicago before but I did not know their sound. This album gave a great insight into who they are and their sound, which surprised me. I was not expecting such a presence of horns and rock but I think they work really well together. It reminded me a bit of show tunes but I enjoyed it. I’m surprised there are not more bands who incorporated horns as heavily as Chicago does

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Fri Jul 22 2022
4

Nice collection of jazz rock. Love the instruments. Not bad at all 4/5

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Wed Aug 03 2022
4

Other than "free form guitar" this was a very solid album

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Thu Aug 04 2022
4

Barking mad, almost unlistenable in places, but by far the best thing I've been pointed at in ages

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Sat Aug 13 2022
4

Really enjoyed it. Would listen again. Found the anti- Vietnam war commentary also interesting

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Mon Aug 15 2022
4

Fun casual vibe album. Love the additions of horns to many of their mellow rock songs.

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Sat Aug 20 2022
4

Unique blues rock with brass section, upbeat full sound, strong singer, dominant trumpet, wind solos reminiscent of cocktail sundowns

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Thu Aug 25 2022
4

Whatever happened to Chicago if this is their first album? I went into this listen with a bare minimum knowledge of the band, only some of their famous singles of later periods like If You Leave Me Now and Hard To Say I'm Sorry. Songs that are not inviting for a music lover to search deeper into a bands repertoire. How wrong was I. Chicago Transit Authority is a great jazzy and soulful rock album with a copper wind section to boot. Lots of changes in tempo and styles, and some great musicians. It's not a 5* album due to the absolutely terrible "Free For Guitar," and the way too standard "South California Purples" But an amazing album for the rest. And I'll be listening to this again.

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Mon Aug 29 2022
4

Solid funk album, cannot complain.

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Tue Aug 30 2022
4

4.5

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Wed Sep 14 2022
4

Definitely a sucker for this kind of thing. Standouts: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?, Questions 67 and 68, Liberation Miss me with: Free Form Guitar (I feel like I have a pretty high tolerance for stuff like this, but 7 minutes of it? Come on now.)

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Thu Sep 15 2022
4

It's all over the place, but still an interesting blend of rock, soul, jazz and psychedelica.

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Thu Sep 15 2022
4

Solid debut double album - steady 4 star - except Free Form Guitar (according to wikipedia, this was an influential song but it is just horrible to listen to)

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Tue Sep 20 2022
4

One of Grandad's favourites. Love it!!

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Thu Sep 22 2022
4

No its not the most mind blowing thing in the world, but it is pretty fun. You cant really hate the grooves or tight playing

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Thu Sep 29 2022
4

psychedelic rock with jazzy horns was not what I thought this would be. I like jazzy albums and rocky albums. This album is EXACTLY a 9/10

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Sat Oct 08 2022
4

First listen, was very nice 👍

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Wed Oct 12 2022
4

Leuke verrassing! Er gebeurt zo veel op muzikaal vlak, dat ik deze wel nog eens ga beluisteren.

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Sun Oct 16 2022
4

Guitarrero, setentero, con una muy buena voz vocal y muy de la época

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Wed Oct 19 2022
4

I always think about these bands with city names as the same (Chicago, Boston, Nazareth, Alabama, etc...) with that kind of easy-listening music from the 70s and 80s. How foolish I was for never trying "Chicago" before. It's an extended play with more than 1 hour trip to various rock styles and an excellent instrumental vibe from start to end. I hope other bands named after cities I never tried have identical surprising albums on this list. I'll be lucky.

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Wed Oct 19 2022
4

A pretty cool debut album that must have been pretty unique in rock music at the time with generous use of horn charts , the fusion of pop and jazz (big band) and first class musicianshio. Lots of great songs. I do find the double album a little long especially with some of the drawn out instrumental breaks, specfically the guitar freak outs on Liberation and the aptly titled Free Form Guitar. At its best; Does Anybody Really Know What Time it is, Beginnings and especially The cover of The Spencer Davis Group's I'm AM Man, the bands songs and playing are really quite remarkable. Ultimately their reach excedes their grasp but still a stunning debut. 4 stars

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Thu Oct 20 2022
4

I think I’ve heard Chicago before, but then again I’m not sure if I’m thinking of the stage musical. Or I could possibly be mixing them up with Boston or Kansas because… you know… America places. Songs I already knew: none Favourites: Beginnings, Poem 58 This is quite different to Boston and Kansas after all. It is still rock music, but also incorporates plenty of RnB and funk. It’s much jauntier than I was expecting, and overall was a very enjoyable listen. Musically, everything is very tight and works well which isn’t always the case with older albums where the odd mistake can sometimes slip through. Overall, I’d recommend for anybody who, like me, thinks rock music needs more horns. I’m late to the party, but I’m very happy to have discovered Chicago today. My only criticism is it is a very long album, and Free Form Guitar is just noise which I felt should have just been cut.

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Sun Oct 23 2022
4

Uau. I didn't now about that side of Chicago. On some songs they remind me of the Zappa. And far away from soft rock band 10 years (or so) later.

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Wed Nov 02 2022
4

Far better than expected. I'm more familiar with Chicago's later work, and while 25 or 6 to 4 is an absolutely excellent song, the more and more ballads the less and less interesting. Luckily, this album had none of that, it was just excellent Big Band/Funk/Rock all around that also had some unexpected very experimental sound. I enjoyed the first half more than the second half, but it was all good, and if Jimi Hendrix thinks the guitar sounds good, then you're doing something right. Now if only the songs didn't go on so long sometimes. Not like they're repetitive, they certainly earn there length most of the time, but it makes it hard to imagine wanting to listen to them again when half of them are twice or even three times as long as the average song.

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Fri Nov 11 2022
4

I know some Chicago songs, but this is not what I was expecting as all. I love the huge sound and happy feels - they did a good job of not being annoying with it. I especially appreciate the flow of the album. I was pleasantly surprised with this album.

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Fri Nov 11 2022
4

Before listening to this album, I was only familiar with Chicago's radio singles. Really enjoyed this album. Lots of rich sounds big horns, loved it!

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Tue Nov 15 2022
4

better than I expected, edgier and harder rock than I thought they could make!

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Fri Feb 05 2021
3

Tiring. 5.5/10 FT: Questions 67 and 68

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Tue Feb 16 2021
3

Love the innovation here even it gets weird at times

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Wed Nov 18 2020
3

not bad

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Fri Nov 20 2020
3

A couple of my favorite Chicago songs on here, and a surprising amount of heavy guitar wanking.

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Tue Feb 16 2021
3

Not Chicago’s best but an interesting no vocal sound

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Tue Apr 06 2021
3

I've always liked Chicago, but I'd never heard their first album. It was a really interesting blend of everything that I've known of them, plus some throwbacks to the era which initially produced them. It wasn't a top tier album for me personally, but merited 3 stars.

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Mon Jun 07 2021
3

Kinda corny of course, but love the horn section.

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Tue Feb 23 2021
3

High highs, but a couple too many free form tracks

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Fri Feb 05 2021
3

1969. Horns! Jazzy. Fun.

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Fri May 14 2021
3

More complexity in the music than I might have given it credit for. Not really my thing, and I think the lyrics are a little dull and trite.

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Sat Feb 20 2021
3

best in small doses. more jamband than I was aware

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Fri Feb 05 2021
3

Some sick riffs

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Mon Feb 15 2021
3

Some favorites, like the horn sections

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Wed Feb 24 2021
3

This could’ve been, and should’ve been two albums. There’s no reason for this to be an hour and fifteen

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Tue Mar 02 2021
3

Sometimes good, sometimes it drags on.

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Mon Jul 05 2021
3

Zaczęło się spoko, ale nudy

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