Friday, January 2, 2009

Just An Important Album Pt 4

Well, what about this?
There is something to tell.
Yesterday, on the first day of The New Year I had to work, I was on duty (and still is). The alternative everyday "have-to-earn-some-money" life job.
The situation made me go by car for about 200 kilometers to another hospital in the region, do the job I had to do and then go back the 200 kilometers again.
A lot of time in the car driving through winter landscapes.
And as always during these situations I was loaded with music I brought with me.
It use to be Joxfield (of course), otherwise Hawkwind or some other nice stuff. This time 'the other stuff' was Chicags III, originally a double LP (now a single CD) from 1971.
And while listening to it, especially the first four tracks of what was the first LP side, my mind started spinning and I realise that once this was a very important band in my develpoment as a music lover and listener.

In spring 1970, as a fifteen years old youngster, at a disco at school the DJ played a terrific version of a cover of Specer Davis Group's I'm A Man. What was that? It was a single and in the middle of the long song the DJ had to turn from side A to side B to continue. I had to ask. What was it? Chicago Transit Authority, he said.
A couple of days later I tried to find it in the record store. No success. It was out of stock, but there was an alternative version, a radio edited one, shorter. I bought it. It was still very good, but not the same as the extended, long LP version.
And it had some strange track with horn arrangemants on the B-side.
I went looking for the LP. Also out of stock! But, there was a new one out, they said, Chicago's second release. The groupname was changed just to Chicago to avoid some problems with the Chicago Transit Authority transport company. The 2nd release was called just Chicago, even though it immediately became knowns as Chicago II. Another double LP set. I bought it unheard and went home, ready for some raving rock n roll listening, and put it on:
'What the heck!'. A record filled with horns and jazz and stuff, not what I expected. Not what I use to like. Anyway, through the listening I realised there were some really good moments and as I continously listed to it more and more I also started liking it more and more.
My ears was opened up for brass arrangements, jazz solos and stuff. This was good - really good, and I still consider this particular recprd being one of the Top 100 Albums of all time.
Soon I laid my hands on their first, Chicago Transit Authority, a lot of jazz, but also a lot of Terry Kath, one of my favourite guitar players, a sadly underrated one, maybe because of his too early death.
In spring 1971 I bought Chicago III (their third double LP in a row). Still a very good record, but there was some weak moments, some fillers.
My Christmas gift # 1 for 1971 was their fourth release, Chicago IV - Live At Carnegie Hall, for the first time not a double LP release. It was a quadrouple. Four LPs in a huge box filled with pictures, books and stuff. Live recordings of most of their stuff, a lot of close-to-the-originals versions, but also tracks really extended, especially the ones where Terry Kath spread out his guitar wings.
I loved it!

And it was yesterday, when I drove through the winter landscapes, listening to Chicago III, I realised it was 37 years ago since I spend the Christmas with their live record. 37 years! Oh Mah God! And yes, it's a cliché, but it's really like it was yesterday. I don't even have to close my eyes to feel exactly how it felt while sitting there in my room with the stereo on, playing it again and again....

Summer 1972 they release V, a single LP. Short tracks. Nice radiofriendly pop music, a step in a new (well, new and new, let's say: another) direction. A couple of tracks was ok, I bought it, but soon I stoped playing it. It was actually a bit boring. And after that Chicago went into The Land of AOR and I definitely lost interest.

But, looking at history, between april 1969 and october 1971 they released four excellent albums, all important to me, albums I still come back to every now and then and listen to, expecially Chicago II, their true masterpiece.
Just go for them!


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