Andre Gardner

Weekdays 2:00pm–7:00pm

27th August 1970: American rock band Chicago, in England to top the bill at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival. From left to right; Pete Cetera (bass), James Pankow (trombone), Lee Loughnane (trumpet), Terry Kath (guitar), Walter Parazaider (saxophone) and Danny Seraphine. (Photo by Ian Showell/Keystone/Getty Images)

On this day 54 years ago (4/28/69), Chicago released their debut album to the world. Back then they were known as Chicago Transit Authority, until the actual city utility put a stop to that.

In a bold move that cost them some royalty money early on, their first album was a 2-LP set. Although there were just 12 songs on that double album, four songs were longer than seven minutes in duration, with the closing track, “Liberation,” clocking in at over 14 minutes.

While the move for a double album was surely risky, it allowed the band to showcase their different musical styles, not to mention shine the spotlight on that otherworldly guitar work by the late Terry Kath.

Due to budget limitations, the band had to pretty much record and mix the whole album in a week. And they did, even though their experience in a recording studio was limited.

Thanks to airplay on FM radio stations, the album, and Chicago, got noticed, and they haven’t looked back since.

I love this album, and it was the one that introduced me to the band way back when. Here are 5 great reasons to give CTA, as it’s sometimes known, a listen. Not to take anything away from the other 7 songs, they are all excellent in their own individual way, but if you want to test drive this fine work first, I’d suggest starting with these.

  • Introduction

    What a way to begin your debut album: a welcome message from the band wrapped in a song. Pure genius, and what a song this is.

  • Beginnings

    This one got heavy airplay in Philadelphia, and was a hit around the country as well. To me, this is the signature song on the album, and has one of the coolest endings I’ve ever heard.

  • Questions 67 & 68

    Peter Cetera didn’t contribute a song to a Chicago album until their second album, but his vocal on this Robert Lamm track is nothing short of stellar.

  • Listen

    My vote for the most underrated song on the album. It shoulda been a hit single, I tell you!

  • I'm A Man

    I’m not usually a huge fan of most remakes, but this cover of the Spencer Davis Group song is one of the best covers I’ve ever heard.  While the signature Chicago horns do not appear on this track, they horn guys chip in on percussion, and Tery Kath’s guitar work defies description.


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