Chicago Transit Authority ‘Chicago Transit Authority’

Posted 05 Jul 2011 in 60s, Albums of 1969, Albums of the 60s, Rock + Roll

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#425 in the Series) is Chicago Transit Authority.

How times have changed in the music industry.  I remember an era when if you were a pretty decent band, honed your writing skills, your playing skills and your overall package, you had a decent chance of getting a record deal.  If you had a following, you had a real good chance.  The labels often didn’t even expect anything from your first offering. They were often content to invest in you for the long term.  Start you off with album one, get you noticed and then try to just advance from there, album by album.  In fact, they worried more about over exposing you than they were milking every last buck from a release.

They might release three singles off an album. That would be about it. After that it was on to the next project.  The first time this really began to change was about 1983 or so when CBS pulled about seven singles off of Thriller. That was the first time a label even thought of going that deep; another of the early albums with a ton of singles was Toto’s Toto IV. That had a ton as well, and it also was on CBS.

Another thing unique to the period was a band like Chicago.  Their first album was a double album.  Not only that but so was their second and their third!   To top it off, their fourth album, the live one was FOUR discs.  It wasn’t until Chicago V that they released a single disc album.

Now try and get a major label deal. cta2 They only way you can get one is if you have a ton of viral videos that reflect a huge following, or if you’ve done something positive on one of these over produced television talent shows.   Oh, you haven’t done either of those you say? Well, you better have a Disney show of your own then.

Chicago Transit Authority was released in 1969. It held a sound that was so different.  There were not many bands that would combine guitar driven rock and roll with a horn section.  Blood Sweat and Tears was about it. They hit the scene about a year before Chicago and also had the great AL Kooper in their camp.

Another band in this style you may never have heard of, if you have, well that’s why you’re a reader of our site and stay with a feature this long!! That band was called Chase.  They were about a year or two after this.  Their dream ended when a plane crash took the lives of leader Bill Chase and fellow band members a couple years after.

I can’t go without mentioning one more band that had that sound. They was another band from the Chicago area. That would of course be The Ides of March. Their song “Vehicle” was a hit in 1970.

I loved the way this album began.  No one really knew CTA at the time so they did the smart thing. They kicked off their debut with the song called “Introduction.” Here they introduced who they were and told you to sit back and check out their new sound.

There were so many good Chicago songs on this one.  Many of them would often pop up on live releases or greatest hits packages etc. What I didn’t like about some of those was that they were more times than not, a chopped down version.  I don’t want to hear “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” without hearing Bobby Lamm’s full piano solo intro.  I don’t want to hear “Beginnings” with-out the ending!

Make sure you check out “Listen,” Does Terry Kath hold the longest note ever on record?  You tell me if there’s a long one somewhere. I never heard one.

The other thing I remember about this album was the “The Whole Worlds Watching” chant. This was during the time of the Democratic Convention in Chicago.  It was a time when people would take to the streets to protest a war like Vietnam.  I guess the record companies aren’t the only ones that have changed.

— Larry Carta

Track listing

Side one

  1. “Introduction” (Terry Kath) – 6:35
  2. “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” (Robert Lamm) – 4:35
  3. “Beginnings” (Robert Lamm) – 7:54

Side two

  1. “Questions 67 and 68” (Robert Lamm) – 5:03
  2. “Listen” (Robert Lamm) – 3:22
  3. “Poem 58” (Robert Lamm) – 8:35

Side three

  1. “Free Form Guitar” (Terry Kath) – 6:47
  2. “South California Purples” (Robert Lamm) – 6:11
  3. “I’m a Man” (Steve Winwood/James Miller) – 7:43

Side four

  1. “Prologue” (James William Guercio) – 0:58
  2. “Someday” (James Pankow/Robert Lamm) – 4:11
  3. “Liberation” (James Pankow) – 14:38


Back Cover

  • Terry Kath – guitar, vocals
  • Robert Lamm – keyboard, vocals
  • Lee Loughnane – trumpet, vocals
  • James Pankow – trombone
  • Walter Parazaider – woodwinds, vocals
  • Danny Seraphine – drums
  • Pete Cetera – bass, vocals


See more albums from 1969

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Posted by Larry Carta


  1. coachmaddog (06 Jul 2011, 5:54)

    This is one band that I have always HATED. They were always the ones on the mainstream radio stations when I grew up in Chicago in the 1970’s. I still loathe them.

  2. crinman (06 Jul 2011, 11:43)

    Flip side to coach – I loved Chicago from the CTA album forward for their 1st 4-5 albums. Very different. And I agree that the radio songs were the worst – but the full albums showed who they really were. Probably one of the 1st true Jam bands. Check out “Introduction”. I agree that they got a little commercial in the mid 70’s and I quit buying, however, when seen in concert – they were fantastic.

  3. Stephen Dalrymple (09 Jul 2011, 2:18)

    Prog , Fusion , Jam bands , words that are guaranteed to have me running in the opposite direction , as quickly as these 44 year old legs will allow ! Oh and two other words…….Steely and Dan.

  4. graybeard76 (01 Aug 2011, 17:53)

    being in the brass section in the high school band in the 70’s, Chicago was the best. They put out the perfect songs to play in marching band and pep band.
    Disappointed with the playlist from today though. it had none of the songs from this album in it.

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