Chicago Transit Authority – Chicago (1969)

Album no. 162/1001

What do you get when you mix rock and roll, jazz, R&B and classical music? Chicago, the band!

According to their combined album and singles sales, Chicago come SECOND behind The Beach Boys as the most successful American rock band of all time. THAT’s AN INSANE FACT.

Have you listened to this album before?

CL: No. I didn’t think I knew anything by them at all, but turns out they do that song ‘If You Leave Me Now’ – one of the best musical interludes in a movie, ever. But that was almost 10 years after this album, so I don’t know what to think.  

NK: I love that movie. I have never really listened to Chicago. In my head they’re a big boring stadium rock band from the 70s.

Standout track

CL: Oooh. Ooh dear.

NK: Oh yeah, not my thing at all. This is a weird album. Some of the singing and horns remind me of Frank Sinatra, or maybe Jacques Brel/Scott Walker chamber pop. BUT on top of that there are a whole bunch of extended (unnecessary?) guitar solos. Even ‘Listen’, the shortest track on the album, has a minute of guitar wank in the middle of it. I was against this from ‘Introduction’ basically, six minutes of full band jamming that goes nowhere. It mixes a lot of influences, I’ll say that for it. Besides the crooning/pop stuff there are a lot of funky basslines, jazzy drums and piano, it just goes on. Also they nicked some lyrics from ‘I am the walrus’ lyrics on ‘South California Purples’. I hope The Beatles sued them.

CL: I honestly have nothing to say about it aside from the fact that I celebrated when it finished. I really struggled with this. I couldn’t enjoy any of it. TOO long.

When would be the best time to listen to this?

CL: Like…never? This was so boring and yuck I lost interest after the first 2 minutes.

NK: If you like musicians showing off purely for the sake of it. You need a high tolerance for self indulgence to get through this. ‘Free Form Guitar’ is unlistenable. Just completely pointless.

Why has this album been included on the list?

CL: The only thing I can think of is that it has a lot of things going on. I don’t think this is a good thing.

NK: I guess because it mixes so many genres and sold so many copies. However that does not lead me to regard it any more fondly. This album is bad.

Will you be listening again?  

CL: God it was difficult to write this review, mostly because I just didn’t want to. Listening to this has put me right off everything, from writing the review to eating my lunch. 

NK: I can’t help but admire bands who debut with double albums. I wonder how many came out and flopped. I will never listen to this again.


CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

NK: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

Listen to Chicago Transit Authority on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.


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