More than 40 years after it was recorded, Rhino has released Chicago Transit Authority for the first time ever in true discrete Quadraphonic sound mastered from the original four-track Quad mixes. (The music-only disc will play on any DVD player with surround audio.)
The original release, recorded in eleven days, introduced a whole generation to the horn-powered fusion-rock band and the songwriting talents of Robert Lamm. And it stayed on the pop charts for a three-year run thanks to hit singles “Beginnings,” “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is,” and “Questions 67 and 68.” Rhino’s spectacular surround- staging transports you right back to 1969, immersing the listener in the raw musical, political, and youthful energy of the time. But great as it is to hear the full-length hits in four-track sound, as they were meant to be heard, it’s what you don’t hear on oldies radio that really shines: Terry Kath’s growling and wailing fretwork on “Free Form Guitar,” the horns highlighting the tricky time changes of “Introduction,” Peter Cetera’s booming yet nimble bass lead-in to “I’m A Man,” and finally the culmination—a fifteen-minute live rendition of “Liberation.” That’s what will remind you how musicians with real chops made albums before the invention of Pro Tools.