Wednesday, November 07, 2007

CTA - Full Circle (2007)

In 1990 one of the larger miscarriages of musical justice occurred when Chicago drummer, Daniel Seraphine, was fired from the very band he helped found and put on the map as the second most successful American rock band (the Beach Boys being the most successful).

After a 16 year hiatus from the music industry, Danny finally decided to resume his musical career. After some wood-shedding with veteran session drummers like Joe Porcaro and Steve Smith (of Journey fame), Danny partnered up with guitarist Marc Bonilla and the two of them put together what became California Transit Authority (an homage to his original band). A handful of concert dates on both the east and west coasts and this album are the end result of the fruits of their musical labors.

From first listen you can tell music is a labor of love not just for Seraphine and Bonilla but for their whole band. Full Circle is a collection of covers of classic Chicago material and a handful of other songs. Generally covers albums don't work so well-- but with Danny having been the original drummer for the music being covered there is that common thread that gives these covers considerably more credence than at the hands and talents of other bands.

Start to finish California Transit Authority takes these songs and makes them their own. Tower of Power vocalist, Larry Braggs, lends his soulful vocals to many of the tracks, however a handful of them are either instrumentals or have been re-done as instrumentals. Some of the highlights include:
  • Happy Cause I'm Going Home originally an album cut on Chicago III it lends itself well to CTA's new arrangement which replaces Walt Parazaider's flute with Marc Bonilla's deft guitar work.
  • Introduction (the lead-off track from Chicago's 1969 debut album) which sounds quite fresh with its updated arrangement.
  • Make Me Smile was Chicago's first top 10 hit. CTA redoes this classic as an instrumental replacing the vocal line with the guitar.
Listening to this album conjures the feeling that Chicago has really been missing something since Danny's unfortunate departure all those years ago. No offense to current Chicago drummer, Tris Imboden (who is an excellent drummer in his own right), the drumming just sounds "fuller" than much of the post Seraphine Chicago material does. There's more meat "in the pocket" and for Chicago fans listening to this material is like meeting an old friend for the first time all over again.

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4 comments:

Charlie said...

You and I very much agree on our opinons of Danny and this CD. I too, was confused over the cover of "Colour My World" but I have since been won over by that song too. I would like to seem them do another CD full of originals and covers of non-Chicago stuff.

David Amulet said...

I hadn't even heard of the new CTA. Good for him--getting back on the saddle.

-- david

musicobsessive said...

This sounds really interesting. As a long time fan of Chicago circa 1969-1972 I always rated Danny as a drummer and I'm so glad he made it back. I'm now off to check out the samples...

Anonymous said...

For those of you looking for the next installment of CTA, a new CD is in the works and should be out by the beginning of next year, if not sooner.