Imagine, if you will, getting to hear your favorite band before they hit it big. Chicago Transit Authority (originally "The Big Thing" and later just "Chicago") was formed by a gentleman's agreement in woodwind player, Walt Parazaider's apartment in February 1967. The original six members Terry Kath, Danny Seraphine, Robert Lamm, Walt Parazaider, James Pankow, and Lee Loughnane were augmented a few months later by tenor vocalist/bass player, Peter Cetera who left the group he'd been with, the Exceptions, to join The Big Thing.
Through the rather fortuitous friendship of James William Guercio and Walt Parazaider, The Big Thing were pitched to Columbia Records. One of Guercio's first steps as producer/manager of the band was to change their name to Chicago Transit Authority, after the public transportation he'd grown up riding and held a special nostalgia for.
This bootleg is a snapshot of that era, before Chicago became Chicago, before their 3 worldwide #1 hits, before becoming only second to the Beach Boys in record sales by an American band-- the band playing on this bootleg is a younger, hungrier, and much more raw band than what they'd later turn into.
1. It Better End Soon (later released on Chicago II)
2. Girl (later released as Someday on Chicago Transit Authority with completely different lyrics referencing the '68 Democratic Convention in Chicago)
3. Once Upon a Life (never released)
4. Terry's Blues (cut ending)
5. Terry's Blues (one hell of a showcase of guitarist Terry Kath's talents, at the end of the song he refers to the song as Toe Jam)
6. Questions 67 & 68 (later released on Chicago Transit Authority)
7. Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry cover, sung by Terry Kath with interesting "new" lyrics interespersed with the Chuck Berry lyrics making reference to marijuana)
8. Rock Around the Clock (Bill Haley & His Comets cover sung by Peter Cetera)
9. Gimme Some Lovin' (Spencer Davis Group cover sung by Robert Lamm, I have a bootleg from the 80s that features Peter Cetera singing this instead of Robert Lamm)
10. Listen (later released on Chicago Transit Authority)
11. Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? (later released on Chicago Transit Authority)
12. Mississippi Delta City Blues (later released on Live in Japan in 1972with a new arrangement, and on Chicago XI in 1978 with yet a different arrangement)
13. Got to Get You Into My Life (Beatles cover sung by Peter Cetera)
14. It's Not Unusual (Tom Jones cover sung by Terry Kath)
15. Poem 58 (later released on Chicago Transit Authority)
16. I'll Be Back Again (Beatles cover sung by Robert Lamm & Peter Cetera)
17. Dedicated to Girl Number One (unreleased, this is the song Chicago recorded as their demo. The demo is apparently lost forever somewhere in the Sony vaults. This is one of two live versions I know of, sung by Robert Lamm)
18. Liberation (later released on Chicago Transit Authority)
The sound quality is uneven. On some songs its surprisingly good but on all tracks, despite a few flubs here and there, it's very listenable. This is one of three Chicago bootlegs from 1968 known to be floating around fan collector circles. Of the three, this one has the best sound quality although one of the other two bootlegs (both recorded at Barnaby's) have arguably a superior song selection with covers of Hendrix (Hey Joe, Foxy Lady, & Purple Haze), Cream (Sunshine of Your Love), the Beach Boys (Darlin'), the Beatles (Lady Madonna, Sgt. Peppers, With a Little Help From My Friends), Marvin Gaye (One More Heartache), Martha & the Vandellas (Dancing in the Streets), Brenda Lee (Losing You), and Wilson Pickett (99 and a Half Just Won't Do).
Hearing the band at this stage in their careers is quite refreshing considering what the band has turned into in more recent years. Members have come and gone and the hunger has been replaced by greed. There's a love for the music they're performing-- both the covers and the original material that is, arguably, lacking in the current incarnation of the band's performances.
But all in all this is how Chicago should be heard, young and hungry. Full of energy, a balls-on horntastic blast of music.
Chicago (Official Site)
Peter Cetera (Official Site)
Peter Cetera (wikipedia)
Terry Kath (Official Site)
Terry Kath (wikipedia)
Danny Seraphine (wikipedia)
James Pankow (wikipedia)
Walt Parazaider (wikipedia)
Lee Loughnane (wikipedia)
Robert Lamm (Official Site)
Robert Lamm (wikipedia)