Turntable Thursdays 10/12/2017

I have spent the past few days listening to Chicago’s first album “Chicago Transit Authority.”

What a phenomenal record.

Chicago Transit Authority

Originally released in April of 1969 by Columbia Records, Chicago’s opening 12-cut sonic euphoria erupts in your ear, blowing your mind, and making memories from the first note to the last chord. The band’s self-described “rock-n-roll with horns” sound grabs the listener’s attention immediately. From the time the needle hits the vinyl (or when your mp3 player starts), you realize your ears are in for a new experience. Fusing brass and jazz with soulful rock and roll, Chicago Transit Authority (later Chicago) explodes on the music scene.

Almost 50 years later, Chicago is still one of rock’s most underrated, underappreciated, and underestimated bands. That may be due to the marked change in the band’s sound in the early 1980s. You only have to plug-in your earphones and crank up the volume to quickly uncover the band’s superb musicianship, dynamic songwriting, and ability to stretch its sound.

On their debut LP, the late Terry Kath unleashes some of the finest guitar work ever on record. Kath’s guitar licks were so strong that reportedly the late guitar icon Jimi Hendrix became a huge fan of Kath.

Originally called Chicago Transit Authority, the group had to change the band’s moniker to Chicago after the actual Chicago Transit Authority objected to the use of its name.

Their first record features the band’s most iconic lineup:

Terry Kath – electric and acoustic guitars, lead and backing vocals

Robert Lamm – grand piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, lead and backing vocals, Hammond organ, Hohner Pianet, maracas

Peter Cetera – bass, lead and backing vocals

Walter Parazaider – saxophones, backing vocals, tambourine

Lee Loughnane – trumpet, backing vocals, claves

James Pankow – trombone, cowbell, brass arrangements

Danny Seraphine – drums, percussion

Amid the soulful rock numbers, you’ll find a couple of experimental jams that highlight the band’s musicianship. The group pays tribute to the Beatles on ‘South California Purples’, quoting the opening lines of the Fab Four’s classic ‘I Am the Walrus’ (“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.”) The band also pays homage to the Spencer Davis Group, with their rendition of ‘I’m A Man’.

Keyboardist Robert Lamm is credited with writing six of songs on the band’s inaugural project and is listed as a co-writer on an additional track. However, in recent interviews, Lamm says that many of the songs were only a framework in the making and weren’t really complete until the band played them, with each musician adding their personal touch on each cut. In the studio, the band would take each individual songwriter’s rough cut and transform into a gem. Perhaps that’s what makes this such a great record.

Track Listings:

Introduction (6:49); Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?(4:34); Beginnings (6:09);

Question 67 And 68 (4:46); Listen (3:24); Poem 58 (8:37); Free Form Guitar (6:49);

South California Purples (6:39); I’m a Man (6:56); Prologue, August 29, 1968 (0:57);

Someday (August 29, 1968) (4:13); Liberation (15:57)

Classic album. Do I what I did and rediscover it. It will be time well spent.

Speaking of Steve Winwood…

Steve Winwood GH Live cover

In a previous post, I mentioned that the legendary musician released a new Greatest Hits Live album at the beginning of September.

The 2 disc Live set features cuts from Winwood’s time with Traffic, Blind Faith, and the Spencer Davis Group in addition to Winwood’s considerable solo catalogue.

Track Listing:

CD 1:

I’m A Man; Them Changes; Fly; Can’t Find My Way Home; Had To Cry Today; Low Spark of High Heeled Boys; Empty Pages; Back In The High Life Again; Higher Love; Dear Mr. Fantasy; Gimme Some Lovin’.

CD 2:

Rainmaker; Pearly Queen; Glad; Why Can’t We Live Together; 40,000 Headmen; Walking In The Wind; Medicated Goo; John Barleycorn; While You See A Chance; Arc Of A Diver; Freedom Overspill; Roll With It.

Winwood is joined on the record by guitarist Jose Neto, drummer Richard Bailey, multi-instrumentalist Paul Booth, and percussionist Edson Silver. Together, Winwood’s ensemble provides fresh portraits of the singer/songwriter’s finest works, flush with imaginative improvisation, and a global, rhythmic pulse. As I mentioned in my previous post, this maybe one of the finest Greatest Hits/Live records I’ve heard. Ever. A big part of that is that Winwood sticks to the recipe but mixes up the ingredients, dishing out top-grade fare with a new flavor.

That’s a glimpse of what’s been playing on my favorite media player…what’s on yours?

Turntable Thursdays 9/28/2017

Matt Redman’s new record drops this Friday, 9/29. If the single, ‘Greatest Hallelujah’ is any indication, Redman’s latest release will be chock full of fresh powerhouse praise anthems. A singer/songwriter, Matt writes his own songs and is known for penning classic praise and worship songs like ‘The Heart of Worship’, ‘You Never Let Go’, ‘Blessed Be Your Name’, the Grammy-nominated ‘Our God‘, and the double-Grammy winning ‘10,000 Reasons ‘. Bet you didn’t know Christian artists were nominated for Grammys, did you? A full-time worship leader since age 20, Redman, now 43, hails from the United Kingdom. His latest single, ‘Greatest Hallelujah’ just came out this past Friday.

The first verse sounds like something straight out of the psalmist’s ancient songbook.

There’s a hallelujah, an everlasting song/A never-ending anthem, we sing to You alone/Resounding in the heavens and in our hearts today/How greatly we’re forgiven and how great/ How great will be Your praise.  

My ears (and my heart) are certainly looking forward to hearing the rest of the new record Friday.

Matt Redman ‘10,000 Reasons’

Last Friday, September 22, also saw the latest release from Christian singer/songwriter Matthew West entitled ‘All In’. The record has been in heavy rotation on my Spotify this past week and features a number of great songs. West’s new album is upbeat, up-tempo and uplifting. From the title cut, ‘All In,’ the record launches into a love story focusing on key relationships in West’s life, the foremost of which is his relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Praise songs like ‘Mercy Is A Song,’ ‘Amen,’ and the bluesy ‘Jesus & You’ reveal the important role God plays in West’s life. Reflective songs like ‘Broken Things’ and ‘The Beautiful Things We Miss’ highlight West’s growing ability as a songwriter featuring thought-provoking lyrics laced with catchy melodies and backed by groovy rhythms. The love relationship theme unfolds throughout the record, including a walk down memory lane about Matt and his wife in ‘Something Greater’ and a tribute to his Mom, Lulu, in ‘Becoming Me’. Perhaps my favorite song is ‘POWER LOVE SOUND MIND’ which shares the stories of our hurts and heartaches and how trusting in God lifts us up from the ashes. The bluesy ‘Jesus & You,‘ runs a close second. Evoking ghosts of Steve Winwood, the song features a couple of cool organ riffs. All In’ is a solid work featuring well-written, theologically correct, rhythmic, soul-inspiring songs.

Speaking of which…Steve Winwood released a new Greatest Hits record at the beginning of September too. And a LIVE record no less! (I LOVE LIVE RECORDS!). if you haven’t heard it yet,  I urge you to go give it a listen. The record features live versions of ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’, ‘Higher Love’, ‘Gimme Some Lovin’, ‘John Barleycorn’, ‘Roll With it’ ,‘Arc of a Diver’, and ‘While You See A Chance,’  to name a few. It’s a phenomenal live record that fully captures the sound of one of rock’s musical icons. The record is appropriately called ‘Winwood Greatest Hits Live’.

That’s  a sample of what’s been playing on my Spotify. How about you? What’s in heavy rotation on your music player?

Until next time—-may the peace beyond all understanding go with you wherever you go and may the wind always be at your back.

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