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The Chicago Transit Authority

It’s interesting to see versions of familiar songs from the days before they lost their edge and were exiled to classic rock format hell. The version of Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” above rocks far more than I remember and than versions of more recent vintage, which lean to the right side of the middle-of-the-road lane. But we all get older. Also, I am no rock historian, but it’s interesting to me to see a prominent horn section–especially including a trombone–in a 1970 rock act.

Wikipedia offers Billboard’s numbers on Chicago’s success:

According to Billboard, Chicago was the leading US singles charting group during the 1970s. They have sold over 38 million units in the US, with 22 gold, 18 platinum, and 8 multi-platinum albums.[2][3] Over the course of their career they have had five number-one albums and 21 top-ten singles.

AllMusic suggests the achievement those numbers represent and describes the impact the band, which was founded in 1967:

According to Billboard chart statistics, Chicago is second only to the Beach Boys as the most successful American rock band of all time, in terms of both albums and singles. Judged by album sales alone, as certified by the R.I.A.A., the band does not rank quite so high, but it is still among the Top Ten best-selling U.S. groups ever. If such statements of fact surprise, that’s because Chicago has been singularly underrated since the beginning of its long career, both because of its musical ambitions (to the musicians, rock is only one of several styles of music to be used and blended, along with classical, jazz, R&B, and pop) and because of its refusal to emphasize celebrity over the music. The result has been that many critics have consistently failed to appreciate its music and that its media profile has always been low. At the same time, however, Chicago has succeeded in the ways it intended to. From the beginning of its emergence as a national act, it has been able to fill arenas with satisfied fans. And beyond the impressive sales and chart statistics, its music has endured, played constantly on the radio and instantly familiar to tens of millions. (Continue Reading…)

The temptation was to use one of the many versions of “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” as the second video in this post. However, it’s better to go with a lesser known–and lesser played out–song. So, below, is “Make Me Smile.”

What started as The Big Thing and morphed to The Chicago Transit Authority and, finally, Chicago, continues. Last week, the current lineup performed with Robin Thicke at the Grammys.