Chicago, “Beginnings” from Chicago Transit Authority (1969): Saturdays in the Park

Share this:

Chicago’s “Beginnings” is a sensational amalgam of the late ’60s jazz-rock movement. It starts with Terry Kath’s easy listening, pop-rock electric guitar opening then continues in the same direction with composer Robert Lamm’s lounge-lizard lead vocal.

The main arrangement is then jettisoned into the horn section’s rock ‘n roll riff that features one of Chicago’s greatest moments – the magnificent, right-on-the money, trumpet/trombone battle between Lee Loughnane and horn-section leader James Pankow. Finally – as the rest of the band fades into the background – drummer Danny Seraphine, accompanied by several hand-held percussion players, takes the song home.

“Beginnings” is one of Chicago’s crowning achievements. It’s near-perfect arrangement is only marred by the good but too-long coda by Seraphine and friends. Perhaps that is why it has always been eliminated in concert.

Chicago’s original album arrangement on 1969’s Chicago Transit Authority clocked in at a muscular 7:54. The single version was cut to 2:47, leaving off most of the best parts of the song. It’s a travesty that Top 40 radio didn’t embrace the whole track. Knocking a few seconds off of the percussion ending would have done the trick. Radio played “Hey Jude,” and that clocked in at 7:11 – but then, of course, the Beatles got away with anything.

Charlie Ricci

Charlie Ricci

Charlie Ricci maintains Bloggerhythms, where he talks about music, concerts, and a wide range of other musical topics. In August 2008, his site placed at No. 87 on a list of the Top 100 music-related blogs according to Alexa, a web ranking service. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Charlie Ricci
Share this:
Close