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

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People forget that “Liberation,” the final track on 1969’s Chicago Transit Authority, is a James Pankow composition because his 14:38 instrumental is really just a vehicle for guitarist Terry Kath to display his talents.

“Liberation” opens with a lively horn chart that provides no clues of what is in store for Chicago on the rest of the tune. This upbeat, opening salvo segues into a long, loud and frantic Kath solo that is heavily influenced by one of his fans, Jimi Hendrix. He received solid support from bandmates Robert Lamm on organ, Peter Cetera on the bass and Danny Seraphine on drums who really shines here.

The arrangement abruptly changes and we find Chicago’s versatile axman heading toward a reprise of “Free Form Guitar.” However, before he reaches that questionable musical graveyard, the rest of Chicago – with the horns joining in on the now atonal affair – screech like a herd of stampeding elephants.

Then comes another change in direction. Terry Kath reveals his softer side with some quite tasteful, gentle strumming on his electric that is suitable for a coffeehouse stage, before Chicago gradually increases both the tempo and intensity and rides the track home.

Unlike anything else Chicago ever recorded, this totally live-in-the-studio blast of rock ‘n roll – with no overdubs or studio trickery added – is admittedly not for everybody. Listeners who prefer tightly arranged, more conventional fare could be put off by “Liberation,” but if you’re looking for something freewheeling and on the wild side, you may find a lot to like here.

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
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