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Reviews: Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority:

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Reviews: 3

Review by Marpow February 21, 2015 (8 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Chicago: The Chicago Transit Authority: 2014 MOFI Release, Hybrid SACD Stereo Only.

In a word, spectacular. My review is not to debate stereo vs multichannel. My previous versions where original LP, cassette, CD and Itunes file.

Real Life: This album was so fantastic back in the day playing on underground FM and AM stations at the same time. Everybody in my neighborhood had it. As a double album I could walk from my White friends, to my Black friends and my Latino friends houses and everybody would put there favorite part on the platter and we would all listen, on whatever crappy stereo was in the room. Good times.

This MOFI release is so great, I am compelled to write a track by track review but that is not my style of reviews. A 12 track block buster if there ever was one.

Performance: Over the top, great. Released in April of 1969, this, after Blood, Sweat and Tears second album. The rock guitar, catchy pop songs and big horn section has now caught on. This single disc has something for everybody, Latin rhythms, tracks with complete guitar feedback, rock solid performance, big horns, in every manner. Back then as I do now I find the track Free Form Guitar very ego driven. That said, in this new release you can hear the strings vibrate with there amplified intensity.

Stereo Sonics: Over the top great. I said that about the performance also. Many little nuances here and there I have not heard before. Little tape noise and clicks at end of some tracks. I love hearing little imperfections as it makes it feel more real to me. I am listening to a recording, not a live band. Stereo separation is perfect and very room filling. While I listened I did not find at any time irritated by the mix, wondering why did they put that there or that there. When I listened to the first opening track I knew I was in for a sonic treat. It just keeps getting better, when I can hear the fingers on strings of opening bass line on "I'm A Man", I am happy. The times when they have the heavy percussion parts on a couple tracks this release really stands out in all it's glory.
I listened at home via HDMI outs from player to receiver, PCM signal at 88.2Khz.
The best part about being a hybrid SACD is I also get to play it in my car, and of course I loved it in the car also.

Packaging: Cardboard gatefold as per original. Original liner notes and basic, as always, MOFI re-release liner notes.

Well, I don't need to end with, "glad I have it", that would be an understatement.

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Review by analogue March 12, 2015 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
1969/ 12 tracks/ 77 minutes

This 1969 album is considered a semi classic by most fans. While I really like the experimentation of horns and guitars and jazz and rock I do find a few problems with this release that most people don't mention. Track form guitar comes out of left field and leaves me a little cold. I feel the continuity of the whole record gets confused with this long cut. I love Jimi Hendrix too...............but this cut is over the top for me and I fell doesn't belong. The other aspect is that the first 5 tracks are much happier and positive in tone while the remaining 7 tracks turn darker for my tastes. This is my preference and I mention it only in passing............for conversations sake. This album features 4 hits that are included on most hits packages.

The sound quality of this sacd is excellent. Chicago recordings will never sound perfect mind you.....but this sacd is remarkable in what it does do. For starters while recorded in 1969 it sounds much better than Mofi's previous sacd effort that being Chicago v1 from 1973. This new sacd sounds almost pristine and fresh by comparison.....something I never would have suspected. Some have complained that the treble region is lacking. Knowing Mofi this is part of the tapes. If there was treble on other releases this is artificially created. Saying that there is some nice upper information but it varies from track to track. This sacd is nicely transparent and I have to believe it will surprise and delight most fans of this record.

Not every track is recorded as full as others. I found track two a little recessed for my tastes. Track three wider than Ive heard it prior to this sacd. But overall this album, taken in its entirety is pretty awesome. Sometimes in previous versions I found that Chicago sounded dark.....almost murky. Not so with this new sacd. The sound is vital and full of much better than expected. With Early Chicago we are not going to get the greatest recordings...there are limitations. On this release bass is impressive but not the deepest or most impactful. Horns sound terrific but they don't have gusts of air around them etching them in space. Vocals are pure, drums deep but not as deep as other recordings.

With the volume turned up very high this sacd kicks butt while not being true 100 percent audiophile. I guess what Im trying to say is that we don't need recordings to be perfect to get awesome sound. This is such an example. With this releases we have the guts of the thing and this matters most. Heck............95 percent of all recordings are NOT audiophile.

Highly recommended. Loud is the way to play this sacd. An essential Chicago sacd to own.

Terrific job Mr. Loverde

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Review by madisonears March 22, 2015 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
It is always difficult to simply assign star ratings to old rock music such as this. Does one rate according to absolute values of all known recordings, modern and old, or rather in the context of the subject recording's limitations? Pop and rock music has generally been given pretty poor recording quality, but there was a glimmer of hope with some late 60's Columbia releases such as this.

Only now, with this very high resolution remastering and SACD rendering, does one realize that our methods of audio reproduction extract every bit of fidelity available from the original source, and all the faults are revealed. In some cases, we can also appreciate that the original recording was somewhat advanced compared to others of the time.

This is obviously a multi-track recording, so the sound of any group of instruments is isolated from all other groups. The horns are almost entirely represented on the left channel, with guitar entirely on the right. Drums, organ, vocals fall somewhere between, but not necessarily centered. When the trio or quartet of guitar, bass, drums and organ is playing, the right channel falls nearly silent. This artificial representation of space can be accommodated by the brain, but the other problem it presents is that the soundstage never expands beyond the speakers as it easily can with many classical and jazz SACD's. There is added depth, but only within the space of each speaker. There is far more front-to-back layering than the CD, but very little width or true horizontal space. It's definitely the best it's ever been, but it is still a limitation.

The high frequencies are far more open and detailed than any other incarnation I've heard, with all traces of artificial brightness removed. Previous CD's sound harsh and wiry in comparison. Bass is very tight with superb clarity and impact. The mids are truthful and sweet, with very realistic guitar and vocals.

I have been waiting for the release of this SACD since the medium was first announced as a Sony partnership in 1999. I figured this was one of Columbia's better recordings and surely they would resurrect it to take advantage of high resolution. But the music biz sucks, so we had to wait all this time for a company such as MOFI with the balls to go get this bit of history and serve it up for us. Was it worth the wait, and is it worth the price? Yes, I think so. Although this rock with horns format (there is no real jazz here) is now a little dated, one can still hear the originality and freedom that were ubiquitous at the time. This music comes from Chicago Transit Authority when they were still more band than brand. Even the revolutionary if self-indulgent "Free Form Guitar," twice as long as it needed to be, can still sound exciting when it's reproduced so well. This album came from a time and a place (yes, I was there, 18 years old, blasting this through my GE portable) and should be enjoyed in that context. It's as much a classic as Bach and Mozart. If you can get in the spirit of '69, some of this still kicks hard. There aren't many rock recordings from this period that sound any better, and many are far worse.

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