Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday music double-header treat: "25 or 6 to 4" and "Make Me Smile," Chicago (1970)

This is a real treat, children, even if JTW and I are the only ones who really groove on it: some very rare footage of the original, vintage Chicago (then still Chicago Transit Authority, I believe)  performing their signature number 25 or 6 to 4.

What does the title mean? Despite theories and speculations, it is simply a song about writing a song. Bobby Lamm looks up at the time. It's about 3:35 or 3:34am... or, to put it another way...


(We say our Josiah was born at "35 or 6 to 4.") (UPDATE: DAOD points out that beloved grandson Timothe was born 37 or 6 to 4... but pm, in this case, not am.)

That gave you a great peek at the late, great guitarist Terry Kath — most underappreciated guitarist, ever — in all his awesomeness. As is the following, which features both Kath's picking and his awesome, one-of-a-kind jackhammer strum:

27 comments:

Mark Lussier said...

Since I played trumpet back in the day, since Chicago had a brass section with Lee Loughnane was the natural choice for me to follow after I outgrew Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

DJP said...

Yep. There's good brass, and then there's Chicago brass: completely apart. So much so that when Jimmy Pankow (trombone) writes for another group's song (Toto's "Rosanna") they're still unmistakable.

Mike Westfall said...

On the other hand, at that time of the morning, does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

JackW said...

When a band can sound as good or better live than in the studio you know they are special.

David Beirne said...

Daddy, why doesn't anybody make good music any more?

DJP said...

In those days, son, there were giants in the land.

Gilbert said...

Until the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts these guys (and probably Rush and The Moody Blues as well), I refuse to take them very seriously.

threegirldad said...

"second only to the Beach Boys as the most successful American rock band of all time, in terms of both albums and singles"

"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 fundamentalist rock critics have consistently failed to appreciate its music and that its media profile has always been low."
(source)

"[F]undamentalist rock critics"? Now, isn't that interesting.

I always thought that Chicago Transit Authority was their original name. That might make a good trivia question.

DJP said...

Gilbert - what you said times ten.

3GD - < raises hand > Ooh! I know! I know!

DJP said...

JackW

Tell the audience, would you please, your own experience with the guitar.

And after that, please further elucidate your own opinion of Terry Kath as a guitarist, in himself and in comparison to others.

Thank you.

threegirldad said...

Of course you know; you're like some sort of walking encyclopedia of the band. So, you don't get to play.

;-)

DJP said...

Fair enough.

Mike Westfall said...

Conducting a trivia quiz on the internet is kinda pointless, no?

I mean, sure Dan knows the answer, but now so do I because Google is only a few keystrokes and mouse click away...

Always Reforming said...

I was glad to read in WTG that we're allowed to like Chicago after we become Christians!

In my honest opinion, 25 or 6 to 4 is the best single ever released by an American band.

DJP said...

Perhaps not the central message of the boot, AR, but... glad it helped. (c;

Oddly, the song as a whole has not ever been my favorite. However, Terry Kath's lead is I think one of the very best leads, ever, in a studio version of a song. Still can give me chills.

Always Reforming said...

"Rosanna" isn't too far behind...although that one may just be a guilty pleasure.

DJP said...

Maybe sometime I'll just have an open meta for everyone's favorite ten secular rock songs. I'll have to say "secular" folks don't try to out-holy each other.

(c:

threegirldad said...

Mike,

Dan has online trivia quizzes from time to time (but maybe that's over at Pyro more than here?). Anyhow, the way to keep it from being pointless is to do what you did (which is what Dan, iirc, sets down as da rules): If you don't already know, and decide to go searching, just keep the answer to yourself. :-)

And if no one really knows this answer already, Dan might as well get the enjoyment of chiming in.

David said...

And I thought all Bill Graham's videos were "World Wide Pictures". He's more diversified than I thought.

Stephen said...

Those were the two Chicago songs my high school marching band featured one year, and ever since (similar to Mark, though I can't say I've quite outgrown the dirty pleasure of listening to Maynard Ferguson) I've maybe not bought every album of theirs but I have a growing appreciation of their stuff. Sandwiched in the middle of our show was a Blood Sweat and Tears ballad (You Make Me So Happy), though after we decided to cut 'Does Anybody Know What Time It Is" and another BS&T (Spinning Wheel I think?) for timing issues, I wonder why we didn't keep "Time" and not the BS&T to make a full Chicago show... (also I never got a true marching 'solo' like all the cool kids and that 8 bar trumpet at the beginning would have been perfect, but I digress)

That said, I enjoyed the guitar solo here but as a wannabe trumpet I was underwhelmed with the extra fatness, sometimes flatness of the trumpet on the 25 or 6 to 4 riffs, especially with the crisp sound of the popular studio version implanted in my ears forever.

DJP said...

The horns never sounded as full or strong in live performances, and I've probably seen (just guessing) a dozen or so. Actually, I think Lee Loughnane has improved over time, in live performances.

For instance, check out this relatively more recent performance.

christianlady said...

Scroll down and watch the "haters gotta hate" baby crawl to 25 or 6 to 4. Funny moment.

Blessings!

DJP said...

ROFL; thanks, first laugh of the day.

JackW said...

“Tell the audience, would you please, your own experience with the guitar.”

Oh, I’m just a church band guitarist trying not to get in the way of the keyboard and keeping up with the drummer at the same time. I do mostly fingerstyle rhythm as my early influences were Paul Simon, Noel Paul Stookey and classical guitarist Christopher Parkening.

“And after that, please further elucidate your own opinion of Terry Kath as a guitarist, in himself and in comparison to others.”

Terry Kath is in a whole different level of guitarnia, the level where you just have to imagine the sound you want and your hands respond automatically.
I’m guessing that you can’t compare it to others and it is one of those equal, but different experiences.

Solameanie said...

I liked some of Alpert's stuff, but it seemed like he had the range of about an octave. Maynard Ferguson on the other hand . . .

Solameanie said...

Incidentally, I do find it sad that Peter Cetera won't reunite with Chicago, even for a one-off. And that Danny Seraphine still seems to be on the outs with the band. They're not getting any younger. It's time to get it sorted out and forgiven before it's too late.

Bill Honsberger said...

Yes Dan - Real CTA. The Good stuff.
Keep up the good work!