Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Transit Authority Figure

OK, forgive me in advance but we're closing out the month here with a birthday thing about a favorite drummer of mine, and it might get polemical.
Full disclosure: I identify as a drummer and hate it when my battering brethren get the shaft.
Fuller disclosure: today's hero helped start one of the most beloved bands in American history, and I've been meaning to blog them for six years and just never got to it. That changes today.
This has to happen because a couple of weeks ago I watched the Chicago documentary that's on Netflix or wherever, and in all honesty it pissed me off.
The way this guy was treated by his cohorts, for me, ranks as some of the pettiest, sorriest shit ever to take place between bandmates.
It's quite a story, this group. Really symbolic of the total and precipitous decline of Western civilization if you ask me. The transcendent degenerating into the inevitably transactive. Baby, what a big surprise.
It's sad because there'd never been anything like it before they showed up. Beginning life as an underground concept -- the full, molecular integration of horns into a rock band hadn't really yet happened up to then -- and progressing through monumental, almost crushing success through the Seventies, to the point where they could have released spoken word poems about their dreams as singles and brought down the house in global commercial terms.
The inevitable rot began to set in as they discovered a vein of songwriting that would lead to (shudder) Yacht Rock. Then a thoroughly ridiculous and unnecessary tragedy struck down their (oh sweet Jesus, was he a motherfucker) guitar player at the peak of their popularity. Fear not, I'm gonna get to him in January if I live that long.
The bass player -- principal architect of the shift and, in a group who at first intended not to feature a frontperson, increasingly the focal point -- began to take the thing completely over, to the increasing consternation of his buddies.
Well, consternation and unimaginable success and wealth, as every single ballad the bass player dude wrote bought each guy in the band another Swiss Alps villa or ten as it shot to #1 and beyond in the puerile, bad-drum-sounds-abound 1980s.
Eventually they started to shift entirely to electronic drums and the somnabulent sterility of the click track, and a feel drummer such as our birthday hero was forced out in the most humiliating fashion possible: being told his playing sucked by people who had essentially abandoned the ethos of their organic style for the love of Billboard magazine and the CD collections of upper-middle-class Caucasian housewives in the suburbs.
Maybe they should have changed the name to "Evanston" or something. Anyway, he wrote about all of this in his book about it, apparently. Eventually he started a California branch of the group that brought him to prominence, and I don't think most of the original cats and he speak much, if at all.
So Danny Seraphine -- the original pulse of Chicago and as responsible as anyone for their status, even given all the subsequent silly sadness, as one of the most classic and revered American groups of our lifetimes -- is 71 today.
Polemics on the decline of the music industry and its parallels to the decline of civilization aside, let's celebrate, can we? This is among their most fantastic bootlegs -- dating, as it does, from the peak of their powers and before the creeping decline -- and it's here straight off the pre-FM reels for your auditory engagement.
Freedom Hall
Kentucky Exposition Center
Louisville, Kentucky

01 Introduction
02 Call On Me
03 Saturday In the Park
04 Something In This City Changes People
05 Beginnings
06 Ballet for a Girl In Buchannon
   a. Make Me Smile
   b. So Much to Say, So Much to Give
   c. Anxiety's Moment
   d. West Virginia Fantasies
   e. Colour My World
   f. To Be Free
   g. Now More Than Ever
07 Dialogue (Part I & II)
08 Italian from New York
09 Hanky Panky
10 Life Saver
11 Just You 'n' Me
12 (I've Been) Searchin' So Long
13 25 Or 6 to 4
14 Feelin' Stronger Every Day

Total time: 1:21:33
disc break goes after Track 06

Robert Lamm - keyboards & vocals
Peter Cetera - bass & vocals
Terry Kath - guitar & vocals
Danny Seraphine - drums
Walter Parazaider - saxophones, flute, percussion and vocals
Lee Loughnane - trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion & vocals
James Pankow - trombone & percussion
Laudir de Oliveira - percussion

KBFH Quad pre-FM reels, converted to 16/44 stereo
Here's some more history, this time of a more personal nature: when I was 9, one of the very first records I owned was of Chicago IX, their first "Greatest Hits" platter from 1975.
A while back I made a recreation of it for my phone, to play when I am out and about, but I expanded it to exist as if it had been released after 1977's Chicago XI -- the end of the Terry Kath era -- and not Chicago VIII as it was.
It's got a unique edit of one of their tunes made by myself, and it now fills up a single CD. Of course, I would never place a link to get it in a post such as this, consisting of officially-released material as it does. And I would never, ever put such a link right here if I somehow did that. Never, never, never I tell you.
OK? There's your August augury for 2019; I am hard after a September to remember for y'all, all in all. Tune in next week for the start of it.
And don't miss out on all this Chicago fare, either... I have another superanniversary post lined up on them in a few weeks too. They were as good as music gets -- kind of like their country of origin -- before some of them exchanged dignity for dollars and disrespected their friends, such as today's birthday guy, born this day in 1948.--J.

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