Tuesday, June 28, 2022


Let me just head off all of the WTFs. Chicago was not all bland AOR crap, albeit they mostly were. Let's get to the meat. Years ago I saw an interview with Jimi Hendrix by Dick Cavett. Cavett asked him if there were any current guitarists he admired and he answered Terry Kath. Kath was a founding member of Chicago, so out of the gate that sounds dubious. But check this video. I advise you to start from the beginning and cut a little slack for early Chicago. They were harder than most of us, who quit listening after the first few LPs, will remember. Stick to it until 2:56. You'll see why Kath got Hendrix's attention.

I posted that video on YouTube and got reactions that were all over the map. The guys who played guitar generally liked it. One friend questioned "Did [me] just direct me to watch a 2-minute guitar solo?" That was a friend who knows me from the post-punk rock crowd. My brother said "I did not see that on my bingo card" which got a few laughing emojis. The biggest surprise was from a friend named Robert, who I've known for years. He was one half one of a well known late seventies industrial duo. They were a wall of noise, in a good way.

When I posted that Chicago video, Robert hepped me to "Free Form Guitar" from the debut Chicago Transit Authority LP. Ho-ly shit. It's just full-on distorted, feeding back totally improvised grinding, wailing guitar. One guy, Terry Kath. Robert mentioned "My brother had the record at the time, that was basically the only track i ever listened to." I answered "Judging by early [his duo] I'd say it was probably an ear opener at a younger age. 'More of this please.'" He answered that it, the song, was definitely an influence. Compare the two below. Back to Kath, there's also a link to a documentary about him, which I haven't watched yet but the few snippets I've seen looked good.


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