Saturday, March 7, 2015

Chicago: I'm A Man

Released originally as an album cut from Chicago’s debut LP “Chicago Transit Authority” in 1969, the band’s interpretation of the Spencer Davis Group’s “I’m A Man” finally earned its place in the hearts of Americans with its re-release as B-side in 1971. Because Chicago’s second album was intensely popular, Columbia Records decided to reissue the band’s first single “Questions 67 and 68.”

The first time around in 1969, “Questions 67 and 68” only charted at #71. “Listen” was the single’s original flip side and would return to this status with the issue of “Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is” released in late 1970. When “Questions 67 and 68” was re-released in 1971, it did considerably better at #24. In addition, radio did the band one better and flipped the single and played “I’m A Man.” It charted as well, but never cracked the Top 40, as it peaked at #49.

The song is unique in that all three lead singers of Chicago each sing a verse in the triplets of verses. Terry Kath sings the first verses, Peter Cetera sings the second in the series, and Robert Lamm rounds out the verses. The album version song also features an extended drum solo by Danny Seraphine. Kath lead guitar and Lamm’s Hammond organ shine on this cut. When not playing their respective horns, Jimmy Pankow, Lee Loughnane, and Walt Parazaider added a variety of percussion.

In addition, Chicago’s debut album was a double album release. This was highly unusual for a yet unknown band to be afforded this opportunity by their record company. The experiment proved quite successful without the help of any hit singles. “Chicago Transit Authority” peaked at #17 in 1969. Although “Questions 67 and 68” had a brief run at success in 1969, it and the other singles from the album (“Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is” and “Beginnings”) were hits much later.

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