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The Chicago Transit Authority recorded this double-barreled follow-up to their eponymously titled 1969 debut effort. The contents of Chicago II (1970) underscore the solid foundation of complex jazz changes with heavy electric rock & roll that the band so brazenly forged on the first set. The septet also continued its ability to blend the seemingly divergent musical styles into some of the best and most effective pop music of the era. One thing that had changed was the band's name, which was shortened to simply Chicago to avoid any potential litigious situations from the city of Chicago's transportation department – which claimed the name as proprietary property. Musically, James Pankow (trombone) was about to further cross-pollinate the band's sound with the multifaceted six-song "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon." The classically inspired suite also garnered the band two of its most beloved hits – the upbeat pop opener "Make Me Smile" as well as the achingly poignant "Color My World" – both of which remained at the center of the group's live sets.
Drummer Billy Cobham was fresh from his success with the Mahavishnu Orchestra when he recorded his debut album, which is still his best. Most of the selections showcase Cobham in a quartet with keyboardist Jan Hammer, guitarist Tommy Bolin, and electric bassist Lee Sklar. Two other numbers include Joe Farrell on flute and soprano and trumpeter Jimmy Owens with guitarist John Tropea, Hammer, bassist Ron Carter, and Ray Barretto on congas. The generally high-quality compositions (which include "Red Baron") make this fusion set a standout, a strong mixture of rock-ish rhythms and jazz improvising.
At the time these tracks were cut, 1967 and 1968, R.L. Burnside was working on a plantation in Coldwater, MS, cutting silage. Folklorist George Mitchell was on a mission to record unknown blues singers down South. Mitchell heard about Burnside and paid him a visit, asking if he could record him. That night Mitchell returned to Burnside's place with a case of beer and some whiskey. Ten months later, Burnside had his first release. While these 14 tracks didn't jump start Burnside's career, they are stark, organic, and timeless, just Burnside and his acoustic guitar running down mainly traditional material that he arranged. This is an absolute treasure for Burnside aficionados and casual blues listeners alike.
Recorded in Japan in July 1973, this massive, three-LP live album was available outside the United States in 1974 but held back from domestic release in the U.S. It features the same "New Santana Band" that recorded Welcome, and combines that group's jazz and spiritual influences with performances of earlier Latin rock favorites like "Oye Como Va."
Nyro peaked early, and Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, just her second album, remains her best. It's not only because it contains the original versions of no less than three songs that were big hits for other artists: "Sweet Blindness" (covered by the 5th Dimension), "Stoned Soul Picnic" (also covered by the 5th Dimension), and "Eli's Comin'" (done by Three Dog Night). It's not even just because those three songs are so outstanding. It's because the album as a whole is so outstanding, with its invigorating blend of blue-eyed soul, New York pop, and early confessional singer/songwriting. Nyro sang of love, inscrutably enigmatic romantic daredevils, getting drunk, lonely women, and sensual desire with an infectious joie de vivre. The arrangements superbly complemented the material with lively brass, wailing counterpoint backup vocals, and Nyro's own ebullient piano.