Chicago Transit Authority (in Quad) Who needs surround when quad is back. At least it is on Chicago Transit Authority — precisely a remastered early 70s quadraphonic mix, previously only available on 8-track tape (!), now available on DVD and perfectly playable on a 5.1 surround system. Thanks to the imagination of Rhino Handmade, it’s now possible to hear classic Chicago in an incredible multi-channel format with warmth and redeemable value. Chicago’s debut album was a wildly experimental venture on a variety of fronts. First and foremost, of course, was the fusion of brass and woodwinds with drums and guitars — not so much in the sense of what Miles Davis was doing in the fusion realm, but more on the basis of straight jazz accentuations tastefully added to rock frameworks. With keyboardist Robert Lamm, guitarist Terry Kath and bassist Peter Cetera sharing lead vocals, James Pankow, Lee Loughnane and Walter Parazaider blowing the horns, and Danny Seraphine tying it all together with his exceptional command of the drums, Chicago had the chops, the songs and a sound to take the world by storm. Released in April 1969, Chicago Transit Authority dazzled the critics and eventually won over the public, yielding three Top 40 singles, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?,” “Beginnings,” and “Questions 67 and 68.” The album set up camp on the charts for over six months, and was soon certified gold, platinum and double platinum. It was released as a double record by virtue of the quantity and quality of material. The singles comprising the first portion of the record part the sea for more adventurous terrain. Terry Kath’s “Free Form Guitar” was the kind of exercise that inspired Hendrix. The guitarist’s gift for heavy riffing is showcased on the crawling rocker “South California Purples.” Even the horns on this track sound wicked. The group’s political leanings catch fire on “Prologue, August 29, 1968,” awash in sound bytes from the 1968 Democratic Convention in (where else) Chicago as the melody haplessly leaps about in grand pomposity. After the live work-out on “Liberation,” it’s good to be still standing. Armed with a breadth of instrumentation — keys, guitars, horns, percussion — Chicago Transit Authority undoubtedly lends itself to the immersive qualities of quad. A guitar lead on the right front, a Fender Rhodes on the rear left, a trumpet booming from the rear right…you get the idea the producers were particularly tuned into the partitioned possibilities of multi-channel. The DVD‘s inner sleeve includes charts and technical notes for the those who can truly appreciate the intricacies of the mix. You just have to love it. Who knows, perhaps this opens the door for other quad releases, notably Alan Parson’s mid 70s mix of The Dark Side Of The Moon, to make their way to the public’s consciousness. Hey, one can dream can’t he? If they’re handled with as much care and thought to detail, right down the replicated gatefold album, like Chicago Transit Authority, what collector could resist?