Chicago Was Smiling

Chicago - Make Me Smile

In many ways Chicago changed the image of Top 40 Rock radio. For starters, they had a "Big Band" sound and did lyrical and melodic songs, but there was also a heavy beat that sounded great on the air and fit in well with the other hits of the time. Here are Music Historian John Hale's comments — TDR

The late sixties and early seventies saw an interesting attempt to blend two disparate music genres into one new and popular music. Al Kooper, a veteran session player from the mid-sixties, was the first to try to blend jazz and rock into something new by forming the group Blood, Sweat, & Tears in the late sixties. Kooper, who rarely stuck around one of his projects very long, stayed for their first album, "Child Is Father To The Man," before being replaced by Canadian David Clayton Thomas, the lead singer through B.S.&T.'s run of popular hits into the seventies.

A year or so after Blood, Sweat, & Tears came together, a new band, the Chicago Transit Authority, formed up and released their first album. It was followed up the group's second album, simply called "Chicago," since the group shortened their name. The first hit off of the album was also the group's first across-the-board smash, "Make Me Smile." It had been part of a seven-part movement called "Ballet for A Girl in Buchannan."

"Make Me Smile," much shortened time wise to make it radio-friendly, helped Chicago kick off the seventies in great style by topping out at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in March of 1970.

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