scene

 

in the beginning
For a long time Chicago wasn't thought of as a hotbed of rock 'n' roll. Chicago Blues—now that's what made Chicago famous. From Big Bill Broonzy and Memphis Minnie to Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf on to Buddy Guy and Hound Dog Taylor. Soul too—Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield, Tyrone Davis and the Chi-lites. Then there was Chicago's Chess Records who recorded not only some of the great blues and soul recordings but also Chuck Berry. So it goes Blues had a baby and it's name was Rock 'n' Roll.
in the middle
For the most part Chicago in the '60s didn't produce many groundbreaking rock bands. It did yield a few interesting garage rock songs released on the local Dunwich label but they made little noise on the national music scene. The Shadows of Knight had a hit with a toned down cover version of Them's "Gloria". The New Colony Six, The Cryin' Shames, the Buckinghams ("Kind of a Drag") and the American Breed ("Bend Me, Shape Me") received decent airplay. In the 1970 the Ides of March had a hit with "Vehicle". Then there's the Chicago Transit Authority who became simply Chicago and hit it big with a sort of jazz-rock hybrid before becoming a vehicle for Peter Cetera's power ballads. But things would be changing in the '80s with the arrival of the Wax Trax record label with it's promotion of beat heavy, electronic industrial music and the beginnings of Chicago indie rock.
in the end
Wax Trax released not only industrial music from European but also homegrown talent such as Ministry and it's offshoot The Revolting Cocks. Touch & Go label's artists were more thrash and guitar heavy with Jesus Lizard and Urge Overkill on their roster. Punk and hardcore bands such as the Effigies, Big Black and Naked Raygun played former Chicago venues O'Bannions and Tut's in the early '80s. Cabaret Metro (now Metro) opened in 1982 with REM as their first show and continue to bring the latest bands to town along with supporting local acts. With the rise of the underground and alternative rock in the '90s some of Chicago's own reached national attention. The Smashing Pumpkins became one of the biggest bands of the decade with the release of Siamese Dreams in 1993. Veruca Salt had a hit with "Seether" and Liz Phair came to national attention when she released her Exile In Guyville album. Former Big Black leader Steve Albini produced Nirvana's In Utero and became one of the most sought after producers and continues to be a thorn in the music industry's side. Still there are Chicago bands that haven't been big sellers nationally but are just as important to the vitality of the Chicago scene. Tortoise and the Sea and Cake make music with electronic and ambient sounds. Eleventh Dream Day is Chicago guitar rock at it's finest. Red Red Meat's helter skelter rock gave way to leader Tim Rutili's more folk influenced Califone. Home town Alt-country label Bloodshot Records releases albums from the Waco Brothers, the Blacks, Devil In A Woodpile, Neko Case and Kelly Hogan. Then there's Wilco. And so it goes...

Flash by Mineno-Momidiba/flashkit.com


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