Records That Made History

The Ides of March – Vehicle

todayJanuary 27, 2024 7

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Vehicle is the debut album by Ides Of March, released in 1970. The album’s title single, “Vehicle”, became the fastest selling single in Warner history.

The Ides Of March were local heroes in Chicago for several years, playing British Invasion-style pop and enjoying local hits with songs like “You Will Not Listen” and “Roller Coaster” before becoming nationally known in the early 1970s with the hit single “Vehicle”, a classic mix of rock and soul, with strong brass, which gave the track more than a simple resemblance to the sound of Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago, who were also enjoying great success at that time. Following the single’s chart success, Ides Of March rushed into the studio to record Vehicle, with recording and mixing taking place within a week. In addition to the amazing “Vehicle” Ides Of March play the soul-pop “Home”, the untouched folk-rock “Aire Of Good Feeling” and the hard rock “Bald Medusa”.

In his retrospective review for Allmusic, critic Mark Deming wrote that “the band sound tight, enthusiastic and emphatic across all ten tracks” and that the album “documents both the band’s limitations and strengths, ultimately presenting after a week of work a good project that shows that the Ides Of March had more up their sleeve than just one hit.

Listening to “Vehicle” and some of the other songs on the album that feature brass, Blood, Sweat & Tears comes to mind, which Jim Peterick, the group’s lead singer and guitarist, fully acknowledges as an influence in their sound both the band and their singer, David Clayton-Thomas. But under no circumstances are Ides Of March copies of Blood, Sweat & Tears. Sure, they’ve got the brass and soul-rock guitar riffs, but they also incorporate some jazzy improvisational parts, with the ability to properly dress up tracks like “High On A Hilltop” with pure pop perfection, a song that was second side of the single, but it deserved to be a hit in its own right.

While Peterik’s original compositions are very impressive, it’s worth noting both of the album’s covers. One is the medley of “Wooden Ships” by CSN with “Dharma For One” by Jethro Tull. The other, even more impressive, is the 9-minute performance with incredible brass of “Eleanor Rigby” by the Beatles.

Looking at the cover if you’re thinking that’s weird, the band felt the same way, blaming the whole thing on Warner Brothers’ design department. But the music we find on this album is far from strange, right at the forefront of any listener who likes bands like Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago or Tower of Power.

Through Vehicle I select the amazing cover of “Eleanor Rigby”.

Tracklist

1. Vehicle 02:55
2. Factory Band 03:02
3. The Sky Is Falling 02:48
4. Home 03:36
5. Wooden Ships/Dharma for One 07:14
6. Bald Medusa 03:02
7. Aire of Good Feeling 03:14
8. Time for Thinking 02:30
9. One Woman Man 03:14
10. Symphony for Eleanor (Eleanor Rigby) 09:43
11. High on a Hillside 02:53
12. Lead Me Home, Gently 02:56
13. Melody 02:47
14. Vehicle (Single Version) 02:55

Written by: Dimitris Sigalos

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