Chicago-based The Ides of March is one of the city’s legacy acts. A group that started in the mid-60s as a British Invasion-inspired rock band, they would morph into a crack R&B-inspired rock band, complete with horn section and the songs to boot. Frontman Jim Peterik would soon turn into a potent songwriter, both with the band he formed, Survivor, as well as his collaborative work with .38 Special, writing their definitive hit, “Hold On Loosely.”
The band’s 1970 single, “Vehicle,” was the vehicle that set Peterik’s career in motion. Released in the early part of the year, the song quickly shot up to the top of the chart, and has since become a staple of classic rock radio playlists, even though it’s a familiar song people know without actually knowing the name of the band. Vehicle, their debut album, continues its title song’s vibe of electric, exciting horn-driven rock, alongside the band’s love of contemporary soul music. “Factory Man” and “Aire of Good Feeling” thrill with their dramatic rise and potent delivery.. A medley of Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s “Wooden Ships” is paired with Jethro Tull’s “Dharma for One,” which is then turned into a big, loud number that doesn’t sound remotely like either band. Ditto for their epic take on The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” here known as “Symphony for Eleanor,” as exciting a take on one of Paul McCartney’s most melancholic numbers.
The Ides of March would release two more albums before disbanding; Peterik would return with a vengeance with Survivor, and after that band’s first run, he would reunite with his Ides of March friends, and to this date, they’re still an active band, playing out and releasing new music. Vehicle is the start of Peterik’s ride—which is well-documented in humorous and occasionally heartbreaking detail in his recent autobiography, Through The Eyes Of The Tiger—and is still an exciting listen 45 years later.
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