The Ides of March

Vehicle

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The Ides of March had been local heroes in Chicago for several years, playing British Invasion-styled pop and enjoying regional hits with "You Wouldn't Listen" and "Roller Coaster" before they finally broke out nationwide in early 1970 with the hit single "Vehicle." A canny mixture of rock and soul, "Vehicle" was fortified with the group's powerful horn section, which gave the tune more than a passing resemblance to the sound of Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago, both of whom were also enjoying major chart success at the time. After the single hit the charts, the Ides of March were rushed into the studio to cut an album, and Vehicle was supposedly recorded and mixed within the space of a week. To their credit, the band's barnstorming days in Chicago certainly paid off; despite the tight deadline, the band sounds tight, enthusiastic, and emphatic on all ten tracks, and the songs cover a broader range than just the punchy sound of "Vehicle." The Ides of March branch off into the soulful pop of "Home," the upbeat folk-rock of "Aire of Good Feeling," the hard rock snarl of "Bald Medusa," and ambitious extended covers of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" and Crosby, Stills & Nash's "Wooden Ships" (interpolated with Jethro Tull's "Dharma for One"). The band is instrumentally solid throughout, the harmonies are on point, and the horn lineup hits harder than their peers in Chicago or BS&T, but lead vocalist Jim Peterik has a tendency to go melodramatic (which should come as no surprise to folks who heard the single), and as a lyricist he occasionally trips into the laughable (it's impressive that he can sing "I need a truck/To unload my head/I got enough/To fill a shed" with a straight face, but it's hard to say why he bothered). Ultimately, Vehicle documents this band's limitations as well as its strengths, but ultimately it's a good week's work, and shows the Ides of March had more up their sleeve than their only hit.

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