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Articles Home » 1977 Articles » Cain, Jonathan (Band) - 1977 Windy City Breakdown
Cain, Jonathan (Band) - 1977 Windy City Breakdown

ARTIST: Cain, Jonathan (Band)
ALBUM: Windy City Breakdown
LABEL: Bearsville
YEAR: 1977
CD REISSUE: 2006, Wounded Bird Records, WOU-6969


LINEUP: Jonathan Cain - lead vocals, keyboards * Jimmy Arnold - guitars, background vocals * Gary Richwine - bass, background vocals * Tommy Cain - drums, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Windy City Breakdown * 02 Lay Low Joe (Holiday On Ice) * 03 Rock It Down * 04 Moon Child * 05 Rollercoaster Baby * 06 Spinning My Wheels * 07 Go Now! * 08 Your Lady Or Your Life


No need for introduction as Jonathan Cain's contribution to melodic rock has been enormous as a member of The Babys, Journey and Bad English, but here's his auspicious debut which drew hardly any attention in 1977. The Chicago-born Cain played locally in a variety of bands and recorded a demo album at the legendary Golden Voice studios in Pekin, Illinois; the same building Styx, Starcastle and Head East utilized before burning to the ground under questionable circumstances. Frustrated with his options, a 1972 move to Los Angeles connected Cain with brother Tommy, guitarist Jimmy Arnold and bassist Gary Richwine who previous claim to fame was a stint with Blue Cheer guitarist Leigh Stephens. The Illinois demo came to the attention of Wolfman Jack's management team and a single was recorded and released in 1975 on October Records 'Till It's Time to Say Goodbye'/'Ladies Night'. Hard to find these days, the A-side became a regional hit, landing the band a coveted national television appearance on Dick Clark's 'American Bandstand' and eventually under the direction of former Janis Joplin manager Albert Grossman; and a contract with Bearsville Records.

The Songs
The deal wasn't the best and recording the album was a test of the band's endurance. Put to tape in Woodstock, New York while suitably hammered through most of the sessions as well as notably mastered at the wrong speed; 'Windy City Breakdown' could have been a disaster. No, it's not Journey silly, not even close and yes, the production seriously blows although it's very much in the mid-70s pop style and I can't help but be reminded of people like Richard Wagner, the early Billy Joel albums and Steely Dan. Jon's knack for hook-laden songwriting while not fully in play does make several appearances throughout the LP; including the up-tempo title track backed by REO Speedwagon styled piano and a twangy guitar solo, its possibly the best song here although the chorus on the Steely Dan-ish 'Lay Low Joe (Holiday On Ice)' is damn catchy too. 'Rock It Down' has a Boz Scaggs feel although the toothless mix doesn't give the song its proper due. Of course Cain handles all the lead vocal chores in his usual homogeneous but energetic style and the interpretation of 'Go Now' while no threat to the better known Moody Blues version, is more than respectable. Closing out on a heavier note with 'Your Lady Or Your Life' and shades of City Boy; the band appeared on the Warner Brothers comp 'Limo' released the same year and stood out like a sore thumb. Hard to say if a chance at a second album would have done the trick.

In Summary
Endless L.A. club dates and little if any support from Bearsville who by all accounts disliked the album intensely, the Jonathan Cain Band after three years of giving it their best shot, called it a day in late '77. A year later and a meeting with Robbie Patton, tipped Cain to audition with The Babys and from here; well you know the rest of the story..

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#1 | reyno-roxx on December 11 2011 14:41:04
I certainly appreciated this album far more years later when I bought the CD reissue. My original vinyl copy has been in Dave Ling's collection now for some years!
#2 | dangerzone on December 21 2011 07:26:26
Pekin, Illinois, a miserable place if there ever was one!
#3 | Eric on December 21 2011 14:08:24
Its a suburb of Peoria, but at the epicenter of Midwest rock in the late '60s and early '70s. The tiny Memorial Arena (one of the smallest-least likely venues I've ever seen) and Frontier Auditorium hosted numerous concerts (Journey, Angel, Kiss, Sparks, Molly Hatchet, REO you name it..)and Golden Voice was a big draw for so many bands. Here's some shots of a 1980 Judas Preist show:
#4 | dangerzone on December 21 2011 14:21:25
That's interesting Eric. I lived outside Peoria for almost ten years and worked in Pekin for a long time. It's a shame I missed those glory years in that area, because there was nothing resembling that in my time there.
#5 | Eric on December 21 2011 15:54:08
Yeah, it was pretty Norman Rockwell when I was there in 2001. I went to the old address for Golden Voice studios and even talked to the janitor at the Memorial Arena who had been there forever and told me a few concert-related stories. It was the same venue REO played its second or third gig way back when and the band although based in Champaign had a lot of connections to Pekin due to Richrath. As it happens, I have an original Kansas/ Point Blank concert poster from a Pekin show- Oct, 1976.
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