Band members               Related acts

- Mike Been -- bass, guitar, backing vocals (replaced 

  Billy Jones) (1970)
- Peter Cetera -- vocals, bass (1968)
- Jim Donlinger -- vocals, lead guitar (1968-70)
- Tom Dolinger -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Billy Herman) (1970)
- Billy Herman -- drums, backing vocals (1968-69)
- Billy Jones -- bass, backing vocals (replaced 

  Peter Cetera) (1968-69)
- Jim Nyeholt -- keyboards (1968-69) 



- Peter Cetera (solo efforts)
- Chicago (Peter Cetera)
- The Exceptions (Billy Herman)
- Lovecraft (Michael Been and Jim Dolinger)
- New Colony Six (Billy Herman)
- Rotary Connection (Mike Been and Tom Dolinger) 



Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Aorta

Company: Columbia

Catalog: CS-9785

Year: 1969

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: minor ring, edge and corner wear; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: not yet listed

Price: $80.00

Cost: $20.00


Originally known as The Exception, singer/guitarist Jim Donlinger, drummer Billy Herman, bassist Billy Jones and keyboard player Jim Nyeholt started out as a top-40 cover band. By the mid-1960s the quartet was adding original material to their repertoire, eventually catching the attention of producer Bill Traut and Atlantic Records. A 1969 single "Strange" b/w "Shape of Things To Come" (Atlantic 45-2445) failed to sell, but caught the attention of Columbia Records, which promptly signed the band. 

Produced by Traut and Donlinger, 1969's "Aorta" showcased one of the better slices of late-1960s major label psychedelia. Almost a concept piece, the individual numbers were strung together by a series of segues ("Main Vein" sections I through IV). Featuring largely original material (three of the four members contributing songs), the collection offered up a nice mÚlange of poppier numbers (The Buckinghams-styled "Magic Bed" and "Sleep Tight") and harder edged, more experimental efforts (the psych-flavored "What's in My Mind's Eye" and "Catalyptic"). Columbia also chose to included a rerecorded version of "Strange" which b/w "Ode to Missy Mxyzosptik" was subsequently released as a single (Columbia catalog number 4-44870).    Sure, it wasn't a major creative statement or something that would drastically change your life, but full of nice fuzz guitar, interesting melodies, and weird studio effects, it made for a solid player; every track worth hearing.   Besides, when's the last time you heard such a glowing review? A minor chart success, the album peaked at # 167. (Released with a gatefold sleeve, the original album art was certainly interesting ...)

"Aorta" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Main Vein I (Jim Donlinger) - 2:17
2.) Heart Attack (Jim Donlinger - Jim Nyeholt) - 2:30
3.) What's in My Mind's Eye (G. Dolinger) - 2:47
4.) Magic Bed (Jim Donlinger - D. Hoagland) - 2:37
5.) Main Vein II (Jim Donlinger - Jim Nyeholt) - 1:25
6.) Sleep Tight (Russ Titleman - L. George) - 4:36
7.) Catalyptic (J. Dalton - G. Montgomery) - 3:32


(side 2)

1.) Main Vein III - 0:42
2. ) Sprinkle Road to Cork Street (Jim Nyeholt - D. Hoagland) - 3:05
3.) Ode to Missy Mxyzosptik (Jim Donlinger) - 3:08

4.) Strange (D. Hoagland) - 4:18
5.) A Thousand Thoughts (Jim Donlinger- Billy Herman) - 3:48
6.) Thoughts and Feelings/Main Vein IV (Jim Donlinger) - 4:07


Genre: country-rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Aorta 2

Company: Happy Tiger

Catalog: HT-1010

Year: 1970

Country/State: Chicago, Illinois

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: minor ring and edge wear

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4242

Price: $80.00

Cost: $37.75




Dropped by Columbia Records after releasing an album and a single, the band underwent a series of personnel changes that saw original drummer Billy Harman and bassist Bobby Jones replaced by former Rotary Connection members Tom Dolinger and Mike Been.  Picked up by the small Southern California-based Happy Tiger label, 1970 saw the revamped band release the cleverly titled "Aorta 2".   Produced by Bill Traut and Jim Donlingher, the second album also saw the band undergoing a major change in musical direction.  All but abandoning their earlier psych leanings, track such as "Willie Jean", "Little Bonnie" and "Sandcastles" offered up a mix of lighter pop and country-rock sounds.  Curiously, several of the compositions including "Beg For His Forgiveness", "His Faith In Man" and "Devil, Maggot & Son" featured rather blatant Christian-oriented lyrics.  Taken on their own those efforts weren't half bad, full of of nice harmony vocals and engaging melodies, but when compared to the debut the results just didn't come close.  This time around it was the atypical numbers that provided the highlights.  The furious rocker "Beg for His Forgiveness" probably came the closest to recapturing the debut's meltdown sound, while "Pickin' Blues" was an okay boogie/blues number.   Elsewhere "Sand Castles" b/w "Willie Jean" was released as an instantly obscure single (Happy Tiger catalog number 567).  


"Aorta" 2" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Willie Jean - 3:03

2.) Little Bonnie - 4:18

3.) Blythe Spirit - 2:49

4.) Beg For His Forgiveness - 4:55

5.) Egypt (instrumental) - 4:05


(side 2)

1.) His Faith In Man - 5:09

2.) Devil, Maggot & Son - 2:48

3.) Sandcastles - 2:55

4.) Pickin' Blues - 3:12

5.) Fallin' Behind - 3:25


Following the band's collapse Been reappeared in Fine Wine, while Jim Dolinger and Jim Nyeholt reappeared as members of Lovecraft. Tom Donlinger became an in-demand sessions player, eventually recorded a series of solo albums under the name James Vincent.  Original drummer Herman teamed up with Chicago's New Colony Six.


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