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Chicago - Chicago at Carnegie Hall CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.07 | 51 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Eight sides live

The numbering of the early Chicago albums can be a little confusing. The eponymous début album bears the title "Chicago Transit Authority", the band name being shortened after its release. The second album was originally simply called "Chicago", but subsequently became known as "Chicago II". The third album settles things down with the moniker "III", but look for a studio album numbered "IV" and you will not find one. Chicago have always numbered their albums sequentially, regardless of whether they are studio recordings, live albums or compilations. Thus this album, "Chicago IV", is the band's first live release.

If Chicago had seemed a tad ambitious releasing three double LPs for their first three albums, this was nothing compared to the massive four LP box set which captured their week long residency at Carnegie hall, New York, USA. At the time Carnegie Hall was not known for rock concerts, so for a relatively new band to book the place for an entire week was astonishing. By all accounts, the concerts were a great success, although the band have since bemoaned the poor acoustics, James Pankow suggesting the horn section sounded like they were "playing kazoos". Add to that the compression necessary to shoehorn well over 20 minutes of music onto an LP side, and we have a recipe for disappointment in the sound quality department. This has to some extent been addressed during the digital age, the album being remastered for CD in 2005.

In terms of content, the band played substantial amounts of each of their first three albums during their residency, with one new song Robert Lamm's "A Song For Richard And His Friends", being added.

The 4 LP set was released in a lavish box with posters etc.. While it sold well in the USA, being officially recognised as the best selling box set by a rock act for some 15 years, it languished on the shelves in the UK.

In some ways, this monster reminds me of ELP's bloated 3LP set "Welcome back my friends..". There is definitely a superb single, or at most double LP within the sleeves, but there is simply too much indulgence and meandering here to make this an essential acquisition. Take for example the elongated piano intro to "Does anybody really know what time it is", which ironically is rather Emerson like. While artistically adequate, it does nothing to enhance this great song.

In summary, a good way to gather together some of the best of the early material played live, but for me an enjoyable but not essential package.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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