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CHICAGO VIII

Chicago

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Kazuhiro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The change in some situations and differences of elegance will be able to be found to this album if it thinks about the characteristic of the album that "Chicago" till then announced.

It is a point as the matter that can be confirmed with this album to have introduced the part based as a thick impression on the black and green as for a candid impression that the band put the proceed as a part of Cover Art. And, it might be in the point that shifted to the composition that the band settled from the composition of a past tune a little according to the composition of the short piece.

The discussion about directionality by the member of the band had started gradually since the time of "VI". And, the discord with James Guercio that served as the patron and the producer concurrently for the band might have been reflected in the content of the album a little more. If the remark of the member ties to this guess as a guess, the situation that the band was holding at this time can be seen.

It is said that the member was helped by James Guercio in money help and mental respect. However, it is said that the member felt insecurity in the recording that spends session that it is made to compel in the studio and a great amount of time. The part located to the band of Terry Kath and band's details that the member of the band was related with actually felt a pinch for the production of the album since "V" might have been complex on the other hand. The flow from which the intention of the band is remarkably reflected in the work as a result is projected to the sound of the album.

"VI" was produced and the band was related for about the half of the album. The member is gradually related to the production of the album and advancing it there. It is said that there was what the band worked actually again after James Guercio leaves the studio as a reality, too. Time when an individual member had had the directionality of the album and the band decided to some degree might have had respect consolidated in this album. 。

This album is announced in March, 1975. It is a work by which Laudir de Oliveira of the percussionist who was supporting the sound of the band after 1973 formally joined the band. Composition of tune to which flexibility in addition to composition of work and tune till then is taken. Part where flavor of pop of Peter Cetera to music character of Robert Lamm and Terry Kath is gradually demonstrated further by work of this album and "VIII" shift. And, the part of the conversion is given. Flow based on Blues and Brass Rock. Or, the idea not related to the horn section. Opening the root by construction of the tune and an individual member is remarkable in this album.

"Anyway You Want" is Rock that takes the element of an unusual boogie-woogie as a tune that they were giving till then compared it. It advances with stability while being based on the rhythm of the shuffle. The range of voice and the brass section with wide width of Peter Cetera give good ensemble.

"Brand New Love Affair PartI&II" It is a tune by James Pankow. The ballade that puts on the song by Terry Kath and progresses has the atmosphere of Jazz. Part of complete ensemble by song and horn section gently expressed. Or, it converts in part2 suddenly. Rhythm of shuffle in close relation to song by upper register of Peter Cetera. The sound is exactly demonstrated as Brass Rock.

As for "Never Been In Love Before", the voice of Peter Cetera is demonstrated enough. Melody that produces anacatesthesia. And, the line of bass that overwhelmingly offers a sense of existence. The progress of a naive melody and chord can be improved. The melody that a profound chorus and the horn section give combines.

"Hideaway" might be a tune in which the root of Peter Cetera is completely reflected. Rock where the route of hard and drive appears forward is a feature. Blues Rock based on the music character of Free that Peter Cetera holds in high esteem is united.

"Till We Meet Again" is a tune in which the relief of Terry Kath put well for a past work is reflected. A magnificent melody of the part and Folk based on an acoustic part is expressed as a composition.

In "Harry Truman", a gentle melody that is reminiscent of the Beatles is a feature. Part of sound of decoration with chorus's perfection and wind instrument. Support of Chord with piano. The part that temporarily changes the rhythm and the part of Coda with a few humours might be ideas that were able to be improved. However, there is not so much individuality.

"Oh and Thank You Great Spirit" might be one of the progressive tunes in the tune collected to this album. The soul of Terry Kath is put in this tune. Part of talking in close relation to arpeggio of guitar with anacatesthesia. Flow of ballade that is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix and Robin Trower. The melody and the technology of the guitar to make good use of various attachments are overwhelming. Melody and composition with expression of feelings that flows overall. The rhythm increases the speed to the tune before long gradually. Guitar play of angry waves of Terry Kath in close relation to the intense rhythm is overwhelming. The percussion instrument and the keyboard in close relation to the guitar with the wow pedal also contribute well.

In "Long Time No See", the horn section that gives the part where a steady rhythm and the bass were valued is a feature. Part of complete cutting with guitar. A little mysterious melody and the chorus's processing have a good composition.

"Ain't It Blue?"It is a tune from which the atmosphere of peel Funk Rock occurred enough. A double part of the song by Terry Kath and Peter Cetera and chorus's ensemble are steady. Ensemble and the guitar of the overall band stand out.

"Old Days" is a tune by James Pankow. It might be a tune that most remarkably shows the atmosphere of Brass of Chicago. A beautiful Brass section, and an intense fusion of Rock and composition of GrooveAnd, it is partial of the song and the chorus to whom Peter Cetera is steady. The composition of the tune gradually uplifted can be improved.

As for the band, the directionality of music might have been being indeed decided because of this album. And, the music character of an individual member is gradually reflected in the work. The music character is united to some degree as "Chicago", characterizes the band, and is offered. If the flow announced from the first stage as a mid-term album is considered, it can be caught as a work at the time of a few conversions.

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Send comments to Kazuhiro (BETA) | Report this review (#307346)
Posted Saturday, October 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Brassed off?

Having released the double LP "Chicago VII" in March 1974, the band wasted no time in returning to the studio to record their next album. They were still touring relentlessly, but created a gap in their schedule to once again spend time at producer James William Guercio's Caribou Ranch studios in Colorado during the summer of 1974. The success of the previous album and of its its tracks selected as singles meant that this album did not actually get released until spring 1975 though.

If "Chicago VII" had suggested that the band were intent on returning to their roots in big sound jazz rock, "Chicago VII" once again dispelled such notions, the focus being on generally shorter commercially orientated songs more in keeping with "Chicago VI". Somewhere along the way Laudir de Oliveira, who had played percussion as a guest on previous albums, became a full band member; the first (albeit minor) alteration to the line up since the band's inception.

The album opens rather innocuously, with the blues funk of Peter Cetera's "Anyway you want". This admittedly enjoyable number sees Cetera singing falsetto at times while the band have a ball behind him. Part one of James Pankow's "Brand new love affair" slows things right down, Terry Kath's vocals being reminiscent of those of George Benson among others. Part 2 picks the pace up, with a brass arrangement and the voice of Peter Cetera being more in line with traditional Chicago. Since Pankow was not a singer himself, he would reportedly "audition" the band's singers before choosing who should take the lead on his songs.

Cetera retains the lead vocal for Robert Lamm's simple pop ballad "Never been in love before". Cetera's own composition "Hideaway" is something of a surprise. The heavy riff appears to have been lifted straight from an early Black Sabbath album, Peter's distorted vocals being a reasonable impression of Ozzy himself. This sublimely heavy track, which is devoid of brass, is a decent stab at a style previously alien to Chicago.

Terry Kath's short acoustic ballad "Till we meet again" seems to be the most overlooked song on the album. It reminded me a bit of Home's "The Alchemist", the pleasant melody and simple harpsichord accompaniment being all that is needed here.

Robert Lamm's appeal to "Harry (S) Truman" sees the band lurching into satire, the song being an appeal after the Watergate incident for the US to return to the good old days. The mass choir on the chorus gave the song a commercial bent which led to it becoming a novelty hit single.

The longest track on the album is Terry Kath's "Oh, thank you great spirit", generally acknowledge to be a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Kath takes the opportunity to add some fine lead guitar, including a reference to Hendrix's "Purple haze". Once again, the track is devoid of brass, the album as a whole probably being the band's least brassy ever. The arrangement of the track is "Freebird" like, the ending being somewhat more urgent than the beginning.

The prolific Robert Lamm writes four songs here, the third of which is "Long Time No See". While reverting to a traditional brass arrangement, the song is one of the more prosaic on the album, and perhaps offers an indication that the pressure on Lamm to keep writing was taking its toll. Lamm's final contribution "Ain't it blue" has a Three Dog Night feel. Terry Kath and Peter Cetera share the lead vocals on the track, singing one then the other, rather than in harmony.

The album closes with James Pankow's hankering for the "Old days". Peter Cetera is afforded lead vocal duties, the song being littered with various reminders of times gone by. The nostalgic elements and the catchy hook resulted in another hit single for the band (in the US at least, at this time they were all but forgotten in Europe).

While "Chicago VIII" is an obvious attempt by the band to move back towards simpler songs with catchy hooks, it is for me a highly enjoyable album. The schmaltz which would soon infect the band is largely held at bay here, indeed this is one of their most rock orientated albums. The relegation of the brass to a minor supporting role is disappointing given that it is the band's trademark sound, but that aside, this set is worthy of investigation.

The CD reissue contains three bonus tracks, two of which are "studio rehearsals" of otherwise unavailable songs. "Sixth sense" is a jazz funk instrumental which would have been out of place on the album, but would have fitted in well on "Chicago VII". Robert Lamm's "Bright eyes" is more in tune with the tracks on the album, but its lightweight nature made it an obvious target for omission should space become tight. The final track is a fine cover of Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll" performed live on Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's eve. in 1974.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#383545)
Posted Thursday, January 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Some consider 'CHICAGO VIII' the band's most 'lazy' album at the time of its release - many of the tracks here are a departure from their more exciting Jazz-Rock orientated approach. What I can see (hear) here is the willingness to experiment and break away from their tried & true formula - not every track on this album stars their 3-piece Wind section. Opening with an out-'n'-out rocker, Cetera's 'Anyway You Want', anyone would expect nothing but some pedestrian mainstream Rock album. The track is O.K. at best, but things improve with trombonist Jimmy Pankow's 'Brand New Love Affair' parts 1 & 2, offering a pleasant pairing contrasting of a lightly Jazzy and soulful first half, becoming 'rockier' in the 2nd half. Keyboardist Robert Lamm's first contribution here is 'Never Been In Love Before' - a ballad which features an interesting arrangement - I find its chorus quite dramatic. Another Cetera- penned tune, 'Hideaway', ditches the horns altogether and gives the listener something more akin to, as reviewer Easy Livin' has stated, Black Sabbath - definately recalls, perhaps, something off their 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath' album. Even if Cetera admired the band 'FREE', this sounds grittier than any work I've heard from that band. Side 1 closes with a softer ballad tune sung by Terry Kath which sounds like its main instruments are Harmonium & 12-string guitar... I could be wrong but.... The 2nd side opens with the minor hit single 'Harry Truman', not an entirely engaging track to be honest, although it's nice to hear a clarinet arrangement from woodwind wizard Walt Parazaider. Next up is the album's longest cut, guitarist Terry Kath's 'Oh, Thank You, Great Spirit', an ode to Jimi Hendrix, and a creative slab of 7+ minutes which starts out atmospherically, and after some sung verses, becomes heavier as it goes along with some fiesty, multiple guitar tracks all combining to form a really full-on assault - Kath on top of his game right here, with the Wind players ditched again. Sounds nothing like the Brass-Rock of 'typical' Chicago - a really impressive and surprising composition. The last 3 tunes revert back to the band's basics and kind of wind the album down without causing too much harm to their reputation. Overall, definately a 3 star album, and I award this rating even after having listened to the 2 Elephant9 LP's I've acquired recently !!!

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Send comments to Tom Ozric (BETA) | Report this review (#436417)
Posted Thursday, April 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars While it's thankfully a rare occurrence, we've all at one time or another had to witness a drastic plunge in a band's creativity level from the loftiest of heights down to the grisliest of dregs that can manifest itself even within the brief span of two consecutive albums. To a true fan this phenomenon is so confounding and maddening as to make a manic depressive's low look like a bad hair day in comparison. After putting out a series of uneven but still above average records in the early 70s Chicago released their hip, jazzy VII in March of 1974 and it remains one of the finest albums (if not their acme) in their hefty catalogue of works. It took a lot of intestinal fortitude to go against the grain and produce a double LP set filled with songs that took so many chances with their pop/rock image but the risk paid off. The record proved so popular that its persistence in holding a respectable position on the charts actually delayed the release of this, the follow up disc. That's why trying to rationalize the spell of incompetence and musical myopia that took hold of the group in the interim is as frustrating as attempting to find a sliver of sunshine in Chicago VIII. To put it more succinctly, WTF got into these guys?

Having a whole year to further explore the intriguing jazz/rock fusion territory they returned to and embraced on the previous album as well as adding a full-time employee, percussionist Laudir de Oliveira, would, one should think, invigorate and encourage the ensemble to be even bolder than before. Yet, in defiance of all intelligent reasoning, they got lazy and fell back into old habits, taking the easiest path possible as exemplified by the opening tune, Peter Cetera's "Anyway You Want." He was the sole member who objected to their adopting the jazzy motif that characterized VII and one wonders if, by letting him lead off the new record, they were collectively trying to make amends for hurting his little feelings. Whatever. Tame as it is, the song isn't as frail as what is encountered further into the record, though, and its nostalgic, swinging rock & roll beat is slightly disarming. The understated vocals don't adhere to the standard Chicago approach but they're not off-putting, either, especially in light of the carefree atmosphere that surrounds this number. If their aim was to start with a more relaxed, less challenging climate this time around they got the job done. James Pankow's "Brand New Love Affair, Part I & II" is next and it's the best cut on the album by far. The first half of the song possesses a small jazz club's sultry aura and features some cool Rhodes piano and muted horns flowing behind Terry Kath's smoky vocal. The 2nd movement evolves into a decent, laid-back shuffle where Peter croons and the brass dominates, brightening the mood. Hope is falsely elevated that great things may be in store.

Robert Lamm's "Never Been in Love Before" follows, a ballad bathing in a warm Latin current that helps it to avoid its boring, schmaltzy fate, becoming a passable piece via some interesting Jimmy Webb-style transitions and detours. Unfortunately things take an ugly turn after that, beginning with Cetera's pitiful "Hideaway." It's a sloppy foray into hard rock completely lacking in focus or definition that sounds more like a demo than a finished product. In fact, the fidelity of this recording has serious problems that can't be excused and that condition says volumes about the group's unforgivable lapse in maintaining objective oversight. Terry's "Till We Meet Again" is an acoustic guitar-driven ditty that's inoffensive but very short and forgettable. The band did score a #13 hit with Robert's Randy Newman-ish "Harry Truman," a throwback tune with a "good old days" political theme. I appreciate it for what it represents and Walt Parazaider's clarinet offers a breath of fresh air at this point yet the song seems out of place here, further evidence of the album having no definite direction. Next comes Kath's ridiculously self-indulgent "Oh, Thank You Great Spirit." After a cosmic opening, you're exposed to a big dose of Hendrix-inspired, electronically-affected vocals layered over phased guitar chords but the main body of the song is a meandering, poor imitation of Jimi's inimitable way of creating abstract dreamscapes. Slowly the tempo increases in increments to support an unstructured and overly noisy ending to this trite, time-wasting track.

Lamm's "Long Time No See" is a non-descript rocker that spotlights the record's dearth of noteworthy compositions, underscoring the impression one inevitably gets that they were content with mediocre, "good enough" performances rather than reaching for any semblance of perfection. Their trusty funk monster is brought out of hiding for Robert's "Ain't It Blue?" and, while it's nice to see the ogre make a belated appearance, even he can't make this weak number dance. James' "Old Days" turned out to be a top five hit thanks in no small part to its familiar, patronizing "Saturday in the Park" vibe but this tepid tune is so vanilla that I've never been able to pay it any attention at all. Its plainness is exasperating when compared to what these musicians were capable of producing.

Chicago VIII hit the record bins in March of '75 and, while it did reach #1 on the album chart, it didn't stay there long and completely disappeared from the Hot 100 list within weeks. In other words, even their fair-weather fans could see that the emperor was naked as a jaybird on this anemic platter of black vinyl. To dazzle the public and the music world so exquisitely just a year earlier and then to so shamelessly defecate on their loyal following by squeezing out this lump of underachievement and expecting them to eat it up soiled their reputation indelibly. Someone in the band should've had the balls to stand up, say that this was beneath them and insist they go back to the drawing board but evidently no one cared enough to take that courageous stance. Too bad, because many of their former admirers were never able to look at them quite the same afterward. They had failed both us and themselves.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#620253)
Posted Thursday, January 26, 2012 | Review Permalink

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