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Chicago Chicago III album cover
3.62 | 127 ratings | 7 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc 1
1. Sing A Mean Tune Kid (9:13)
2. Loneliness Is Just A Word (2:36)
3. What Else Can I Say (3:12)
4. I Don't Want Your Money (4:47)
5. Travel Suite (22:30) :
- a) Flight 602
- b) Motorboat To Mars
- c) Free
- d) Free Country
- e) At The Sunrise
- f) Happy 'Cause I'm Going Home

Disc 2
6. Mother (4:30)
7. Lowdown (3:35)
8. An Hour In The Shower (5:30) :
- a) A Hard Risin' Morning Without Breakfast
- b) Off To Work
- c) Fallin' Out
- d) Dreamin' Home
- e) Morning Blues Again
9. Elegy (15:27) :
- a) When All The Laughter Dies In Sorrow
- b) Canon
- c) Once Upon A Time...
- d) Progress?
- e) The Approaching Storm
- f) "Man vs. Man: The End"

Total Time 71:29

Bonus tracks on 2013 remaster:
10. Free (mono 45 edit) (2:22)
11. Lowdown (Japanese stereo 45 version) (3:35)

Line-up / Musicians

- Terry Kath / guitars, vocals (2,5,8)
- Robert Lamm / keyboards, vocals (4-6,9)
- Lee Loughnane / trumpet
- James Pankow / trombone
- Walter Parazaider / saxophones, flute
- Peter Cetera / bass, guitar, vocals (1,3,5,7)
- Daniel Seraphine / drums, timbales

Releases information

Artwork: John Berg

2xLP Columbia ‎- C2 30110 (1971, US)

CD Columbia ‎- CK 30110 (1991, US)
CD Rhino Records ‎- 8122-76173-2 (2002, Europe) Remastered by Dave Donnelly
CD Friday Music ‎- FRM 30110 (2013, US) Remastered with 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to clarke2001 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CHICAGO Chicago III ratings distribution

(127 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(56%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

CHICAGO Chicago III reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars After releasing two double album for their first two releases, you'd think this septet (line-up unchanged) would've calmed down, right? Well they did! By recording yet another double album, this time called three (not to disturb their fans too much) and yet it's another beauty. Graced with Star Spangled Banner that's seen better days, still recorded in NYC and still under Guercio's directions, they decided not to change a winning formula, even if the group becomes more vocal about its anti-war sentiments (see the flag on the cover, but already the It Better end soon suite on the previous album) and some themes are barely veiled such as hailing "Canada has being just a little freer" (draft dodgers), etc? Songwriting- wise, we see Cetera gaining more confidence but certainly not getting better in that craft, but for the rest, Kath, Pankow and Lamm are still the triumvirate, Seraphine and Parazaider appearing as also-rans.

The layout is a bit the same as on their second album: the first side is a collection of unrelated songs, while the other three sides are occupied by mini-suites, some sidelong, others not and more solo tracks are filling up the space. Unlike the second Chicago album, the first side holds a really good tune in the 9-mins+ Sing A Mean Tune Kid, a hard-driving and often changing rock song with plenty of good guitars. Two other tracks (Loneliness and Money) are average Chicago tunes, but standing out like a sore thumb is Cetera's AOR What Else Can I Say. Nothing I wish! The flipside fares much better with the Lamm-penned sidelong Travel Suite. Starting on the lovely Beatle-esque Flight 602, soon followed by a short drum solo leading us on Mars, where we're Free. Then comes a rare Parazaider track, Free Country, which an almost atonal piece where his usually-rare flute takes a good part of the track, then the group are witnessing the Sunrise (from Mars I suppose?) before feeling Happy, 'Cause I'm Going Home, which shuts the brackets sonically a bit as it had started (West Coast & Beatles) with another superb flute thing and excellent drumming from Seraphine. Quite a fantastic trip allowing our spacey progheads to wallow in a daze.

The third side starts on two unrelated tracks, the brilliant Mother (Pankow's trombone is featured) and the average Cetara-penned Lowdown (actually of the three songs he's written so far, this is the only sounding like Chicago, instead of AOR), before the 5'30" Kath- penned An Hour In The Shower mini-suite, which is not Kath's best track, but still maintains a high Chicago standard. The closing side is the Pankow-penned Elegy, starting on a recitation of wisdom, before the brass section takes away the theme in a cheesy Canon-like manner. A flute gradually takes the listener from a gentle mood to a completely atonal "mess" where a sledgehammer and trombone car horns all get flushed down the toilet. Strange stuff and I doubt BS&T ever pulled anything this experimental. Approaching Storm is the killer track on this suite, with a dynamite guitar role and a dramatic never- ending end.

Understandably a shorter album in its duration (especially the second disc) than its two predecessors, Chicago shows that it is completely unrivalled in the brass rock category, even if this writer prefers Warm Dust, there is no doubt that Chicago punches the hell out If or BS&T by KO on the third round.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Misguided progress

Following the minor confusion over the title of Chicago's second album (retrospectively called "Chicago II), things settled down with this the band's correctly numbered third release. Remarkably, once again we have a third full double LP here, making a total of 6 LPs in around 2 years. While the album contained a couple of singles, it was generally received with less enthusiasm than its predecessors, and in the UK signalled the start of a rapid decline in interest in the band (although this would pick up again when "If you leave me now" was released a few years later).

While the album includes Chicago's signature big band brass rock, there is a greater diversity to the music this time around. As with the second album though, we have a mix of individual tracks and longer suites composed by the band members.

The opening 9 minute "Sing a mean tune kid" may on paper offer the hope of the band venturing deeper into prog territories, but the reality is that it is a rather disappointing nod towards Motown funk. The brass certainly sounds fresh, but the off-key vocals and groovy wah-wah guitar are less welcome. Things get back on track for the three shorter tracks which complete the first LP side, although none has the appeal of the higher profile tracks from the first two albums.

Side two of the album is occupied entirely by the 22 minute "Travel suite". While led compositionally by Robert Lamm this, the longest suite put together by Chicago, is more of team effort than their other such projects. The opening "Flight 602" section is pure Crosby Stills and Nash, complete which whimsical lyrics, but it is rather spoiled by the "Motorboat to Mars" drum solo which follows. The highlights of the suite are the two longer sections, the peaceful flute led instrumental "Free Country" and "Happy 'cause I'm going home", a 7 minute acoustic tinged number which returns us to the CSN vibes.

Side three, notable for its brevity, consists of two shortish stand alone songs and a 5 minute five part suite written by Terry Kath. Although "Lowdown" was released as a single, both it and "Mother" are better seen as decent if unremarkable album tracks. Kath's "An Hour In The Shower" probably did not need to be a suite at all, the division into sections simply giving the impression of a collection of under-developed ideas.

The final side is given over to James Pankow's "Elegy", which runs to a little over 15 minutes. The piece is preceded by "When All the Laughter Dies in Sorrow", a short poem by Kendrew Lascelles (who also wrote the well known poem "The Box"). Apart from the spoken word, the first parts of the piece are reserved for the band's brass section, who decend into misguided free-form "Progress" before bringing things around for the longest section "The gathering storm" and the closing "Man Vs. Man: The End".

While "Chicago Transit Authority" and "Chicago (II)" represented exciting new sounds from a new and ambitious outfit, "Chicago III" finds them becoming over-confident, perhaps arrogant. The music here is at times highly enjoyable, but the band fail to achieve the genuine peaks which can be found on the first two albums. In this case, restricting themselves to a single high quality LP would have been advisable.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars It's important that those of you who came of age sometime after the 70s be aware that the group known as Chicago wasn't always the slick hit-making machine they turned into from the 80s on. In fact, in their early days they were as eclectic and non-conformist as they come and anyone with an adventurous ear should pay those corresponding records heed. After making a huge splash with their debut in April '69 and solidifying their relevancy with their second release in January '70 they showed tenacious resolve by delivering Chicago III shortly after '71 was rung in. That feat of completing three double-LP albums in the span of two years is an accomplishment that has yet to be equaled four decades later so their work ethic is certainly nothing to sniff at. Despite being road weary from touring almost non-stop, these seven musicians were still able to assemble a set of new songs that've stood the test of time and sound as good today as they did then. Obviously, these guys didn't take their success for granted.

Keyboardist Robert Lamm's opening song, "Sing a Mean Tune Kid," instantly dispels any notions that the band's emphasis was becoming fixated on trying to scale the Top 40 charts. Its loose count-off leading to Terry Kath's wah-wah guitar precedes the lively funk beat that punches in presently but the true stars of this jazz/rock number are the rowdy members of the horn section (Lee Loughnane, James Pankow and Walter Parazaider) as they individually and collectively cause this track to sizzle. The song's complex structure is very progressive and Kath's extended guitar solo is wild and wicked. Lamm's "Loneliness is Just a Word" is next and bold horn blasts herald the onset of a jazzy waltz feel that's full of confident energy. Robert injects a growling Hammond B3, always a welcome participant. Bassist Peter Cetera's "What Else Can I Say" follows and it's lighter fare but it still avoids being too formulaic or pandering to sit through. Terry's steel guitar is a novel addition to their sound and, thank goodness, he doesn't overdo it. Another "studio chatter" intro for the Kath/Lamm composition "I Don't Want Your Money" proves their willingness to portray themselves as imperfectly human. The tune is a bluesy rocker that sports some rough edges but Terry turns in a blistering guitar lead and the brassy horns provide shots of bright colors. The ensemble's "Traveling Suite" has six parts but it's not as involved as one would expect. The principal theme surfaces in "Flight 602" in the guise of a CSNY-style folk/rock, harmony-laden ditty while "Motorboat to Mars" is a Danny Seraphine drum solo that's fine but somewhat less than spectacular. The charging locomotive that is "Free" is one of their most powerful tunes ever; chock full of kickass accents and an exciting horn arrangement that kills. "Free Country" is a cool piano piece augmented by Parazaider's serene yet unpredictably impish flute playing that morphs into a creature delightfully abstract at times. The vibes appearing in the late going are a classy touch. "At the Sunrise" shifts between ballad and light rock modes and the instrumental "Happy 'Cause I'm Going Home" ends the series with vocal la-las carrying the jazz melody up to the long jam where Walter's fluid flute flutters atop Seraphine's expressive drumming.

Robert's "Mother" is typical of their decidedly unorthodox approach in that the listener never knows where they'll take things next. Here you're treated to Pankow's construction of a ferocious trombone duet with himself in the middle of a song that is anything but a commercial sell-out. Cetera's "Lowdown" is the closest they come to doling out a "normal" pop song yet its strong political statement keeps it real and grounded. One aspect to notice at this juncture is how every cut has the earmark of a unilateral, collaborative effort where every member is actively involved in every track. Chicago III concludes with two multi-faceted compositions. The first is Kath's uneven "An Hour in the Shower." (He had an industrial-sized water heater, no doubt.) He starts with "A Hard Risin' Morning Without Breakfast" wherein an acoustic guitar strums below Terry's gruff vocal and the tune benefits greatly from the trio of horns. "Off to Work" turns it into more of a rocker, "Fallin' Out" goes back to the original theme but in a more aggressive way, "Dreamin' Home" is a showcase of Beach Boys harmonies sung over jazz-inflected chords and "Morning Blues Again" draws things to a close with a reprise of the first segment. It probably worked like a charm in Kath's (shower) head but it never quite jells. James' "Elegy" is more impressive. After the somber, spoken soliloquy of "When All the Laughter Dies in Sorrow" sets the serious tone a stately horn score arises for "Canon." "Once Upon a Time" shines a light on Parazaider's peaceful flute as it sails over a basic combo of drums, bass and piano before the rest of the horns slide in. "Progress?" delves into a dissonant brass arrangement spread over a blanket of nerve-shattering urban noises and culminating in a rude but fitting toilet flush. "The Approaching Storm" has an up tempo, motivating rhythm that fuels a spirited jam session. Trumpet, B3, sax, guitar and trombone all contribute hot rides in succession and then they conjure up a highly theatrical, dramatic but extremely satisfying finale in the aptly-titled "Man vs. Man: The End."

While Columbia Records surely wasn't thrilled about their stubborn, renegade attitude and ever-worrisome nonchalance when it came to producing hit singles ("Free" was the closest they came on this LP); their massive, loyal fan base was happy with their continuing to offer up rebellious, unconventional concoctions and they sent the album soaring all the way to #2 in the US and #9 in the UK. The windy city boys were staying true to their everyman calling on Chicago III by creating music that was both accessible and intelligently invigorating at the same time. The music you'll find on this record is also surprisingly undated and fresh even though over forty years have passed since it first graced the record bins. Three and a half stars.

Review by Sinusoid
3 stars The first two Chicago albums had some great jazz-rock teetering into pop territory that are recommended to the prog people into jazz. This Chicago album is different; III is only recommended to the fans of the first two albums and want another double album (now one CD) of satisfaction. I will focus each upcoming paragraph to a side of the original double vinyl.

Side One begins nice enough on a jam that we've come to expect from the band at this point, but lukewarm compared to earlier, fiery jams. The next ''Loneliness is Just a Word'' works as a pop tune, but then the torturous suffering begins with the other two tracks. Seriously, ''I Don't Want Your Money'' is probably the worst tune I've heard from the group thus far. I can compare this first side to THE WHITE ALBUM's first side, half very good, half I want to rip my hair out upon hearing.

The second side is entirely devoted to the ''Travel Suite'', but the suite is almost a misnomer. It's just six separate tracks without any relation or good segueing. ''Free'' and ''Free Country'' are both great in their respective jamming, but I almost feel a sense of cogwork here. The whole suite feels like it was make by Chicago-Lite, especially the opening ''Flight 602''.

Side Three is where everything picks up as ''Lowdown'', ''Mother'' and ''An Hour in the Shower'' (Kath should have trademarked that), three rock tunes with brass flair that are of the quality that the first two albums. ''Mother'' in particular is quite bouncy in the verses and very jazzy in the instrumental break.

The last side is dedicated to another suite, this one working better than ''Travel''. The first bit is a rarity in Chicago where Loughnane, Paradizer and Pankow play separate roles other than soloing, and also getting the band to function like a pocket orchestra. To some degree, they've succeeded. Add that to the beautiful cacophony in ''Progress?'' followed by more typical Chicago jamming, and we end on some high notes.

The whole of Chicago III is fragmented, disjointed and imbalanced. So many outside genre tags, references and experiments weigh down the album; had only a few more outside influences were included with building up the already strong jam quality they have, this would have been a more solid LP. History instead leaves us with a small mess that wouldn't be cleaned up until Chicago VII.

Review by stefro
4 stars The last of Chicago's original trio of double-albums(another wouldn't be issued until 1974's 'Chicago VII'), this takes another small step towards the more commercially-driven sound of the group's hugely-successful later years, again blending complex jazz instrumentals with psych-tinged rock and poppy melodies. However, although the mixture proves less successful third time round, 'Chicago III' still has its fair share of excellent moments. There is a definite progression here from the raw energy and fuzzy experimental edges found on 'Chicago Transit Authority' to a smoother, less abrasive overall style, yet Chicago's sound was always rooted in the basic principles of popular jazz and blues, one of the major factors making up the group's widespread appeal. 'Chicago III' still features the classic original seven-man line-up, yet this time powerful rock odes such as the bluesy opener 'Sing A Mean Tune Kid' seem more polished. That said, this is still a challenging album, with - just like it's predecessor - three multi-part suites('Travel Suite', 'An Hour In The Shower' and 'Elegy') filling up a large chunk of the album. Whilst ultimately these pieces don't quite manage to chart the same dynamic heights so skilfully attained on 'Chicago II', tracks such as the positively eclectic 'What Else Can I Say?, which melds jazzy pop ballad beginnings into acid-licked rock 'n' roll and back again within the space of a few short minutes, does find Chicago successfully mining the spirit of their excellent debut. The brassy 'I Don't Want Your Money' attempts the same trick with less conviction, yet thankfully both the delightfully bouncy, keyboard-kissed 'Mother' and the closing sections of James Pankow's 'Elegy' showcase the classic Chicago style still very much in check. For some, this album would mark the end of Chicago's truly great period, yet talk of their demise being at this point is premature. There would be no 'Chicago IV' of course, the group instead releasing the mammoth four-disc set 'Chicago At Carnegie Hall', and both that album and its subsequent follow-up 'Chicago V' would find the group in a very healthy state. 'Chicago III' does however provide a kind of closure to the outfit's more experimental phase, and for that the album should be seen as an important release. Undoubtedly the first three Chicago albums are the most indispensable - and in that order - yet their 1970's output still features much that is impressive from one of the quintessential American rock groups. Not quite a classic then, but 'Chicago III' is still the work of masters. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars After the huge success of the debut album Chicago Transit Authority and the amazing follow up Chicago II, it looked like Chicago was heading for making some pretty amazing music. I've always felt that their second album was a masterpiece and it was a big influence for me to explore progressive rock because I loved the long epics and multi-part suites on that second album. It took several years to finally get my hands on Chicago III. For some reason, I always had a hard time finding it. It looked as if it would be another one that I would love what with more epics and suites. What a let down it turned out to be, and you might blame that on the expectations I had, but I've tried so hard to love this album and it just doesn't work for me. It isn't as consistently good and too many of the compositions seem to be trying way to hard to be a part of a worthy successor to "II".

Now, there are some great gems here, 3 of which are in the Travel Suite: "Flight 602", "Free" and "Happy Because I'm Going Home". The others are "Mother" and "Lowdown". The other songs just don't live up to the greatness of the previous 2 albums. The thing that turns me off so much is it is trying too hard to be a copy of the second album and it fails more than it succeeds. In fact, as much as I detest the Chicago era when they were hit machines and working for the corporate man, I find the "Hour in the Shower" suite to be the most irritating and awful songs Chicago ever recorded. Though "Elegy" shows some promise throughout it's track, it just doesn't stand out like anything on the first or second albums.

I'm not one of those that think that there weren't any good albums after the second though. I actually consider the gargantuan "Live at Carnegie Hall", and VII, VIII and X great albums too. After that, forget it. Anyway, as far as this album, I can only rate it as being good but not essential. There just isn't much as far as groundbreaking material, too much of a copy from before and not a very good copy either. 3 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Chicago is one of the great enigmas in the history of music and after three brilliant albums and a super worthy fourth volume, in the middle of 1973 they turned their direction to more commercial waters, at a time when winds of condescension or leveling down had not yet blown. That special conco ... (read more)

Report this review (#2950149) | Posted by Fercandio46 | Thursday, September 7, 2023 | Review Permanlink

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