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Chicago Chicago V album cover
3.30 | 80 ratings | 7 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Hit by Varèse (4:56)
2. All Is Well (3:52)
3. Now That You've Gone (5:01)
4. Dialogue (Part I) (2:57)
5. Dialogue (Part II) (4:13)
6. While The City Sleeps (3:53)
7. Saturday In The Park (3:56)
8. State Of The Union (6:12)
9. Goodbye (6:02)
10. Alma Mater (3:56)

Total Time 45:16

Bonus tracks on CD Remaster
11.A Song for Richard and His Friends [studio version, without vocals]
12.Mississippi Delta City Blues [first recorded version, with scratch vocal]
13.Dialogue (Part I and II) [single version]


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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Lamm / keyboards and vocals
- Terry Kath / guitars and vocals
- Peter Cetera / bass and vocals
- Danny Seraphine / drums
- Lee Loughnane / trumpet
- James Pankow / trombone and percussion
- Walter Parazaider / woodwinds and percussion

Releases information

LP Columbia

Thanks to clarke2001 for the addition
and to progshine for the last updates
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Rhino Records 2002
Audio CD$8.86
$7.50 (used)
Chicago VChicago V
Limited Edition
Friday Music 2015
$3.39 (used)
Chicago V by Chicago (2002-08-20)Chicago V by Chicago (2002-08-20)
Audio CD$68.27

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CHICAGO Chicago V ratings distribution

(80 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

CHICAGO Chicago V reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars eally!!!

After closing a first chapter with the then-record-breaking 4-disc set At Carnegie Hall, Chicago settled down a bit and came back with a SINGLE disc affair?.. Yup, that's right! I kid you not!! A one-disc release. With its Carved-in-wood logo, you could expect roughly the same kind of excellent brass ?rock and to some extent, that's what the fans will get, but not just that. This fifth release is completely dominated by keyboardist Lamm who wrote ll but two tracks, although there is no apparent reason for that since the line-up hasn't changed and the songwriting was more equitable between the main four songwriters.

Opening on the immense A Hit By Varese (this is one of the more complex tune of theirs), this fifth album gets as strong a start as previous albums, but alas the following inaptly- titled All Is Well (sounds AOR-ish, with Cetera singing) and the better but not that good Now That You're Gone, the proghead is wondering what's happening to his fave brass-rock group. He's surely relieved with the two-part Dialogue, a great track, where Kath and Cetera sing in dialogue, the second movement they sing together; a bit of a cheesy concept, but the music behind it is quite fine. The side-closing While The City Sleep is a great with Kath's excellent guitar solo, magnified by the horn section behind him.

The flipside starts on the awful hit that will push Chicago down the AOR road. Saturday In The Park will sell many thousands and get much airplay (his was not unusual for the band), but somehow this is the point where things changed for the band. Fortunately for me, the great State Of The Union track rectifies the line (Kath's guitar in the middle of the sound is excellent), confirmed by the other long track (6?mins max) of the album, Goodbye, where the great instrumental interplay is at the service of the song. The closing Alma Mater is a disappointing Kath-penned slow track best forgotten, IMHO.

While the fifth album still holds some superb Chicago-signed tracks, one can only be slightly disappointed by the AOR influence creeping its head out front, and that despite being a single disc, the presence of some weak tracks is a bit alarming. Nevertheless 5 remains a good album, but is nowhere near as essential as its predecessors.

Review by Chicapah
3 stars In all fairness, regardless of what you might think of them, you gotta hand it to these blue collar guys regarding their stamina and intestinal fortitude in the early going. In the span of three short years they'd offered up to the fickle public a daunting dozen (that's TWELVE for the metric-minded) sides of shiny black vinyl containing top-quality studio material as well as an elaborate box set of live performances, to boot. Compare that level of output to today's stingy standards when you're lucky if your favorite prog act releases a lone CD of new music every other year! I envision that when Chicago's megalomaniac producer James Guercio gathered the ragged pack together to plan out LP #5 he got a lot of "I got nothin'" looks from all but golden boy Robert Lamm who, like the nerdy kid at school you loathed and perhaps bullied, announced proudly that he'd been doing his homework diligently and had a slew of tunes in his Superman spiral notebook ready to take into the rehearsal hall. However, in this case I suspect that the rest of the road-weary warriors in the troupe were too burned out to be resentful that little Bobby'd been spending his offstage time writing songs while they freely indulged in the wild & crazy rock & roll lifestyle in city after city. They'd never gone wrong following his lead before and, besides, his proclivity for composition took the pressure off the others, Terry Kath and James Pankow in particular, to deliver the goods.

They raise the curtain on this album (I would've called it "Chive" for grins) with the slithering, reptilian groove of "A Hit by Varese," a great example of why this group is rightly considered a pioneering force in progressive fusion. They expertly mix a heavy rock churning sensation into a jazzy motif and the spirited improvisational solos rising from each of their talented horn players during the extended middle section are exceptional. The way they slowly but steadily build to a manic state of aural affairs is invigorating and, while not all that complicated, it lacks nothing in the intensity department. The sarcastic lyrics should appeal to every progger, too. Lamm cries out to be spared the torture of being bombarded ever and anon with tired "oldies" bled to death over the radio waves. "Can you play free or in three or agree to attempt something new?/the people need you, a seed that will lead to a hit by Varese," he pleads with tongue planted firmly in cheek. (For the uninformed, Varese was a non-conformist, avant garde composer whose weird stuff influenced the likes of Zappa and other eclectic progmen of note.) The mellow "All Is Well" follows right on its heels and it's a smooth, flowing romantic tune that no doubt pleased the suits at Columbia at the listening session, eliciting sighs of relief after hearing the rebellious opener and frantically putting their vacations on hold. Still, it alternates coyly between 6/4 and 4/4 time signatures and the superbly-scored, horn ensemble-led bridge segment is admirable.

Pankow's only contribution is next, the uneven "Now That You've Gone." It begins with a rolling drum pattern from Danny Seraphine that evolves into an energetic waltz where the horns set the pace tactfully in that they don't overwhelm the track. The song structure is too fragmented to be cohesive and/or memorable but Walter Parazaider's unrestrained sax ride is a delight. The two-parted "Dialogue" is the best thing about this record. It's a very unique number that encompasses everything that made this band stand out from the herd. That is to say they didn't neglect their dedication to their craft while continuing to broadcast their strong and sometimes controversial political beliefs. Here Robert allows us to eavesdrop on a theoretical conversation being carried on between a child of the 60s (Kath) and one of the early 70s (Cetera) through which Lamm expresses what he considers a dearth of moral conviction in the up and coming generation. Terry: "When it's time to function as a feeling human being, will your bachelor of arts help you get by?" Peter: "I hope to study further, a few more years or so. I also hope to keep a steady high." It's a riveting exchange about priorities that still rings true today (I saw them in concert recently and they played it to an enthusiastic response). Everyone in the group donates their time equally to make this song work on multiple levels and the "gospelized" finale is an unexpected treat.

"While the City Sleeps" sports an engaging introduction and then swings seamlessly between a bluesy 4/4 beat and a peppy 7/8 format kicking beneath the paranoid ensemble vocals that warn us "men are scheming new ways to kill us and tell us dirty lies." (Gee, Bob, ya think?) It's nothing all that special but Kath does deliver a powerful guitar lead backed by an ominous wall of ascending horns. Next is their eternal (some might say infernal) summertime pop hit, "Saturday in the Park," that, after all these decades of being cruelly overplayed ad nauseum, ironically embodies the complaint that Robert issued on the opening cut. He created the very thing he detested so vehemently! Despite being woefully dated in more ways than one ("Can you dig it?") I can't discount or demean the tune's spiffy horn arrangement or the hopeful stop-and-smell-the-roses message of "listen, children/all is not lost/all is not lost" that the Nixon-shrouded world so needed to hear in '72.

"State of the Union" is a funky rocker that's fairly straight ahead in its approach and I must confess that something obvious occurred to me at this juncture: Mr. Cetera was a damned decent bassist before he went all Englebert Humperdink on us and morphed into a schmaltzy lounge crooner. If you lend an ear to what he's doing so consistently you'll agree. He shines brightly throughout this whole album and I just wanted to bring that to your attention. (No need to thank me, just mail a generous check to the "Let's build a rest home for senile proggers" fund.) Lyrically Lamm appears to be really ticked off and it presents quite a contrast to the "free and easy" attitude he copped in the previous song. The same dude who just moments ago praised a "man selling ice cream" is now willing to bust a cap in the benevolent street vendor's skull if it'll help him "tear the system down, down to the ground." Odd. Lee Loughnane's dizzy trumpet solo is worth mentioning, by the way. "Goodbye" is another highlight of the proceedings. Its jazzy ambience and feel reminiscent of Miles Davis' "Maiden Voyage," it shows the band wasn't about to cut any corners when it came to their art and, even when exhausted, they were determined to keep their integrity intact. This "I hate L.A." tune has many interesting turns and detours to enjoy along the way. Kath brings up the rear with his simple "Alma Mater." It's a gospel-choir- gathered-'round-the-upright-piano kind of ditty that works mainly due to Terry's soulful voice and the refreshing, bare bones approach they wisely chose to employ. They didn't add what it didn't need.

Chicago V was their first single-disc album and also their first to reach #1 on the US charts where it stayed for over two months. They recorded this sucker in just over a week and that's an indication of how meticulous their preparation was in rehearsal because there's nothing haphazard about it. Very tight, very clean and likely well below budget. Despite what must've been constant pressure to crank out AM hits like cheap soap bubbles, the boys in the band remained true to their renegade roots and stubbornly flew their freak flag high for the most part. I realize that he didn't figure heavily in the creation of this particular disc but as long as Terry Kath was alive he wasn't going to let them knuckle under and turn into the commercial pop machine they would eventually become after his tragic demise. He was their prog policeman of sorts and God bless him for that. This ain't a bad one to own because at this point in their career they were still the vanguard of horn bands, pushing the envelope and entertaining their loyal fans with challenging material. 3.4 stars.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Chicago, Made in America

Having recorded double LPs for their first three releases, Chicago really went over the top for the album dubbed "Chicago IV", and came up with a 4 LP live set "Chicago at Carnegie Hall". Being a live album, this once again upset the numbering of the studio albums, and this their fourth studio release was given the title "Chicago V".

In retrospect, it was apparent on "Chicago III" that the demands of coming up with sufficient quality material for successive double albums was taking its toll, and "Chicago V" became the band's first conventional single LP release. Further clues to this drying up of the inspirational juices is evident here when we find that Robert Lamm writes all but two of the tracks. The line up though remained firmly intact, the album being recorded in late 1971 around the time of the release of the live set. Because of this, "Chicago V" did not hit the shelves until mid-1972.

A single "Saturday in the park" was taken from the album around the time of its release, and became the band's biggest US hit to date, with the album itself finding similar success there. Outside the US however, interest in the band continued to wane, the single being all but ignored in the UK and the album breaching only the top 30 there. The explanation for the increasing polarisation on either side of the Atlantic is difficult to explain, although the band were perhaps becoming increasingly American (the first two albums were mid-Atlantic), "Saturday in the park" making repeated references to the Fourth of July.

For "Chicago V", the band reined in their ambitions and indulgences considerably. Out went the side long suites, the modest 2 part "Dialogue" being the only nod in that direction, and in came shorter more accessible songs with tight arrangements.

The opening "A Hit by Varèse" pays tribute to the French Father of Electronic Music. The track shows that the band's foundations are still firmly rooted in the big band brass sound, the jazz inspired improvisation at the core of the piece being distinctly BS&T like. Later, "Now that you've gone" also features such improvisation. The following "All is well" is more representative of the album as a whole though, Peter Cetera's soft vocal contrasting rather nicely with the brass instrumental passage.

The aforementioned two part "Dialogue" is so named as part one features a vocal conversation between Terry Kath and Peter Cetera. The second part is the more inspired though, with harmony vocals, strong lead guitar and the more conventional brass sound of the band.

Elsewhere, "While the city sleeps" has a sound similar to that of fellow travellers Lighthouse (q.v.), the deep brass sound and trademark harmonies making this the most powerful song on the album. The two longest tracks, "State of the union" and "Goodbye" come towards the end. The former seems rather unfocussed, while the latter is a softer, slightly funky number. Terry Kath's quasi blues/gospel "Alma mater" which closes the set makes for an uplifting final statement.

In all, a better album than the disappointing "Chicago III", but still somewhat below the band's initial achievements. The tracks which are memorable here are so because of their commercial appeal; their catchiness if you will. The early (in the album) lapses into improvisation are mistakes in my view, although these are more than compensated for by some superb big sound brass. The decision to draw things in and record a single album was the right one, but the over reliance on Robert Lamm to come up with enough quality material put too much pressure on one area, and the results are at best mixed.

The CD remaster has three well selected bonus tracks. "A Song for Richard and His Friends" is an 8 minute studio instrumental rehearsal of an indulgence which made its début on the "Live at Carnegie hall" album. A clearly almost finalised demo of Terry Kath's "Mississippi Delta City Blues" was recorded around the time of this album, but it would have to wait until 1977's "Chicago XI" to appear on an album. The third bonus track is a shortened single edit of "Dialogue".

Review by Sinusoid
2 stars Chicago's first single LP in their history, and this is their fifth. So, one is led to believe that Chicago weeded through and short-circuited any filler material, giving us a more focused album. Yet, the irony here is that it SOUNDS like there's more filler material here than on the earlier Chicago records, or at least the ones I've heard. I skipped over the third album for some reason (with the fourth being a live album of studio cuts, I passed on that one also) and acquired CHICAGO V which took a digger in my opinion of Chicago.

The classic Chicago sound kicks off the album in the opening ''A Hit For Varese''; it includes bass swoops and Paradizer, Pankow and Loughnane trading solos with each other. Fun stuff. The ''Dialogue'' tracks are very good, poppy as they are. The first part has some interesting vocal trade-offs from Kath and Cetera, but the mostly instrumental second half is more of interest mostly because of the odd rhythm (nineteen if you really want the number).

That's about it for highlights, sad to say. ''All Is Well'' and ''Saturday in the Park'' are pretty syrupy AOR tunes that are better listened to with a mute option handy. Even worse is the horrible attempt at pop-funk in ''State of the Union''; it's pretty bad when I say I prefer ''Free Form Guitar''. The rest are forgettable and get lost considering the tunes they chucked out on earlier albums. Interestingly, one of the bonus tracks, ''Mississippi Delta Blues'', is a nice shuffle- blues tune that could have beefed up the album's quality.

CHICAGO V pales in comparison to the first couple of albums in the band's discography. The band seems more eager to try simple pop approaches, and while their trademark fusion sound is still here, it's largely subsidised. One to avoid unless your love of Chicago is unconditional.

Review by Tom Ozric
4 stars When the term 'Prog' is mentioned, most folks will never recall Brass-Rockers CHICAGO within that great genre of music. I have to admit that, no longer than 18 months ago, I was one of those (ignorant) detractors of the band. Since then, these guys have impressed me quite a bit, and that's on the level of high quality musicianship/instrumentation, composition, production values (which eventually became over-polished in the 80's...) and proficiency of the vocals. This fifth release, and if I could mention here - it's easier to speak of Chicago than it is to say, of, Univers Zero (just to pick an extreme comparison, as I admire both bands equally) contains some more complex arrangements as well as some of those M.O.R. things the band opted for. Overall, the songs throughout the record should present an engaging and interesting listening for many, with their trademark wind-section in place along with some great guitar work, bass and drumming. Keyboarder Robert Lamm ( Piano, E- Piano and Hammond) is a competent player, but never really goes it solo. Displaying an interest of composer Varese, the opening number by Lamm - 'A Hit By Varese' - offers a tight performance from all, including a rather avant-garde trade-off between the sax, trumpet and trombone for several bars, and shows off the technical abilities of all concerned. 'All Is Well' combines their musical talents within an A.O.R. framework. Good song without a doubt - nice Bass. 'Now That You're Gone' features some odd rhythms and a slightly 'darker' riff at times. Soulful lead vocals from Kath. Dialogue (I & II) is a longer piece (7.10) showing off a repetitive pattern with alternate vocals between guitarist Terry Kath and Bassist Peter Cetera. During the 2nd part, Kath gets to shine with some fiery lead-guitaring atop a rather funky backing. Flipside, 'While the City Sleeps', opens with wind noises and some great wah-wah Bass and a main riff in 7/8. Hit single 'Saturday In The Park' follows next - melodic and memorable. 'State of the Union' is a funky tune which works well during its course but doesn't really change much. 'Goodbye' is a more favourable tune that is extremely Jazz-oriented with another main riff in '7' and really shows off Cetera's considerable skills on the Bass along with his fine vocals, and some tasty keyboard work in the background from Lamm - amazing tune, and the closer 'Alma Mater' is a frad boring and disappointing. Words can only say so much, and this is something of a 'mainstream' album, but I find its contents should be an appealing introduction for many.
Review by stefro
3 stars Somewhat incredibly the group's first single-disc release, 'Chicago V' had the difficult trick of following on from the mammoth four-disc set 'Chicago At Carnegie Hall' and the trio byzantine double-albums that preceded. So, it's no real surprise then to find that this 1972 album fails to live up to expectations. With the original line-up still in place 'Chicago V' is not, as some might suspect, the sound of a group in decline but instead the sound of a group heading slowly in a new direction. For the most, gone are the psychedelic Terry Kath guitar wig-outs that gave 'Chicago Transit Authority' and 'Chicago II' their impressive experimental edges, in comes simpler compositions, prettier melodies and the hit-making populist streak that would soon come - for better or worse - to characterize the group's career. However, that said, this is is still Chicago we're talking about. Yes, it's definitely less adventurous that its predecessors, yet there's still a strong selection of tunes on offer here, with such group classics as the soaring opener 'Hit By Varese', the two-part jazz-rock opus 'Dialogue' - a live favourite - and the breezy big band-themed ballad 'Saturday In The Park' standing out. One major point of interest: this is an album dominated by keyboardist-and-vocalist Robert Lamm who here pens eight out of the album's ten tracks. This, and the unusually short length does maybe hint towards an overall lack of available quality material, though whilst as a result of this 'Chicago V' may prove to be a minor work, this is still nevertheless a major group still more than capable of producing highly memorable music. Even Chicago's unessential albums have their gems, with 'Chicago V' a perfect example. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Review by TCat
3 stars With this being the fifth Chicago release and their first single album, Chicago started to mellow out a bit. They were pulling back on their jazziness to make room for more radio friendly albums. The signature brass sound is still there, just in smaller doses and the experimentation is down to a bare minimum. In fact, the only really good song on this one is Dialogue parts 1 and 2. The rest of the album is standard fare. But this is what really started churning in the money from the singles that would start coming over the air waves. In this album, you also still have some political statements to be made, but you also see the lyrics starting to lean towards the standard fare and the songs starting to have shorter durations of less than 5 minutes each. The prog is mostly missing on this album, so don't expect to find a lot of it here. It's good, but only in a standard kind of way. Nothing really essential here and the only outstanding track is the one I previously mentioned. 3 stars. Don't worry though, things would get better again before it got worse.

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