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Chicago Chicago XI album cover
2.93 | 55 ratings | 5 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Mississippi Delta City Blues (4:39)
2. Baby, What A Big Surprise (3:04)
3. Till The End Of Time (4:49)
4. Policeman (4:02)
5. Take Me Back To Chicago (5:17)
6. Vote For Me (3:47)
7. Takin' It On Uptown (4:45)
8. This Time (4:44)
9. The Inner Struggles Of A Man (2:44)
10. Prelude (Little One) (0:52)
11. Little One (5:40)

Total time 44:23

Bonus tracks on 2003 remaster:
12. Wish I Could Fly (Rehearsal 1977) (3:47)
13. Paris (Rehearsal 1977) (3:55)

Line-up / Musicians

- Terry Kath / guitars, percussion, lead (1,7,10,11) & backing vocals
- Robert Lamm / keyboards, percussion, lead (4-6) & backing vocals, brass arrangements (4)
- James Pankow / trombone, grand piano (3), keyboards, percussion, lead (3) & backing vocals, brass arrangements (1,4,6,8,11)
- Lee Loughnane / trumpet, lead (8) & backing vocals
- Walter Parazaider / woodwinds, baritone sax (6)
- Peter Cetera / bass, lead (2) & backing vocals
- Daniel Seraphine / drums, percussion
- Laudir de Oliveira / percussion

- James William Guercio / acoustic guitar & bass (2), producer
- David Wolinski / ARP synthesizer (5), Fender Rhodes (11)
- Dominic Frontiere / orchestration (2,9), string & orchestral arrangements (11)
- The Voices Of Inspiration / chorus vocals (6)
- Alexander Hamilton / choir director (6)
- Tim Cetera / backing vocals (2)
- Carl Wilson / backing vocals (2)
- Chaka Khan / backing vocals (5)

Releases information

Artwork: John Berg

LP Columbia ‎- JC 34860 (1977, US)
LP Friday Music ‎- FRM 34860 (2016, US)

CD Chicago Records ‎- CRD-3011 (1988, US)
CD Rhino Records ‎- R2 76180 (2003, US) Remastered with 2 bonus tracks, previously unreleased

Thanks to snobb for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

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CHICAGO Chicago XI ratings distribution

(55 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(22%)
Good, but non-essential (49%)
Collectors/fans only (22%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CHICAGO Chicago XI reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Kazuhiro
4 stars January 23, 1978 will have been an impact for the band and the fan. And, this sad event is always handed down among the fan and listeners. Posture in which always reformative for playing guitar part is requested. Dissatisfaction that happens with effort to try always to develop the posture on the other hand insufficiency but between. Desire not filled even if there is room in money. Fact to which surroundings are always watched while holding extreme obsession. Decrease in ability of judgment of self. Secret part to which it depresses it with gun always.

The member of the band recollected a situation of Terry Kath at that time. The impact given to the band and the listener due to the accidental discharge accident of the gun that Terry Kath had set up might have been large.

This time was continuous of the misfortune for in the band. Accident that Terry Kath voluntarily caused as result. And, the fact to cancel the relation to James William Guercio that plays patron's role because of first to which the band is formed. A money problem became a deep ditch for both. And, the fact that the management newly contracted did not contribute to the band so much. And, the fact in which this album is made a boundary and the work since this album doesn't succeed in commerce. These points were very the misfortunes for the band.

However, the band neglected a more musical part in the situation and to make them mature, the effort was not neglected. The confrontation of the opinion by the member who records in "VII" put on the market in 1974 and happens mutually has advanced before long by some adjustments concerning the music character. It succeeds in expanding the width of the work by harmonizing each member's preference and individuality without requesting the setting concerning the conclusion and the theme.

The focus is adequately narrowed by introducing the music character filled in the content of "VIII" and "X". Music character that expands part in musical instruments and enhances it. Or, the method of processing ensemble of the band that twines the part of the song. The band that establishes it makes the hesitation wiped out since then, makes the sensibility and the route of POP refined further established, and has advanced.

The character of the message shown in an initial work has been declined a little in the music character at this time. However, this route and zeal proved splendidly attended with the conquest of three sections in Grammy. It might be this "XI" to have informed them of the height of the perfection. This album became on the register for Terry Kath. Introduction of secret lyrics to have a presentiment of it. Or, it is wide with the arrangement of the enhanced music by the guest. And, the height of the ability of the arrangement by each music. It is possible to catch as an album of the quality after equilibrium and flexibility join the music character of a mature band.

"Mississippi Delta City Blues" is a tune with the flavor of complete Jazz Funk. It is said that they are old tunes according to the remark of Terry Kath from which unnamed was still made in 1967. It is said that it is often performed after that and it was collected to this album. Performance of band by complete Groove. Part where obbligati by Brass is good. Progress of extending Chord. Flavor of their original Brass sections. Replacement of rhythm with dash feeling. The route of original Funk is given.

"Baby,What A Big Surprise" is a tune where the sensibility of Peter Cetera appears splendidly. Introduction of sweet Strings section. Chorus's coming in succession by Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys. The Brass section is intentionally excluded and the flavor of the ballade of good is produced. The composition of a song with a transparent feeling and an original melody is expressed well.

The song of "Till The End Of Time" by James Pankow is impressive. It is ..flavor of the Rock ballade mainly composed of three rhythms.. finished. Processing of gentle song and melody sung indifferently. Atmosphere that a few Blues is felt. An original chorus who is is one of the tastes of the band, too.

In "Policeman", the Brass section where a gentle melody and the anacatesthesia exist is a feature. Coming in succession of chorus who decides impression of song and tune with room of Robert Lamm. The composition of the progress of Chord will give the listener a pastoral impression.

In "Take Me Back To Chicago", secret lyrics and the melody are features. Sound and melody of keyboard with feature. Or, the chorus of Chaka Khan might be completely dyed to the tune. A melody of the keyboard on the way of the tune and the dash feeling of Brass are complete.

"Vote For Me" is a tune with the flavor of straight Rock An Roll. The sensibility of Robert Lamm is expressed well. A powerful song and the chorus are features. Steady Groove and atmosphere appear well.

"Takin'It On Uptown" has the flavor of complete Blues Rock. Atmosphere with a good flow that adds the element of Funk to the flow a little is put out. Melody of guitar and part of Cutting Work. The band is very Funky.

The flavor of the band appears well in "This Time". The song of Lee Loughnane sounds gently. Really, the melody that members other than Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera make demonstrates their impressions to its maximum. The progress of Solo and Chord of the guitar is sensual. The obbligati of Brass also produces their flavors well. The flavor is preeminent.

"The Inner Struggles Of A Man" is a very active tune. The element of classics is taken and a solemn impression is decided. It succeeds though the song doesn't appear in expanding the width of the impression of the album. It is a tune with a very grand melody. And, the tune is connected from a moving part with Prelude.

"Prelude(Little One)" has been approved as a complete prelude. Progress of Chord that calls impression. The flow that the element of classics is introduced reaches the peak.

"Little One" is a tune dedicated for the child between wives where drum player's Danny Seraphine received the catastrophe. Soulful song and feelings by Terry Kath. It approves as a complete ballade. And, an advanced come in succession by the melody and the flavor of the band composition might be moving. Melody of chorus and shining keyboard. Complete obbligati by Brass. The tune of this album is very abundant. Idea to introduce rhythm of Samba. It is a melody of beautiful Strings and Brass as much as possible. United transparent feelings. The composition is complete.

The band is complete, and only it doesn't mature simply and an idea of this album and a multipronged composition are complete when considering it from respect of the arrangement and the composition. And, it is likely to have prayed for the band to be continued as for Terry Kath through all eternity.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The end of an era (Take me back to Chicago)

Having struck gold with "If you leave me now", Chicago's yearning for further commercial success led to them record another commercially orientated album. Oddly though, given his major involvement in the aforementioned single, Peter Cetera takes a back seat for most of this album, writing just one of the tracks ("Baby what a big surprise", which is also the only song he provides the lead vocal for). The song was though another huge hit single for the band, the smooth romantic nature of the song appealing to the same market which the band had found for "If you leave me now".

Things kick off with Terry Kath's "Mississippi delta city blues", a song which had first been demoed around 1972, a version appearing as a bonus track on the CD release of "Chicago V". The principle difference here is the vocal and brass arrangement, but the song remains a workout in pop funk; nice horns though. The aforementioned "Baby what a big surprise" includes a backing vocal credit for Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys and a Tim Cetera. The song is pure pop, but a pleasant listen nonetheless.

Although the sleeve notes state that important compositional contributions were made by all the guys (to every track), the album is notable for the way each credited composer takes control over their own track. On "Till the end of time" for example, James Pankow sings lead vocal and plays piano (offering a tongue in cheek apology to Robert Lamm along the way). Lamm take on lead vocal duties for his song "Policeman", working with Pankow on the brass arrangement for the song ( a role usually reserved for Pankow alone). The song offers an unusual view of the life of a policeman, painting a picture of someone with genuine feelings caught up in a world of tragedy, misfortune and solitude.

Danny Seraphine and session musician David "Hawk" Wolinski co-wrote "Take me back to Chicago". Wolinski adds ARP synthesiser to the track, later appearing on "Little one" where he plays Fender Rhodes. Robert Lamm sings lead vocal, but once again the composer (Seraphine) helps with the brass arrangement. The song is one of the more interesting on the album, the varied instrumental arrangement offering something a little more stimulating. Chaka Khan sings backing vocals on the track, coming to the fore on the soulful ending. The track was a minor hit single in the USA.

Robert Lamm's only other composition is "Vote for me", a cynical look at a political manifesto for someone who will do anything to buy your vote. The song features choral vocals by "The voices of inspiration of Compton" and some fine keyboard playing by Lamm. It's very much a fun song, but its toe-tapping nature make it irresistible. Terry Kath co- writes "Takin' it on uptown" with a Fred Kagan, leading to a rather strange publishing credit for this one track. The song is not particularity Chicago like, or for that matter all that good.

Lee Loughnane's sole track is "This time" where he once again offers a rare vocal and inevitably helps Pankow with the brass arrangement. The track includes some good lead guitar to complement the brass, and what probably constitutes the longest instrumental section on the album. The album closes with Danny Seraphine's two part "Little one", a piece he co-wrote with the aforementioned David "Hawk" Wolinski. Lasting for about 6 minutes this is by far the most accomplished piece on the entire album. The theme may be a bit drippy (dedicated to Seraphine's own kids), and the orchestral arrangement a bit MOR, but the brass and wind arrangement combined with a soulful vocal set the song apart. It is not classic Chicago in terms of the band's early work by any means, but there is a least an attempt here to move beyond the pop rock which now dominates the band's output.

In all then, a pleasantly inoffensive set which sees tracks being developed slightly more than on "Chicago X". There is a disjointed feel to the album brought about by each band member treating their compositional contributions as their own babies.

"Chicago XI" would close an astonishing first chapter in the history of the band. Following the release of this album, the band would split with their long term manager and mentor James Guercio, citing what they perceived as his misplaced dominance over their work (a little ironic given the increasingly possessive attitudes of the band members to their own compositions) . More importantly, and infinitely more tragic, was the accidental suicide in 1978 of founding member Terry Kath, who shot himself with a gun he mistakenly thought not to be loaded. By equally tragic coincidence, the inner sleeve of the LP portrays the band as a gang of bank robbing mobsters in a shoot-out with the police.

Review by Tom Ozric
2 stars Since CHICAGO have been inducted into the Progressive Archives, I've become quite the fan. This release, Chicago XI, retains relative favour from most reviewers - it does contain some fine tracks, however, for my ears it's an almost business-to-be sort of album. Album opener, Mississippi Delta City Blues, is a killer tune that was performed as early as 1972, as evidenced on the rare and fantastic 'Live In Japan' double LP. A very decent start to this, mostly pedestrian album. The most Prog-related section on here would have to be the closing set of 3 songs ; a suite of sorts lasting over 9 minutes, kicking off under the title of 'The Inner Struggles Of a Man' - starting out in grand orchestrated fashion, moving through some dramatic and captivating themes, it offers plenty of emotional colour (reminding me of the wistfully orchestrated moments presented on SOFT MACHINE's 'Land of Cockayne' album) and evolves into a smooth and touching M.O.R. piece with a soulful lead vocal from guitarist Terry Kath. It really is a beautiful and engaging piece of music. 'Vote For Me' features some witty lyrics and grinding Hammond Organ from Robert Lamm. Elsewhere the songs don't really demonstrate the prowess of the band as musicians, rather as successful song-writers with mostly good taste, but veering on the side of blandness. The only chart success of the album goes to Pete Cetera's 'Baby, What A Big Surprise', which was nice but not something to write home about. Personally, I preferred 'If You Leave Me Now'........ 2 stars.
Review by Chicapah
2 stars After Chicago peaked with their excellent VII album in '74 they became satisfied to be a pop group that occasionally drifted near the outskirts of jazz/rock fusion rather than the other way around. Some of their subsequent albums sounded decent but none of them were particularly progressive or adventuresome and XI is no exception. Like many bands who've managed to stay intact for a decade or more, they fell into comfortable, safe ruts that guaranteed them a respectable amount of sales and allowed the gravy train to keep on 'a rollin' unimpeded. I'm not excusing them from strapping their saddle atop the commercial cash cow but it's yet another example of human proclivities trumping free creativity and diminishing the impact an entity can have in their chosen field of art once a little success creeps into the picture. In the late 70s my feelings about this outfit, formerly one of my favorites, had evolved from admiration to apathy that stemmed from repeated disappointments in their vinyl offerings. I finally had to accept that the dangerous lions of the Midwest had now become a litter of harmless kittens.

Guitarist Terry Kath's "Mississippi Delta City Blues" starts things off in a loose but lively way with a funky, Sly & the Family Stone-styled motif. The song shows promise early on mainly because of the tight track they laid down under it with drummer Danny Seraphine playing more distinctively than he has in years. The crisp horn arrangement, as usual, is the icing on the cake but I still can't give the tune more than a so-so rating. Any hopes for something exhilarating to happen are dashed on the jagged pop rocks about two seconds into bassman/crooner Peter Cetera's "Baby, What a Big Surprise." By now they were routinely capitalizing on their carefully-calculated image of being mainstays in the upper regions of the Top 40 charts due to their unending stream of lush ballads so this is hardly a surprise at all. I appreciate that they spent time on the string score and the layered vocal harmonies (with Beach Boy Carl Wilson assisting) but it only made a schmaltzy song even more overly-saccharine and hard to digest. Trombonist James Pankow's "Till the End of Time" is next and it's a case of doo-wop nostalgia gone bad. It grows tiresome quickly and is so predictable as to be patronizing. Simply put, they do nothing to put a fresh spin on their venture into the past. Things look up slightly with keyboard player Robert Lamm's "Policeman" because they present the tune with a light Latin feel that's very welcome at this point even though the jazz aspect is extremely contemporary in nature. Kudos go out to the horn section for adding some highlights and elevating the track's class quotient.

One thing that makes this album stick out in their catalogue is the fact that Seraphine, not known for his composing skills up to this juncture, contributes the best numbers on the record, beginning with a song that expresses what many of their fans had been wishing they'd do for a long time, "Take Me Back to Chicago." The tune has different elements to enjoy and a few nifty detours off the beaten path that remind me of what I loved about them in the first place when they were willing to take risks. Bringing in Chaka Khan to supply some soulful singing doesn't hurt one bit, either. The growl of Lamm's Hammond B3 organ is the only interesting thing going on in his "Vote For Me." It's a mix of rock, R&B and funk that doesn't quite gel mainly because the song's basic structure is too weak to make much of a mark. It comes off more like a handy vehicle to voice a political statement about how candidates lie (what else is new?) than a well-thought-out idea. Kath's "Takin' It on Uptown" is a riff-based funk/rock ditty that doesn't benefit from its intentional rough character and suffers greatly from a dearth of dynamics. While Terry tears it up pretty good on the guitar I question the wisdom of leaving the horn section out of the proceedings.

Trumpeter Lee Loughlane's "This Time" has a Motown-ish groove that's inviting but it takes a lot to impress me when someone dips into that particular genre and they come up short, as do most. It's no embarrassment but it does pass right on by like everyday traffic. As intimated before, Danny outdoes himself on this album. The last three cuts are splendidly intertwined and he had a lot to do with their creation. "The Inner Struggle of a Man" is a short symphonic piece by Dominic Frontiere with ominous overtones ala Aaron Copland and then Seraphine's "Prelude" serves as a segue to "Little One." The number's jazzy but floral atmosphere might be a bit too romantic for some but in light of what they'd been putting out on the last few LPs it at least has some intricate parts to ponder. Loughlane's trumpet solo is excellent and the cohesive triad of tunes in general makes me wonder why they'd become so hell bent on doggedly downplaying their jazz side when it was what put them on the map back in '69.

Released in September 1977, the album went up to #6 but very few of the original followers they'd captivated and cultivated in the early years were still paying much attention. The abandonment of their jazz/rock fusion roots was no temporary phase and the likelihood of them doing an about face was growing slimmer by the record. Of course no one knew that one of their strongest assets was soon to depart this mortal coil and change the complexion of the group forevermore. Terry Kath took his own life in a tragic gun accident and a huge part of what was left of their rebelliousness went with him. He represented the rock half of their initial jazz/rock fusion persona and his gruff voice added a unique dimension to their sound that couldn't be replaced. This was also the last album to be produced by the overbearing James William Guercio and, by not having to answer to him any longer, the door was wide open for them to do something innovative and exciting. Whether they'd be brave enough to do that was yet to be determined. 2.2 stars.

Review by TCat
3 stars As the drive for more commercial success pushed Chicago towards more radio friendly material, the quality of the music put out by the band continues to slide. This album definitely leans towards the commercial soft sounds that would romanticize their music so that it would become pop by pushing the horns to the back and focusing on the lyrics. You can really hear this effect on this album. Now, it's not a complete loss yet because there are a few blues oriented numbers in the excellent "Mississippi Delta Blues" and "Takin' It On Uptown" with their snippets of brass hooks and a little heavier guitar driven sound. The light jazz tune "Take Me Back to Chicago" is not bad with the addition of the soulful sounds somewhat similar to "Skinny Boy" from album "VII". There is also a return to the suite style of the original first 3 albums (even though the songs aren't listed together as a suite). The last three tracks make up this suite, and it is a mostly orchestral driven suite, very dramatically sung and reminiscent of some of the original ballads. But, for the most part, the heart of the band is mostly missing, their minds were on the money and the money was on their minds, so to speak. The songs are just not as interesting. The same thing would happen on the "Hot Streets" album, then after that, Chicago would just risk all heart and soul to the commercial machine. This one is only good, but it is not essential with only a few standout tracks and a lot of commercial appeal.

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