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Chicago Chicago XXVI - The Live Album album cover
3.93 | 11 ratings | 1 reviews | 27% 5 stars

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Live, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon (13:29)
2. (I've Been) Searchin' So Long (4:40)
3. Mongonucleosis (3:39)
4. Hard Habit to Break (5:16)
5. Call on Me (4:33)
6. Feelin' Stronger Every Day (4:24)
7. Just You 'N' Me (6:18)
8. Beginnings (5:51)
9. Hard to Say I'm Sorry/Get Away (5:38)
10. 25 or 6 to 4 (5:51)
11. Back to You (3:41)
12. If I Should Ever Lose You (4:30)
13. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher (4:11)

Tracks 11, 12 and 13 are new studio recordings

Line-up / Musicians

- Bill Champlin / pianos, keyboards, guitars
- Keith Howland / acoustic guitar, electric guitar
- Tris Imboden / drums, percussion
- Robert Lamm / pianos, keyboards, percussion, vocals, background vocals
- Lee Loughnane / trumpet, flugelhorn, cornet, guitar, percussion, background vocals
- James Pankow / trombone, percussion, background vocals
- Walter Parazaider / saxophones, flute, clarinet
- Jason Scheff / electric bass, vocals, background vocals

Releases information

CD Chicago Records (1999)

Thanks to snobb for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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CHICAGO Chicago XXVI - The Live Album ratings distribution

(11 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(55%)
Good, but non-essential (0%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (9%)

CHICAGO Chicago XXVI - The Live Album reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars They named a town after this band!

Released in 1999, "Chicago XXVI" ("26" to you) was only the band's second official live album released in their home country of the USA. As will be seen from their discography here, two other live recordings are available, but the recordings from Toronto in 1969, while not classed as bootlegs, were not part of the official discography, and "Live in Japan" was only initially released in that country.

This set covers the band's career right from the first album "Chicago Transit Authority" ("Beginnings") through to the AOR and ballads which prevailed on the band's more recent albums. Of interest here too are the three new studio recordings, but more of that later. The differences between the previous live box set "At Carnegie Hall" from the early 1970's and this go far beyond the change in musical style. The quality of sound at live performances has been transformed in the interim, as have the techniques used to capture them on record. The quality of the sound on this album is comparable with that of a studio album from say 1970.

Interestingly, with Peter Cetera having left the band some years previously, his contribution to their success is largely airbrushed out; even the multi-selling hit "If you leave me now" is passed over from the set list.

The opening "Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon", now often referred to as simply "The ballet", may seem like a strange choice for opener being a seven part suite, but it kicks things off superbly. Not only does it offer a link back to the band's earliest days ("Chicago II"), but it immediately introduces the diverse tenets which make up the band. A blast of horns, a ballad, a fine vocal performance and a good bit of rocking come together in this under- appreciated gem. The brass section come into their own again on the cut down rendition of "Mongonucleosis", a superb instrumental piece.

Peter Cetera's joint composition with James Pankow, "Feelin' Stronger Every Day", also comes across well, the band sounding like they are genuinely enjoying themselves. Inevitably a couple of the ballads which took the band to the top of the singles charts are included, and to be fair they come across pretty well. "Hard to say I'm sorry" includes the wonderful but all too short coda "Get away". The rendition of "25 or 6 to 4" which closes the live set may well be the best version of this landmark song that I have heard. The brass is absolutely outstanding here, the lead guitar solo stunning, and the vocal harmonies (dubbed or not!) magnificent.

Chicago were largely absent from the studios during the 1990's, and when they did pop by it was almost always to record cover version of songs. It is pleasing to report therefore that this album contains one brand new band composition, plus two further covers, all recorded in the studio. The Robert Lamm and Keith Howland song "Back to you" is a well performed power ballad with some good horns as backing. The first of the covers is the Burt Bacharach song "If I Should Ever Lose You", another soft song designed to focus on the vocal aspects of the band. The third of the new recordings is the most controversial among fans, as it features Michael McDonald on lead vocal. Many question the reasons for this, especially as the band boast more fine vocalists than almost any other band. Perhaps though we should simply see this version of the classic "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" as a one off indulgence.

In all, a highly enjoyable live album by Chicago. Significantly, it shows them relying heavily on material from their classic days in the 1970's. If only they could return to the studio and record new material of that ilk.

No information appears to be available about the source of these recordings, although the closing words of the band appear to indicate that "25 or 6 to 4" at least was recorded in the town named after them. We should assume though that the tracks here have been extracted from a much longer concert; and we can only speculate on what has been omitted. By all accounts, there has been some amount of overdubbing done to the recordings, especially of the horns and the vocals. Personally, I do not have a problem with this, but the purists among us may feel it is inappropriate tampering. The album failed to sell well, even in the band's heartland, oh and the sleeve is a bit of mess too!

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