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Chicago biography
Founded in Chicago, Illinois, USA in 1967 - Still active as of 2017

The original members of Chicago met at DePaul University in the late 60s and began playing cover gigs under the name The Big Six. Moving to Los Angeles in 68 they signed with Columbia records and released their first album in April 1969. From the beginning the band members fused a three piece horn section with a hard rock combo to play innovative music that combined rock, jazz, pop, RnB and classical into a sound that was distinctively their own.

Over the years Chicago gradually changed membership, likewise the direction of their music shifted as well. Eventually the lengthy arrangements and jazzy solos of the earlier albums gave way to sophisticated pop and lite rock that matched the age of their maturing audience. One of the most enduring acts in the history of rock, Chicago continues to record and tour to this day.

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CHICAGO Videos (YouTube and more)

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The Very Best of Chicago: Only the BeginningThe Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning
Rhino Records 2002
$3.49 (used)
Chicago II - Live On Soundstage (CD/DVD)Chicago II - Live On Soundstage (CD/DVD)
Rhino Records 2018
Chicago: VI Decades Live (4CD/1DVD)Chicago: VI Decades Live (4CD/1DVD)
Rhino Records 2018
$39.00 (used)
The Best Of Chicago: 40th Anniversary Edition (2CD)The Best Of Chicago: 40th Anniversary Edition (2CD)
Rhino Records 2007
$2.80 (used)
Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix)Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix)
Rhino Records 2017
$11.94 (used)
Chicago's Greatest HitsChicago's Greatest Hits
Rhino Records 2005
$2.50 (used)
The Studio Albums 1969-1978 (Vol. 1)(10CD)The Studio Albums 1969-1978 (Vol. 1)(10CD)
Box set
Rhino Records 2012
$27.22 (used)
Greatest Hits 1982-1989 (Vinyl)Greatest Hits 1982-1989 (Vinyl)
Rhino/Warner Bros. 2016
$17.94 (used)
Chicago Story: Complete Greatest HitsChicago Story: Complete Greatest Hits
Wea International 2004
$7.00 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Chicago blues harmonica LP Big Leon Brooks Let's Go to Town Odie Payne shrink USD $24.98 Buy It Now
Jazz at Philharmonic Blues Chicago 1955 Dizzy Peterson FREE US SHIPPING USD $19.35 Buy It Now
sealed private Black Gospel soul LP Inspirational Choir Apostolic Church Chicago USD $24.98 Buy It Now
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USD $11.70 Buy It Now
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This Is the Day by Walt Whitman & the Soul Children of Chicago (Gospel) (CD, Aug USD $16.12 Buy It Now
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Chicago [The Miramax Motion Picture Soundtrack] by Various Artists (CD, Jan-200. USD $5.00 [0 bids]
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Foreigner Loretta Goggi Chicago - 15 Super Hits Del '82 Lp Ex 20161119 Pop 12" USD $7.50 Buy It Now
[Chicago Typewriter] CD+Booklet+Signature 2017 Korean TVN TV Drama OST Sealed USD $26.90 Buy It Now
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Magic Bus -- Live from Chicago by Pete Townshend (CD, 2004 Compendia... USD $12.00 Buy It Now
MUNITION The Black Wave CD punk rock 2001 Chicago 4-piece Feds USD $5.69 Buy It Now
CHICAGO Night & Day (Big Band) JAPAN CD BVCG-7401 1997 USD $19.49 Buy It Now
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Kicking Television: Live in Chicago by Wilco (CD, 2 Disks Nonesuch 79903-2) 2005 USD $8.99 Buy It Now
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45rpm PAPER LACE The Night Chicago Died/Can You Get It When You Want It 7"Record USD $1.68 Buy It Now
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Chicago Christmas - What's It Gonna Be, Santa? - CD FACTORY SEALED FREE SHIP NEW USD $6.99 Buy It Now
Lord Superior 45 Gun Control / Wouldn't Go to Chicago - Trinidad Calypso - HEAR USD $19.95 [0 bids]
Lot of 8 Vintage Reel to Reel Tapes Chicago Sinatra Streisand Cash USD $30.00 [0 bids]
99 cent CD -- Chicago "Greatest HIts" USD $0.74 [0 bids]
USD $0.97 Buy It Now
KYLE ANDREWS Amos In Ohio-CHICAGO IL.electronic pop-Cd Factory Sealed NEW OOP USD $8.00 Buy It Now
Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Tchaikovsky Symphony 5 Pathetique (VICS1163) (LP) USD $9.28 Buy It Now
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Brahms Violin Concerto (RB16117) 1955 USD $18.57 Buy It Now
NIGHT RANGER 35 Years And A In Chicago JAPAN Blu-ray GQXS-90199~1 2016 NEW USD $178.68 Buy It Now 2m 28s
JAZZ STORY VOL 2 - EX/VG Capitol HiFi LP W2138 North To Chicago~Hines, Hodges USD $13.95 Buy It Now 3m 34s
Van Cliburn, Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, RCA Victor USD $4.50 Buy It Now 11m 18s
JIMMY & MAMA YANCEY - Chicago Piano - GATEFOLD VINYL LP US PRESS USD $16.91 Buy It Now 12m 3s
2532 022 Tchaikovsky 1812 Capriccio Italien Marche Slave Chicago Sym Barenboim USD $13.26 Buy It Now 17m 59s
Bonnie Lee, Nick Hol - Classic Chicago Blues [New CD] USD $10.90 Buy It Now 18m 12s
LONNIE BROOKS-"Live F/ Chicago-Bayou Lightning Strikes" LP, 1988 Alligator-4759 USD $9.00 Buy It Now 33m 13s
Chicago - SEALED 16 LP - 23089-1 USD $20.82 Buy It Now 36m 2s
BESSIE GRIFFIN & GOSPEL PEARLS - Live At Bear In Chicago - CD - *SEALED/NEW* USD $53.95 Buy It Now 42m 17s
Sawbuc - Hood in Heaven - 1997 Chicago, IL rare cassette USD $20.00 Buy It Now 44m 13s
Sinatra/ Bennet /Buble -Rags to riches/ Blue Velvet / /Nice'n'easy/ CHICAGO USD $2.59 [0 bids]
44m 19s
16 hot tracks / JUDY GARLAND - I'm nobody's baby/ Swanee / Chicago /Smile USD $2.64 [0 bids]
44m 19s
SOLTI/CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCH. - Ravel: Bolero; Debussy: La Mer / Solti - Mint USD $15.95 Buy It Now 58m 27s
CHICAGO VI Vinyl Record LP - 1973 - Columbia 32400 - Rock USD $10.16 Buy It Now 1h
1h 9m
CHICAGO - Viii - CD - Import - **Excellent Condition** USD $17.49 Buy It Now 1h 10m
CHICAGO IF YOU LEAVE ME NOW Cassette Tape USD $10.31 Buy It Now 1h 13m
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1h 57m
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Triple darkness - Cold Blooded E.P. 1997 Chicago IL CD VG Cond. Really Rare CD USD $115.00 Buy It Now 2h 5m
Chicago:Hard habit to break/Remember the feeling:UK Hit USD $3.97 Buy It Now 2h 13m
Chicago:Never been in love before/Hideaway:UK CBS:1975 USD $6.62 Buy It Now 2h 13m
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Chicago:Along comes a woman (remix)/We can stop the hurtin':UK :1984 USD $3.97 Buy It Now 2h 13m
Chicago:Baby, what a big surprise/Takin' it on uptown:UK Hit USD $3.97 Buy It Now 2h 13m
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<> London CSA 2404 Beethoven/Five Piano Concertos Georg Solti/Chicago Symphony USD $15.00 Buy It Now 2h 23m
Chicago 17 1984 Warner Bros 1ST PRESS IN SHRINK NM+/NM 1 SMOKE FREE OWNER USD $19.95 Buy It Now 2h 26m
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Chicago Another Rainy Day in New York 7" Vinyl Single Columbia 3-10360 USD $10.60 Buy It Now 3h 3m
Radio Promo 12" Rod Stewart / Chicago / Tracy Chapman / Anita Baker RARE! USD $13.35 Buy It Now 3h 5m
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More places to buy CHICAGO music online Buy CHICAGO & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

CHICAGO discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

CHICAGO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.06 | 187 ratings
The Chicago Transit Authority
4.12 | 167 ratings
Chicago [Aka: Chicago II]
3.60 | 90 ratings
Chicago III
3.30 | 81 ratings
Chicago V
2.57 | 65 ratings
Chicago VI
4.02 | 82 ratings
Chicago VII
2.94 | 49 ratings
Chicago VIII
3.02 | 59 ratings
Chicago X
2.92 | 53 ratings
Chicago XI
2.06 | 40 ratings
Hot Streets
1.76 | 32 ratings
Chicago 13
1.75 | 28 ratings
Chicago XIV
2.43 | 37 ratings
Chicago 16
2.66 | 42 ratings
Chicago 17
2.61 | 33 ratings
Chicago 18
2.49 | 23 ratings
Chicago 19
1.53 | 26 ratings
Twenty 1
3.69 | 21 ratings
Night & Day - Big Band
2.81 | 12 ratings
Chicago 25 [Aka: The Christmas Album]
2.39 | 22 ratings
Chicago XXX
3.80 | 31 ratings
XXXII - Stone Of Sisyphus
3.00 | 5 ratings
Chicago XXXIII - O Christmas Three
3.20 | 5 ratings
The Nashville Sessions
3.31 | 20 ratings
Now - Chicago XXXVI

CHICAGO Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.05 | 44 ratings
Chicago at Carnegie Hall
3.94 | 26 ratings
Live in Japan
3.13 | 5 ratings
Beginnings (In Concert)
4.04 | 10 ratings
Chicago XXVI - The Live Album
3.60 | 6 ratings
Chicago XXXIV: Live in '75

CHICAGO Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.05 | 4 ratings
Soundstage Presents Chicago
4.00 | 2 ratings

CHICAGO Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.56 | 21 ratings
Chicago IX - Greatest Hits
2.09 | 5 ratings
Greatest Hits, Vol. 2
3.00 | 1 ratings
Love Songs
1.32 | 6 ratings
Greatest Hits 1982-1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Heart Of Chicago
2.88 | 7 ratings
The Heart Of Chicago 1967-1997
3.00 | 2 ratings
2.50 | 2 ratings
The Heart Of Chicago 1967-1998 Volume II
3.50 | 4 ratings
The Chicago Story: Complete Greatest Hits
3.16 | 6 ratings
The Very Best Of: Only The Beginning
4.75 | 4 ratings
The Box
2.86 | 5 ratings
Love Songs (2005)
4.00 | 4 ratings
The Best Of Chicago
3.33 | 3 ratings
Collector's Edition
5.00 | 2 ratings
Chicago Quadio

CHICAGO Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.75 | 5 ratings
I'm A Man
3.36 | 7 ratings
25 or 6 to 4 / Where Do We Go From Here
4.25 | 5 ratings
Make Me Smile / Colour My World
3.50 | 3 ratings
Lowdown / Loneliness Is Just A Word
0.00 | 0 ratings
‎? ロウダウン (Lowdown) / 欲しいのは君だけ (I Don't Want Your Money)
3.50 | 5 ratings
Feelin' Stronger Every Day
3.33 | 3 ratings
Just You 'N' Me / Critic's Choice
3.33 | 3 ratings
Call On Me
3.50 | 4 ratings
Wishing You Were Here
1.24 | 8 ratings
If You Leave Me Now
2.00 | 4 ratings
Baby, What A Big Surprise / If You Leave Me Now
2.00 | 2 ratings
Baby, What A Big Surprise / Takin' It On Uptown
1.25 | 4 ratings
No Tell Lover / Take A Chance
2.00 | 2 ratings
Street Player


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Chicago Quadio by CHICAGO album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2016
5.00 | 2 ratings

Chicago Quadio
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by tmay102436

5 stars I could write and write and write about this Quadio Box by Chicago, but instead will simply say: BUY THIS!!! Although the last couple of albums aren't "my cup of tea," the sound quality, surround work - very discrete, is stunning. And man oh man, had I forgotten what an incredible band this is / was - especially the early masterpieces. And I had never heard VII - what an incredible work. Terry Kath - a true rock guitarists of the highest order, and the rhythm section are superb, and to me, never got the praise they deserved.

I have become addicted to the surround experience, and I'm here to tell you, this is as good as most (and a lot better than some!) modern remixes - surround releases.

I am mainly an English progressive rock fanatic, but this release has really captured what wonderful composition, beautiful arrangements, and expert production accomplished by this legendary American ensemble.

 25 or 6 to 4 / Where Do We Go From Here by CHICAGO album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1970
3.36 | 7 ratings

25 or 6 to 4 / Where Do We Go From Here
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I have to say that I never have listened to a full album from CHICAGO. I only have listened to some of their Hit Singles being played in some oldies FM Radio stations in my city. Like BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS, a band with a similar musical style, at least with the use of some brass instruments, this band has never been very interesting for me with the exception of some of their early singles like this single from 1970.

"25 or 6 to 4" is a very good song with a very characteristic guitar and bass riff and very good brass arrangements. It is maybe one of the "heaviest" tracks that I have listened to from them, with a very good lead guitar part and very good lead and backing vocals. It is maybe one of their most known songs, at least in my country. But the version that was released in this single is an edited version of the song which originally has a duration of five minutes. Anyway, the song sounds good in both versions, but I prefer the original version.

"Where Do We Go from Here", in the Side 2 of this single, is a very good ballad, without brass instruments, which maybe shows, with less "sugar" than other of their singles, some of the good ballads that this band has recorded during their very long musical history.

CHICAGO was one of the very few International Rock bands that came to play to my country in the seventies, a time when Rock concerts were almost "prohibited" because very often there were riots. If I remember well, there were riots outside one of the venues in which this band played in my city in 1975. The same happened with PROCOL HARUM in the same year. (I was too young to attend both concerts). It was until 1989 when ROD STEWART played some concerts in my country that International Rock Concerts here became a very common thing. It seems that the public that went to the concerts in the eighties-nineties finally learned to "behave well". But the seventies were very hard times for Rock music in my country.

 Chicago VI by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.57 | 65 ratings

Chicago VI
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by PoolmanProgger

3 stars Chicago VI marks a departure for Chicago, as the jazz fusion and progressive stylings that the group had pursued previously were scraped for a sound with a more funky delivery, one that took its influence from Little Feat rather than Miles Davis. Also, Chicago VI was the first Chicago album heavy on ballads and light-rockers, a side effect of both James Pankow's increasingly generic horn arrangements and Robert Lamm experiencing writer's block, not to mention producer James William Guercio's smothering control of the band's sound and image. To make matters worse, the band members were creatively and emotionally drained after four-plus years of non-stop touring and recording. All of these factors contributed to the top-heavy Chicago VI, an album that, if not for several stand out tracks, would have been a lemon. Robert Lamm wrote half of the tracks on Chicago VI. "Critics' Choice" was Lamm's response to the band's negative critics, and a rather scathing lyric as well. Lamm criticizes the bloated egos and self-righteousness of said critics: "You parasite/You're dynamite/An oversight/Misunderstanding what you hear/You're quick to cheer/And volunteer/Absurdities, musicals, blasphemies". I can't help but think that a certain Robert Christgau was the target of Lamm's scorn, and it appears Christgau took it personally. Just take a look at his (very) brief review of Chicago VI: "Any horn band that's reduced to writing songs about critics and copping (unsuccessfully) from both Motown and America must be running out of--how do you say eet?--good charts." More on that copping unsucessfully from Motown later. Aside from the lyrics, "Critics' Choice" is a beautiful piano-driven tune, which adds to the depth of the lyrics. One of the better tunes on Chicago VI.

Lamm's next composition, "Darlin' Dear", is a very funky track, and reminds me a lot of Little Feat or the Allman Brothers Band. Chicago really ventures out of their comfort zone here, and they thoroughly nail it. A rag time piano and a slide guitar, virgin territory for Chicago, are nice touches, and blend in quite nicely with the horns. "Something in the City Changes People", Lamm's third composition on Chicago VI as well as the opener for Side Two, is probably Lamm's best tune on the album. A smooth piano with great vocal harmonies and congas, not to mention fantastic bass playing from Mr. Cetera, set up a dreamy flute solo accented by acoustic guitar, which gently segues into the next track, "Hollywood", another Lamm dittie. "Hollywood" is a rather weak lyric, supposedly critical of the phoniness of Hollywood celebrities, but Lamm doesn't do a very good job of expressing it, even jogging out a tired "Heard It Through the Grapevine" chorus. A very weak track aside from the horns and congas, which really shine on this otherwise lackluster performance. Lamm's final track, "Rediscovery", is quite funky, with a lyric about the narrator going out to a place in the mountains to rediscover himself. The rhythm section is strong on this one, but the funky guitar solo in the middle is a bit weak, and the horns really seem tired and going through the motions at this point.

Terry Kath and Peter Cetera each have one composition a piece on Chicago VI, and, as you probably would have guessed, they're nothing special. Kath's ballad, "Jenny" has good percussion with those congas making another appearance, and rather confusing lyrics. Is it a father talking to his daughter about her new child? Is the narrator a pimp? Is he talking to his baby mama regarding their bastard child? Who knows; the song is pretty forgettable, but not as forgettable as Cetera's piece, "In Terms of Two", which has to be, hands-down, the WORST track on Chicago VI. An uncredited harmonica opens the track, very unusual for Chicago, and what follows is a country-rock tune that falls flat on its face. Whereas the slide guitar worked on "Darlin' Dear", it fails miserably on this track. An obvious attempt at exploiting the country rock boom of the early 70s. There is nothing memorable at all about this track, and I wish that I had never heard it.

The three best tracks on Chicago VI are James Pankow's compositions. "Just You N Me" was a smash hit, climbing to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Pankow wrote the song about his feelings for his future wife, and the emotion really comes through in this one. Cetera has a great vocal delivery, and Walter Parazaider performs a soprano saxophone solo to accompany Terry Kath's wah-wah guitar. Initially, it may sound like a sappy radio-friendly ballad, but it really fills out nicely. The next Pankow piece is "What's This World Comin' To?", the longest track on the album, clocking in at nearly five minutes, as well as the Side One closer. The best lyric on the entire album, the lyrics are politically charged - Pankow borrowing a page from Lamm - with an emphasis on being benevolent toward one another. The lyrics are especially critical of those rich and in power. The terrific rhythm section and horns really flesh out this standout track, as well as a top-notch organ.

Pankow's last composition on Chicago VI, a song which he co-wrote with Peter Cetera, is the seminal album closer "Feelin' Stronger Every Day", the hands-down best song on Chicago VI and one of the group's most enduring tracks. A fan favorite down to the modern day, "Feelin' Stronger" pretty much saves Side Two from being a laughing stock and is the only reason you should still be listening to this album all the way through. Terry Kath uses the wah-wah guitar to perfection on this track, steadily upping the tempo of the track until it bursts out of its shackles about halfway through. There is so much emotion and energy in this song that its premature ending at 4:15 is cruel. "Feelin' Stronger" is one of Chicago's best songs, and it is sure to leave a strong impression on the listener.

Chicago VI was Chicago's sixth album in four years, their fifth studio effort, and all that wear and tear from constant touring and promotion of their albums was starting to wear off. Chicago VI, as a result, sounds a bit tired and lackadaisical. After starting out strong, the album runs out of steam on Side Two, virtually lulling the listener to sleep until the energetic "Feelin' Stronger" revives them again. That said, Chicago VI definitely has high peaks, but it also has very deep valleys. A very uneven record, but it still has enough highlights on it to be worthy of any prog fan's collection.

 Chicago XI by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.92 | 53 ratings

Chicago XI
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

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.
 Chicago X by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.02 | 59 ratings

Chicago X
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The feel of Chicago X is really very close to Chicago VIII (Chicago IX was a greatest hits collection, so we'll skip that one). Just like VIII, X has a great variety of blues and jazz infused rock, streamlined shorter yet well developed tracks, but this one is not as guitar oriented as VIII was. Still, the tracks are still enjoyable and their are plenty of things to love about it. You will notice the trend though especially after this album. Things are less interesting on "XI" and "Hot Streets", then after that, Chicago lost my interest completely. So, I still love this album, again it is not perfect, but it is still enjoyable and better that "V" and "VI". They didn't give it all up to pop quite yet, but it is getting close. Another excellent album and addition to your rock collection. 4 stars.
 Chicago VIII by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.94 | 49 ratings

Chicago VIII
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I know this one was not very well liked by the critics and, from the looks of this site, many of the reviewers here. I guess after the excellent return to form and jazz heavy album Chicago VII, everyone was expecting more. Instead, Chicago shifted back to a more streamlined rock-oriented sound. This album is still a far cry from the hit churning days to come and if the critics had heard that before this album, maybe the reviews would have been nicer.

My personal opinion on this album is that it has always been a favorite and I consider it the best of all the single release albums Chicago put out. There is a tendency to more guitar oriented rock on this one. Take for example, the tracks "Hideaway" with that hard rock guitar riff and driving rhythm. It's not very often after this album that you would hear Peter Cetera sing on a hard rock song. The other example is the tribute to Jimi Hendrix called "Oh Thank You Great Spirit". This one is a hard driving song with psychedelic leanings and an amazing guitar solo which is also the longest track on the album. There are the bluesy tracks with "Ain't it Blue" and "Anything You Want". And there are the signature rock/jazz fusion tracks with "Brand New Love Affair, Pts. 1 and 2". Then you have the radio singles "Harry Truman" and "Old Days". These radio singles were not extremely popular so they are not worn out from airplay like many of the Chicago singles.

With plenty of variety and good somewhat challenging songs, there is still plenty to enjoy and get excited about. This album is definitely better than albums "V" and "VI". The songs are better developed and better quality then the poor attempts at popular music that was place on those albums. The music is still a lot more enjoyable and sincere than the commercial fiasco that would plague the band further down the road. Okay, so it's not the most progressive, but it is full of driving rhythms, the brass is still prevalent on a lot of the tracks even though it is more guitar driven and rock oriented. This one is worth serious consideration as one that should be added to your music collection. Not perfect, but still and excellent addition to your collection. 4 stars.

 Chicago VII by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.02 | 82 ratings

Chicago VII
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars After 2 albums of lite jazz pop, the band Chicago was getting restless and tired of playing non challenging music. So the original idea was to make an album with nothing but jazz on it. Wow, what an amazing idea. Well, some of the members thought so. Others started to worry that the band would lose it's radio audience, so they added a few more radio friendly songs and pretty soon, a new double album was born. This was the first multi album since the "Live at Carnegie Hall" album which at that time and all before, every album was at least 2 discs.

So, we have a lot of good signs now that Chicago is returning to form. And this they do, producing an amazing album of jazz and jazz fusion that would rival even their first 2 albums. The jazz on this is even jazzier than ever. In fact, the first vocals aren't even heard until way into the 6th track! Now that is a risk that you just have to admire. Nothing is boring here either, and apparently the public loved it because the album sold. The instrumentals are top notch, tight playing and upbeat with a lot of structured and improvisational playing. When the vocals do come in, they are not out of place but are very welcome. Even Peter Cetera's songwriting skills had improved greatly where previously he was probably the weakest songwriter, eventually he would be the one to carry the band several years later, but it would be without any sort of progressiveness whatsoever. But, for now, let's enjoy great music.

What we finally get with the final product in Chicago VII is almost one full disc full of jazz and almost one full disc of the signature jazz/rock sound that Chicago was famous for. But don't worry all you prog lovers out there, the more accessible songs here are all still very enjoyable, keeping a little bit of challenge to them even while reaching radio readiness. There were several singles that still came off of this album, one of them with great psychedelic leanings; "Wishing You Were Here". The band was able to pull off the nearly impossible with creating jazz that is reminiscent of the jazz greats, and still making popular music that is still worthy of listening to. Ladies and gentlemen, this is how it is done and Chicago proved it could be done, that with the right mix of everything, you can keep everyone happy.

This is jazz/rock fusion at it's absolute finest and the jazz songs can stand with the best. This flows so nicely into the rock oriented sound when it does arrive and everything just fits together nicely. This is an album you should own, so you can see that it is possible. Even in the rock oriented music, you still get a lot of brass (check out "Call On Me", "Woman Don't Want to Love Me" and "Hanky Panky". On the other side, you even get contemporary/experimental jazz on "Devil's Sweet" and "Italian from New York", and a more accessible jazz in "Aire" and "Mongonucleosis" which even corporates a very danceable Latin flair.

By all means, this one is essential. Almost perfect in every way and completely enjoyable. 5 strong stars!

 Chicago VI by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.57 | 65 ratings

Chicago VI
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Chicago V was pretty much standard fare, but Chicago VI would even lean more towards radio friendly music and you can tell that the songs were trying really hard to be poppy already. The band was not really ready for radio because most of the songs on here sound like poor attempts to make pop music. The guitar is pushed to the background and so are the horns on this one. It is sad to have to say that the best songs on the album were the most popular ones, which is kind of odd because they also have the biggest jazz leanings (which isn't much, but at least it's there). The other songs have taken on a very mellow sound. People were starting to worry that their band had sold out for good. But after two big backward steps, Chicago was about to make a huge step forward again in their next album. For now, this one is pretty boring. I can only pull 2 stars out for this one. It's a shame after the amazing debut album Chicago Transit Authority and it's excellent follow up, Chicago II.
 Chicago V by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.30 | 81 ratings

Chicago V
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

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.
 The Chicago Transit Authority by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.06 | 187 ratings

The Chicago Transit Authority
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Jimi Hendrix once told Chicago saxophonist Walter Parazaider as they were starting out as a band called "The Big Six" that "your horn players are like one set of lungs and your guitar player is better than me." With a compliment like that, you would think your confidence would be so bit that you would release a double album for your debut release. So they did. Not only that, but they named themselves after the mass transit system in Chicago, IL also known as Chicago Transit Authority. That's the name they were known by on their first double album. And what a debut album it is.

Hard to believe that this is the same band that would churn out hit after hit almost a decade later. They would become an assembly line of pop later, but in the early years, here was a band that was influential and would make their mark in rock/jazz fusion and inspire many bands and artists to follow. This album would be a huge hit. With songs like "Beginnings", "South California Purples," "Listen", and "Free Form Guitar", Chicago would establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the music world. The playing is tight, the production is on par, the musicianship is awesome, everything is in it's right place and a regular horn section would be placed into a major superband and remain there as part of their signature sound for all time.

This album is probably a little more consistently rocking than their other albums where the band would expand into other styles, usually with believability and finesse. You get blues, rock, jazz, psychedelia all in a debut album, and it is all well done. Even though this one is great, the follow up to this album, yet another double album, would be even better. So many reviewers have already talked about the songs here, just suffice it to say that this is a debut album that is essential to prog collections because of the excellent use of rock/jazz fusion in a way that would be appealing to those who would never touch jazz music with a 50 foot pole.

After getting in trouble with the real Chicago Transit Authority, the band's name was shortened to Chicago and a logo was made with inspiration taken from the Coca-Cola trademark. Speaking of trademark, this is the first band that I can think of that had their name and logo trademarked.

Anyway, if you only know Chicago from their top 40 MOR hits, you need to listen to this. Absolutely essential. 5 stars.

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