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CHICAGO

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Chicago biography
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 Angelas 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.

Chicago official website

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Buy CHICAGO Music


"Now" - Chicago Xxxvi
Frontiers Records (Universal) 2014
Audio CD$7.97
$7.99 (used)
The Very Best of Chicago: Only the BeginningThe Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning
Rhino 2002
Audio CD$10.68
$5.40 (used)
Chicago's Greatest HitsChicago's Greatest Hits
Rhino 2005
Audio CD$4.66
$2.99 (used)
Chicago Transit AuthorityChicago Transit Authority
Rhino 2002
Audio CD$2.78
$2.01 (used)
The Best Of Chicago 40th AnniversaryThe Best Of Chicago 40th Anniversary
Rhino Records 2007
Audio CD$8.36
$4.51 (used)
Chicago II (Repackaged)Chicago II (Repackaged)
Rhino Records 2002
Audio CD$3.81
$3.00 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
FRANK CHASE/BUTCH TH - IN CHICAGO [FRANK CHASE/BUTCH THOMPSON] - NEW CD BOXSET US $20.94 Buy It Now 31m 21s
The Real Sound Of Chicago & Beyond: Underground Disco & Boogie US $31.63 Buy It Now 37m 15s
Chicago: Music From the Motion Picture, , Good Soundtrack US $7.99 Buy It Now 38m 32s
Chicago GREATEST HITS LP Columbia FC33900 EX/EX Shrink US $7.99 Buy It Now 58m 55s
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Chicago Has Its Mark On Me (Vinyl LP) Wrong Way Jim Richards US $12.00 Buy It Now 1h 23m
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George Wetlings Chicago Bugle Call Rag 78rpm US $19.96 Buy It Now 1h 23m
CLARENCE WHEELER, THE NEW CHICAGO BLUES, LP 1973 US VG+/EX ATLANTIC SD 1336 US $13.30 Buy It Now 1h 25m
MUDDY WATERS, I FEEL SO GOOD / SWEET HOME CHICAGO, LP GERMANY EX/EX US $24.95 Buy It Now 1h 25m
Greatest Hits 1982-1989 by Chicago (CD, Nov-1989, Reprise) US $5.99 [0 bids]
1h 27m
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1h 50m
Air Supply / Chicago / Eagles / Alan Parsons / RARE OOP Israeli Israel 1988 CD US $19.49 Buy It Now 1h 50m
Chicago - Hard Habit To Break - 7" 1984 - Ex US $0.02 [0 bids]
1h 51m
7"-Single GRAHAM NASH - Chicago (1971) GERMANY PS US $9.99 Buy It Now 1h 53m
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Chicago, Tony Bennett, Excellent US $1.00 Buy It Now 2h 21m
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2h 26m
TODD RUNDGREN - Live In Chicago '91 - (1999 Japan 2-CD) - RARE US $24.99 Buy It Now 2h 26m
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CHICAGO JAPANESE USED CONCERT TICKET - 1984 US $16.65 Buy It Now 2h 34m
60s 70s Blues MEMPHIS SLIM chicago blues 1969 UK Vinyl LP US $13.30 [0 bids]
2h 37m
Vintage Record 45 Chicago : Harry Truman * Till We Meet Again US $1.25 [0 bids]
2h 40m
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Beethoven: Symphony Nos. 6 & 8 Pastoral Solti Chicago ~ CD 1988 London Decca vgc US $2.49 Buy It Now 2h 42m
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2h 49m
Peter Cetera Chicago Band - 2 solo lp (s) 12" vinyl self + Solitude VG+ pop rock US $9.89 [0 bids]
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Beethoven Brahms Verdi - Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Barenboim Play Beetho CD US $39.37 Buy It Now 2h 54m
Chicago Vinyl LP Full Moon Records 1982, 23689-1, Chicago 16 ~ Near Mint-! US $6.99 Buy It Now 2h 56m
SHADOWS OF KNIGHT "I GOT MY MOJO WORKING" KILLER 60's CHICAGO SOUND LISTEN! US $21.62 Buy It Now 2h 57m
CHICAGO "TWENTY 1", LP, 1991, RARE! US $24.99 Buy It Now 3h
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Chicago at carnegie hall vinyl record Vol. 1,2,3,4, US $50.00 [0 bids]
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SURRENDUR DOROTHI:SPIT...RARE 1994 CD - CHICAGO FEMALE METAL (PA) US $8.00 Buy It Now 3h 7m
Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 by Chicago (CD, Feb-1995, Chicago Records Dist.) US $5.00 Buy It Now 3h 10m
TAYLOR BRAND ABRASIVE SOUND STRUCTURE steve albini 1997 chicago US $69.95 [0 bids]
3h 17m
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Chicago Live At Carnegie Hall Vols I & II 2LP in inner sleeves no cover VG+ orig US $2.99 Buy It Now 3h 21m
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3h 26m
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Chicago - Saturday In The Park / Dialogue / 7" 45 - VG US $3.00 [0 bids]
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3h 27m
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BARRY GOLDBERG HARVEY MANDEL CHRLIE MUSSELWHITE-CHICAGO A~-JAPAN MINI LP CD Fi83 US $35.50 Buy It Now 3h 28m
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CLARENCE WHEELER THE NEW CHICAGO BLUES BUDDY GUY JUNIOR WELLS EX LP IN SHRINK US $13.50 [0 bids]
3h 33m
STERIO/ULTRA-RARE PRIVATE PRESS/PRECIOUS LOVE/MOONLIGHT 12" CHICAGO REGGAE DUB US $19.99 [0 bids]
3h 37m
CHICAGO X AND CHICAGO HOT STREETS - 2 LPS AND 2 BOOKLETS ~ great condition US $37.70 [0 bids]
3h 37m
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Chicago 45 Old Days / Hideaway 1975 Columbia 3-10131 Vinyl Record US $2.84 Buy It Now 3h 39m
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DAVID SANBORN 45 RPM 7" VINYL RECORD ** PROMOTION COPY ** CHICAGO SONG ** US $1.99 [0 bids]
3h 44m
** MUDDY WATERS I CANT BE SATISFIED HUGE CHICAGO BLUES CLASSIC!!! US $12.88 Buy It Now 3h 44m
REINER,Chicago Sym/FESTIVAL/RCA LSC-2423 SHADED DOG 1S,1S Stereo LP/EX!! US $9.07 [5 bids]
3h 44m
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MARY LOU WILLIAMS - Columbia 37334 - Little Joe from Chicago - BOOGIE WOOGIE 78 US $15.00 Buy It Now 3h 48m
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CHICAGO Hard To Say I'm Sorry Japan 3'' CD Peter Cetera US $19.99 Buy It Now 3h 54m
SMITH, JOHN STAFFORD - HISTORIC ORGANS OF CHICAGO - NEW CD BOXSET US $39.57 Buy It Now 3h 56m
Chicago Broadway cast recording CD Joel Grey Bebe Neuwirth Ann Reinking US $0.99 [3 bids]
4h
Chicago Cab by Original Soundtrack (CD, Aug-1998, Loosegroove) US $4.99 Buy It Now 4h
SEALED Chicago Blues Allstars LOADED WITH THE BLUES BASF MPS Stereo US $25.50 Buy It Now 4h 8m
Christmas With Chicago Chamber Brass - Ellyn Child Chr Glen New US $21.88 Buy It Now 4h 17m
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PIERN,, GABRIEL - KALEVI KIVINIEMI: CHICAGO CONCERT - NEW CD US $13.06 Buy It Now 4h 21m
Hampton Hawes - Live At The Jazz Showcase In Chicago Vol. 1 (Enja) Lp US $24.50 Buy It Now 4h 25m
MEYERBEER, GIACOMO - OPERA IN CHICAGO, VOL.2 - NEW CD US $15.89 Buy It Now 4h 30m
10" 33 King Oliver And His Jazz Band (Chicago 1923) "King Joe" COLUMBIA 33S 1065 US $16.63 Buy It Now 4h 30m
1962 -1968 Reflections Chicago Roy Airs Drum Corps CD US $17.95 Buy It Now 4h 31m
CHICAGO - TWENTY 1 (CD, 1991, REPRISE RECORDS) 12 TRACKS US $1.75 [0 bids]
4h 34m
Chicago 17 by Chicago (CD, Apr-1984, Full Moon/Asylum) US $3.00 [0 bids]
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4h 34m
ANDREW IMBRIE - ANDREW IMBRIE: SPRING FEVER; CHICAGO BELLS; SONGS FOR - NEW CD US $15.03 Buy It Now 4h 36m
CHICAGO III LP US $14.99 Buy It Now 4h 36m
Various(Vinyl LP)Jazz Classics Volume Two: Chicago-BBC-REB 589-UK-Ex-/Ex+ US $21.99 Buy It Now 4h 38m
CHICAGO - CHICAGO VIII - PC33100 US $7.97 Buy It Now 4h 44m
FRANK TRIBES-By All Means-GARDEN BOWER-Chicago IL.pop US $8.49 Buy It Now 4h 48m
NOS THE EBS ALLSTAR BLUES BAND....SWEET HOME CHICAGO US $10.00 Buy It Now 4h 50m
HUBERT LAWS "Chicago Theme" Jazz vinyl LP EX 1975 US $3.99 [0 bids]
US $5.49 Buy It Now
4h 53m
Jazz Greats - Chicago Jazz City - CD Album US $11.64 Buy It Now 4h 57m
Chicago vs Peter Cetera Japan Promo only Vinyl LP in 1986 US $69.99 Buy It Now 4h 58m
Chicago Single 45 rpm vinyl record Columbia Label in a polypropylene bag!! US $1.99 [0 bids]
4h 59m
Chicago - XI 12" vinyl Record US $0.99 [1 bids]
5h 5m
Chicago -V 12" vinyl Record US $0.99 [0 bids]
5h 5m

More places to buy CHICAGO music online Buy CHICAGO & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
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CHICAGO shows & tickets


  • Chicago + REO Speedwagon at Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, Raleigh on 23 Aug 2014

CHICAGO discography


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

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

3.95 | 122 ratings
The Chicago Transit Authority
1969
4.09 | 104 ratings
Chicago (aka Chicago II)
1970
3.63 | 58 ratings
Chicago III
1971
3.24 | 52 ratings
Chicago V
1972
2.51 | 41 ratings
Chicago VI
1973
3.90 | 54 ratings
Chicago VII
1974
2.72 | 34 ratings
Chicago VIII
1975
2.84 | 39 ratings
Chicago X
1976
2.90 | 36 ratings
Chicago XI
1977
2.06 | 28 ratings
Hot Streets
1978
1.73 | 25 ratings
Chicago 13
1979
1.73 | 20 ratings
Chicago XIV
1980
2.46 | 23 ratings
Chicago 16
1982
2.55 | 27 ratings
Chicago 17
1984
2.63 | 21 ratings
Chicago 18
1986
2.51 | 15 ratings
Chicago 19
1988
1.43 | 18 ratings
Twenty 1
1991
3.88 | 13 ratings
Night and Day: Big-Band
1995
2.85 | 7 ratings
Chicago 25 - The Christmas Album / What's It Gonna Be Santa
1998
2.33 | 14 ratings
Chicago XXX
2006
3.63 | 29 ratings
Stone of Sisyphus (XXXII)
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
Chicago XXXIII: O Christmas Three
2010
0.00 | 0 ratings
Chicago XXXV: The Nashville Sessions
2013
2.33 | 3 ratings
Chicago XXXVI: Now
2014

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

4.01 | 29 ratings
Chicago at Carnegie Hall
1971
4.05 | 16 ratings
Live in Japan
1972
3.04 | 5 ratings
Beginnings (In Concert)
1978
4.00 | 8 ratings
Chicago XXVI - The Live Album
1999
3.00 | 2 ratings
Chicago XXXIV: Live in '75
2011

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

4.04 | 4 ratings
Sound Stage, Live
2004
4.00 | 2 ratings
Chicago
2005

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

3.51 | 20 ratings
Chicago IX - Greatest Hits
1975
2.17 | 5 ratings
Greatest Hits, Vol. 2
1981
3.00 | 1 ratings
Love Songs
1982
1.21 | 5 ratings
Greatest Hits 1982-1989
1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Heart Of Chicago
1989
3.00 | 6 ratings
The Heart Of Chicago 1967-1997
1997
3.00 | 2 ratings
Chicago
1997
2.50 | 2 ratings
The Heart Of Chicago 1967-1998 Volume II
1998
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Chicago Story: Complete Greatest Hits
2002
3.16 | 6 ratings
The Very Best Of: Only The Beginning
2002
4.50 | 2 ratings
The Box
2003
2.86 | 5 ratings
Love Songs (2005)
2005
4.33 | 3 ratings
The Best Of Chicago
2007
3.33 | 3 ratings
Collector's Edition
2009

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

4.67 | 3 ratings
I'm A Man
1969
4.75 | 4 ratings
25 or 6 to 4 / Where Do We Go From Here
1970
4.25 | 4 ratings
Make Me Smile / Colour My World
1970
3.00 | 2 ratings
Lowdown / Loneliness Is Just A Word
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
‎? ロウダウン (Lowdown) / 欲しいのは君だけ (I Don't Want Your Money)
1971
3.50 | 4 ratings
Feelin' Stronger Every Day
1973
3.50 | 2 ratings
Just You 'N' Me / Critic's Choice
1973
3.00 | 2 ratings
Call On Me
1974
3.67 | 3 ratings
Wishing You Were Here
1974
1.18 | 6 ratings
If You Leave Me Now
1976
2.00 | 3 ratings
Baby, What A Big Surprise / If You Leave Me Now
1977
1.00 | 1 ratings
Baby, What A Big Surprise / Takin' It On Uptown
1977
1.00 | 3 ratings
No Tell Lover / Take A Chance
1979
2.00 | 1 ratings
Street Player
1979

CHICAGO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Live in Japan by CHICAGO album cover Live, 1972
4.05 | 16 ratings

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Live in Japan
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Well, here I go again, ranting about my distaste of live albums. "Distaste" might be a bit harsh, really. Let's just say I do not think that they are essential part of my collection. Let's just leave it at that. I would like to add, though, that some live albums really are wonderful. This one is, for sure.

Chicago is a band i grew up with. My father loved them and played their albums on occasion. When I say "their albums" I mean some of the later stuff, when the music grew a bit more sophisticated and pop oriented, although with a strong jazz-rock feel to it. I, for one, have always hailed their second album as their greatest achievement. I would even call that album the greatest jazz-rock album of all time. It is that good. Apart from that, Chicago was between 1969-1972 a real force to be reckoned with, playing adventurous and hard jazz-rock wth a real gritty and raw edge. They were phenomenal.

This live album really sounds like they did in the studio, albeit a bit more free flowing and loose. It is impossible to reproduce every single aspect of a studio recording, so here they play the songs with all the talent possible in a live setting, which in parts boils the material down to their bare necessities. It is really hard rocking stuff, capable of destroying a small country. The musicianship is extremely tight and I cannot be anything but amazed at the marvelous performance.

Favorite tracks are "State of the union", "Dialogue Pt. 1 & 2" and "25 or 6 to 4". These are amazing renditions. The remainder of the album is impressive as well. Too bad this album seems to be an anonymous one. It deserves to be listened to, no matter your feelings towards live albums.

No live album is essential in my book, except for Rick Wakeman's "Journey to the centre of the Earth" which really is more than a live album. This one, however, lifts my spirits and is a great testimony to one of the greatest jazz rock bands of all time and that band's most progressive and impressive period. Top stuff.

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 The Very Best Of: Only The Beginning by CHICAGO album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2002
3.16 | 6 ratings

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The Very Best Of: Only The Beginning
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars A rarity - a "best of" worth owning

Generally I agree with Sheavy that "best of" compilations for progressive rock bands are a joke. They are neither satisfying nor able to represent bands with long discogs of lengthy songs. This could also be the case for Chicago for many fans but not this one. I was a never a fan of Chicago's albums or their more serious work that got them on this site. As a young kid in the 70s Chicago for me were a "hits" band. They were on pop radio and album rock radio constantly and thus their singles became part of the soundtrack of my youth. And they wrote such excellent, memorable pop music. Some people find their singles cheesy but I really don't. I think they had a unique sound and were always high quality. As such I'd been looking for some time for a good collection of their popular songs. This is the best one I've found. Without getting into box sets and big dollars, "Only the Beginning" manages to collect all of the songs I wanted to have on two discs.

Disc one covers the early 70s and features all of their best known songs from the first album through one my favorite obscurities "If you leave me now", which brings me right back to being a little kid with my transistor radio. Disc two begins with two more of my favorite gems "Old Days" and "Baby what a big surprise", which again, are period markers for someone my age. Disc two soon takes a sharp turn into their hugely successful 80s era when the band hit their second boom in popularity. All of those MTV era hits are there such as "Stay the Night", "Hard habit to break", and "Along comes a woman." I stopped paying attention by this point and so the late 80s tracks that finish disc two mean little to me. But for the first disc and one-half of the second, this collection fit the bill perfectly. If you are a "hits" type fan of Chicago as I am, take a look at the track list and see if this doesn't cover it nicely for you. If you're a fan of their longer jams and full albums then obviously you have no need for this.

Comes with a nice and informative booklet, with bio and detailed credits.

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 Chicago (aka Chicago  II) by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.09 | 104 ratings

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Chicago (aka Chicago II)
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Though best known for their slick jazz infused pop/rock later into their career, the first three albums (in particular) shows off a band hell bent on progressing music, beyond the realms and boundaries of common perception. The fusion of jazz and rock may not have been invented by Chicago but they did take it way past most of their contemporaries on this, their second album, fuzing brass rock, jazz rock or whatever you want to call it and adding not so small a dose of progressive elements. All that combined produced an album of extreme value and importance. I have called it THE jazz rock album of all time and I think i am in my right to do so. Simply because I am right.

I will not go into the album track by track but I will say this, the music on this album fuses together as with any great progressive album. This makes the experience somewhat otherworldly. It is like listening to an opera or any classical piece, whether it is made by Mozart or the prog greats. It is an amazing accomplishment.

The music in itself is a mix of jazz, rock, classical, brass, hard rock, prog and then some. Chicago produced an album of hard hitting, precise though not sterile, vibrant, progressive music which possibly left them gasping for air afterwards. They never sounded like this again. Never would the mighty Chicago produce anything as grand as this again. Every track oozes progressive jazz rock and the songs are in themselves gems. Combined the album is a crown worthy of royalty, littered with glistening jewels.

If you are searching for a progressive jazz rock album, look no further. This is all you need. Amazingly enough, considering their coming history. Chicago II is without a doubt worth every single star I give them.

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 Chicago VII by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.90 | 54 ratings

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Chicago VII
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If you've followed the history of the band Chicago, very few would argue that their more ''accepted'' albums came in their earlier career when they were a rock band with heavy influence from jazz, particularly their first two records. As the years drudged on, Chicago began drifting into safer writing territories, poppier songs that aimed to hit the Billboard and condensed albums. That last stat is saying something from the only rock band in history to have their first three studio albums doubles.

Then CHICAGO VII comes along and something funny happens; not only does the first half indulge in jazz, but the jazz is more fusion than they have ever done. And it's mostly instrumental to boot it all. ''Aire'' adds to the plethora of memorable horn quotes from Chicago's catalogue, but the progsters would rejoice in the fact that the majority of the number is in 7/8 time. ''Italian From New York'' (written about guest Laudir de Oliviera who would later officially join the band) channels what Herbie Hancock was doing with bleeping synths and made a simple jazz track out of it. And the jazz aficionados can eat their hearts out to the Coltrane-influenced ''Devil's Sweet''.

The second chunk of the album (all of the second LP and some bits of the first) falls into safer, chart-happy avenues that Chicago had been reaching for since V. Either the weight of the jazz tracks makes me hate these pop-rock tracks even less, or it might be that there are actually some great pop songs here that rival the first two albums. ''Wishing You Were Here'' is not one of those pleasant surprises; that balmy, Caribbean overtone makes me sick, and the guesting of the Wilson brothers from the Beach Boys isn't helping. Somehow, Terry Kath took that same style of music in ''Byblos'' and made THAT track a little better; maybe it's just Terry Kath, I don't know.

There's still a lot of worth here. Pankow's ''(I've Been) Searching For So Long'' sounds on the surface like the lamest slow dance number since ''Colour My World''. I don't know what gravitates me towards this song, but I actually can enjoy this. It helps that it segues straight into a Santana inspired instrumental ''Monognucleosis''. ''Women Don't Want To Love Me'' has a great funk groove to keep the listener off their chairs.

The real winner of this record is trumpeter Lee Loughnane. Up until now, he's never had a songwriting credit for Chicago, and his ''Call On Me'' was a pretty interesting top 20 single. He even sings on the best poppier song, ''Song of the Evergreens''. It's Kath's writing again, so that explain why it's good, but that cascading to a climax effect (the band singing ''snow'' a bunch of times) usually works magnanimously.

This is really the forgotten great Chicago album, and I would rank this second overall in great Chicago albums only trailing the debut. Yes, there are a few schmaltzy pop tracks (thank you Cetera) that sort of create a buzzkill, but there are many other great pop tracks that more than balance them out. Furthermore, the opening romp of jazz pieces is essential listening for any jazz fan, and even prog fans might want to try to stick their nose in this one.

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 Chicago VI by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.51 | 41 ratings

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Chicago VI
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The first nine Chicago albums all have their moments, some more than others. Whilst the first two, 1969's debut 'Chicago Transit Authority' and follow-up 'Chicago II', arguably showcase the group at both their most dynamic and experimental, latter albums would feature a different approach, with such seminal pop nuggets as 'If You Leave Me Now', as found on 'Chicago X', and this album's stirring ballad 'Feelin' Stronger Every Day' adding yet another dimension to Chicago's sound. 'Chicago VI' would be the outfit's second single-album after 'Chicago V', and, as illustrated, mark another step away from the 1960's influenced sound of their earlier material. Commercially, Chicago would now go through the roof, becoming one of the most popular American rock acts of the century, attracting a huge new fanbase uninterested in guitar solos and experimental jazz suites and slowly homogenising their sound as the 1980's approached. Whatever your feelings on their gradual change, there is no denying that despite the steady and impressive tide of slick hit singles being produced, their albums were now much less impressive for those fans who enjoyed the groups more esoteric early material. 'Chicago VI' is undoubtedly the weakest of their first seven albums - follow-up 'Chicago VI' would see a brief return to the style of their debut dusted with an even stronger jazz influence than usual - making for an uncharacteristically dull listen. The rather beautiful strains of 'Feelin Stronger Every Day' apart, this is an album with little that is new, and little that is exciting. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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 Chicago V by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.24 | 52 ratings

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Chicago V
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

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

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 Chicago III by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.63 | 58 ratings

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Chicago III
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

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

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 Chicago (aka Chicago  II) by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.09 | 104 ratings

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Chicago (aka Chicago II)
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Considered by many to be the absolute highlight of Chicago's career, 'Chicago II' was, like its predecessor, a lengthy double-sided release that again mixed elements of jazz, pop, rock 'n' roll and psychedelia to impressive effect. Although the double-album format has, of course, seen mixed results over the years - some albums proved overblown and indulgent; others featured a dearth of quality material filling up the gaps - Chicago's were anything but, always a group with more than enough quality material to make the concept work. Both their 1969 debut 'Chicago Transit Authority' and this follow-up feature well over an hour of material with rarely a dull moment to be had, both albums showcasing Chicago at their most experimental. 'Chicago II' may well start in fairly mainstream territory with the upbeat 'Movin' In', yet the album is most notable for the three multi-part song suites - James Pankow's eight-minute 'Ballet For A Girl In Buchanon', the rather beautiful 'Memories Of Love' by Terry Kath and non-member Peter Matz and the strange, neo-classical strains of 'It Better End Soon' courtesy of Robert Lamm and Walter Parazaider - that take up almost half the running time. More interesting, however, is the addition of '25 On 6 To 4', a charging jazz-rock anthem that quickly became a fan favourite. Quoted by some as being 'deliberately mysterious', '25 On 6 To 4'describes in hazy fashion the effects of what seems to be a particularly memorable LSD trip, though the actual meaning of the lyrics has been the subject of great debate over the years. Whatever the view, '25 On 6 To 4' is an armour-plated Chicago classic and one of the group's rockiest songs, the placing of the song alongside the elegiac and delicate 'Memories Of Love' showcasing just what an eclectic album 'Chicago II' is. Whether it's a superior album to its predecessor is actually a moot point; both albums represent the very best of early Chicago. A technically-assured, complex and delightfully experimental blend of styles, this is progressive music in the truest sense of the word. A fantastic group, Chicago really were one of the finest of all American rock 'n' roll groups, this album a prime example. STEFAN TURNER, ANGEL, 2012

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 The Chicago Transit Authority by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.95 | 122 ratings

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The Chicago Transit Authority
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

5 stars So, this is where it all began. Issued under the unwieldy 'Chicago Transit Authority' moniker, Chicago's original release proved to be one of the first rock 'n' roll double-album debuts, marking a brave leap of faith both for the group and their label. It would, however, be a gamble that soon paid off. Although today the group are mainly known for issuing string of hit singles that includes such radio staples as 'If You Leave Me Now' and 'Feelin' Stronger Every Day', Chicago actually started out as a very different beast. Blending elements of jazz, blues and psychedelia and featuring a powerful brass section, the original seven-strong outfit's 1969 debut is in fact a surprisingly experimental album that covers a whole spectrum of sound and styles, an album that is as much a product of the 1960's as the likes of either Jefferson Airplane or Frank Zappa. Later albums would find Chicago softening their sound as their success grew, entering the realms of MOR pop as the decade neared its conclusion, yet during their initial burst of activity this was a group who constantly pushed and probed the musical envelope, creating music that was both accessible yet highly progressive. Both 'Chicago Transit Authority' and follow-up 'Chicago II' would be double-albums, showcasing the group's phenomenal song-writing and compositional abilities, whilst a trip to Carnegie Hall would see Chicago become one of the very first rock groups to take the stage at the hallowed venue, the results subsequently issued on the impressive quadruple live album 'Chicago At Carnegie Hall'. In the first five years of activity Chicago managed to produce an enormous volume of work, though of all their early albums it is their debut which finds them at their most inquisitive, 'Chicago Transit Authority' hosting an exuberant journey through four sides of what can be best described as electric brass-rock. The album features such group classics as the ballroom-spiced jazz-rock number 'Introduction', the joyous jazz-pop single 'Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is' and the lysergic psych-rock of both 'Freeform Guitar' and 'Southern California Purples', yet also finds time for jazzy instrumental numbers('Prologue'), fast-paced acid rock('Poem 58') and epic prog fusion workouts('Liberation'). A genuine melting-pot of ideas and styles, 'Chicago Transit Authority' ranks as Chicago's most individual release, laying the foundations of a fabulously-successful career. Whilst the 1980's would find a very different sounding Chicago in operation, virtually all the group's 1970's albums are worth exploring. However, this is Chicago at the rawest and toughest, blending the swagger of Led Zeppelin with the refined fusion pallette of Miles Davis and the funk-strut of Isaac Hayes. Its a fine album, a genuine classic and an example of just how good Chicago were in their heyday. STEFAN TURNER, ANGEL, 2012

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 Chicago VII by CHICAGO album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.90 | 54 ratings

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Chicago VII
Chicago Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Well first off a big thankyou to Tom Ozric (who has introduced me to many bands and albums over the years) for insisting I get this one. To be honest I was content with CHICAGO's debut and their Live In Japan double album. I had felt "Chicago II" was just too inconsistant to give 4 stars to so why go on with their other studio albums which are rated far lower than it ? That's where Tom came in and after his sales pitch (haha) I bit and i'm glad I did.

I'm also glad Chicpah compared this to what happened with SANTANA because for me it's an interesting comparison. SANTANA like CHICAGO went into the studio to make a Jazz / Rock record and in both cases not everyone in the band was okay with the change. Why would you be when you were so successful up to that point. Well Carlos went ahead with it and to everyone in the band's credit they made in my opinion their best album. THEN those not in favour left. For me that was impressive. With CHICAGO if you read the liner notes Lamm states that part way through the recording sessions they just felt that if they made an all-Jazz album too many people would be alienated. I'm sure he mean't band members as well as fans there. As he mentions band members started to bring to the table songs with lyrics and more Pop flavoured material. So a compromise was made and we get a mixture of Jazz/Rock and poppier tunes.

The first three tracks are a tribute to Cannonball Adderley and his brother Nat. "Prelude To Aire" opens with percussion as flute joins in. Man I can't help but think of SANTANA here. Then the shock...mellotron ! I had to go on Planet Mellotron to confirm this and yes that is mellotron on a CHICAGO record. It will show up also on the song "Byblos". This is in part why I love this double album, it's different than your typical CHICAGO record as they seem to try different things. "Aire" is more of that percussion but with horns this time and flute along with prominant bass. A change before 2 1/2 minutes as guitar and drums take over. Horns are back later. "Devil's Sweet" has sounds coming and going along with relaxed horns. Drums and atmosphere after 3 minutes then it turns heavy with electric piano before 4 minutes. Guitar after 5 minutes and it becomes intense before 7 minutes followed by a calm then a drum solo.

"Italian From Newyork" has some weird electronics and percussion as it slowly builds. Check out the guitar after 2 minutes ! It continues to the end. "Hanky Panky" is a jazzy little number while "Life Saver" is funky to start before becoming catchy with vocals as our Jazz / Rock experiment ends. "Happyman" is led by acoustic guitar and a beat as the vocals arrive just before a minute. It turns fuller but contrasts will continue.

"(I've Been) Searchin' So Long" is a top four. Sure it's ballad- like but i've always liked it. Atmosphere, strings and vocals lead early. Love when it picks up 3 minutes in. The vocals and guitar really impress. "Mononucleosis" is catchy with intricate sounds. Horns too as vocals follow. Too much fun. "Song Of The Evergreens" is another top four. This sounds so good when it picks up after 2 minutes. Nice guitar solo too to end it. "Byblos" has percussion and intricate guitar. Vocals come in and this song is somewhat moving for some reason. Oh yeah I forgot it has mellotron (silly me). Backing vocals too but somehow this works.

"Wishing You Were Here" is a top four too. Love this song and always have. It's so different from how they usually sound and we also get three BEACH BOYS adding backing vocals in Al Jardine, Dennis Wilson and Carl Wilson. "Call On Me" is my final top four. This charted the highest of all the singles released from this recording. This is catchy with horns and vocals. Such a feel good tune. "Woman Don't Want To Love Me" is interesting with that funky groove with vocals and horns. The only song that really does little for me is the closer "Skinny Boy" which sounds like a Mo-Town Song. Funny but as i sat down to write this review the info on the site here says the Pointer Singers sing backup. Not surprised.

So yes a pleasant surprise and one I will enjoy for it's good songs and variety.

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