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Chicago - Chicago [Aka: Chicago  II] CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.14 | 197 ratings

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5 stars It's good to see Chicago in the Prog-archives because they were a great band for a lot longer time before turning commercial than a lot of other bands were. This particular album was one of the first albums that I grew up on, and I loved it. I still do. But, the ironic thing is, even though this band became a radio friendly giant as time went on, this was the album that influenced me to explore music deeper. It helped coax me away from the radio and into listening to albums. This album, back in the 70s, was what influenced me to dive deeply into progressive rock, even though I didn't even realize what progressive rock was. The "Ballet for a Girl in Bucchanan" suite was such a attraction for me and also influenced me to want to listen to longer compositions, because I loved the way two hits from this Suite (Make me Smile and Colour My World) were mixed up into this much larger song. Yes this album is a huge milestone in inspiring me to not just listen to better music, but to also explore writing music. Even though I don't consider Chicago one of my favorite bands, even though I love their earlier music, I do consider it the band that introduced me to the bands that I do consider my favorites, like King Crimson, Porcupine Tree, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

So how do I go from enjoying Chicago and loving King Crimson? Well they are obviously two bands on complete opposite sides of the prog spectrum. But are they really? My favorite tracks on Chicago II are the ones that are longer, have more brass, are more experimental and have more dissonance. There are three things in common here with King Crimson and most of the bands I consider my favorites and those things are longer songs, experimentation and dissonance. The very first track on this album is "Movin' In" and there is a short instrumental break on here were the brass section just goes total free form and the music just becomes what a lot of people might consider very harsh sounding before it breaks from this dissonance and flows back into melodic without even slowing down or changing rhythm. I love that part of the song. I think "Fancy Colours" is a beautiful and very emotional song even though it's quite short and has a somewhat annoying ending, but it's still one of my favorites. Of course "25 or 6 to 4" is a classic and has that killer guitar solo. The "Memories of Love" suite is an all-time favorite even now. This is a very slow but dramatic song, somewhat minimalistic at times which several times rises to several great emotional climaxes in many part of the suite. This one is full of dissonant parts where the flutes, brass, and the other instruments clash and fight with one another yet they always seem to find a resolve. The more I listen to this track, the more I hear and the more I consider this a masterpiece of prog. Simply beautiful, and just like most prog masterpieces, you don't appreciate it for what it is on the first few listens, you must hear it several times and let it sink into your brain and your soul to really see what an amazing piece of work this composition is. "It Better End Soon" is a long suite also which showcases the bands talent and the long instrumental passages here seem to fit right in with the political message that is in the lyrics. Definately not just a Chicago classic, but a jazz/progressive classic also. The entire album is tied together and wrapped up in the short Peter Cetera song "Where Do We Go From Here" which even though it's short after such a long suite, does not at all seem out of place. It is the perfect ending for an amazing album.

I have to consider this a masterpiece of progressive rock, not just because of it's importance to me, but it also influenced many other bands that were around at that time. But no one knew how to do jazz/rock like Chicago. It's time to consider this a staple of progressive rock.

TCat | 5/5 |


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