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




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.14 | 197 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Needs more colours

Hot off the heels of their debut double smash, Chicago decides to try and duplicate what they had going by thrusting another double album onto the public, yet shortening the track lengths. That doesn't mean they gave up on doing long songs; three suites appear albeit broken into four to seven pieces. The blistering mad jazz-rock on their debut is more open to pop on CHICAGO (II), but that isn't necessarily why this album is weaker than CTA.

The first four tracks generally go like this: I listen, I get bored, I remember nothing. ''Movin' In'' is particularly terrible as an intro with the backup singing being bland, and the piece just sounding dull. Compare that to the maelstrom of fire that was ''Introduction'' in the debut; ''Movin' In'' sounds like a joke. I will admit that parts of ''Poem for the People'' and ''In the Country'' peer out, but nothing close to standout tracks ''25 or 6 to 4'' and the sprightly proggy ''Fancy Colours''.

But it is the suites that really hold the interest of the listener. The ''Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon'' marks the first of them, although it sounds like seven slightly different parts. ''Make Me Smile'' kicks off the ''ballet'' with a punch coming straight from the debut album with the brass presence being the haymaker to your ears. ''West Virginia Fantasies'' is an oft forgotten little number that carries intensity throughout its minute in length. The pieces ends where it began with ''Now More Than Ever'', never losing momentum except for the prom dance number ''Colour My World''.

The next interesting suite is the ''Memories of Love'' thing; it's intersting because it's Chicago with an orchestra, or more like an orchestra piece on a Chicago album. Chicago caught a Moody cold it seems like, although the orchestra use here isn't quite up to the level the Moodies had. But what follows is surely the best point on the album, the great powerful jam session in ''It Better End Soon''. This is what Chicago is all about; sporadic jamming with the interjectory solo once in a while (Paradizer plays a mean flute). Kath's underrated singing ability is fully displayed here; listen to the third part an try not to be moved by vocals.

Chicago shook and distilled pop into their highly buoyant jazz flavoured rock, but the songwriting seems to have slackened. Take out the first side, the classical piece and the last number (a Cetera schlock-fest) and I wouldn't hesitate in the slightest to see a masterpiece in this. Instead, I find myself in a minority in saying that CHICAGO (II) is weaker than CTA; then again, CTA is a gargantuan monster in jazz-rock.

Sinusoid | 3/5 |


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