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Chicago - Chicago VII CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.04 | 98 ratings

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5 stars Chicago strikes back with a vengeance after the decidedly lighter weight fair that was Chicago VI. Looking to strike a better balance between the the jazz and pop side of the group, they went back to the double album format. It is a full 25 minutes minutes and into 6th track before we hear the first vocals. While the group was already full of top flight musicians, they went out and expanded their horizons. They added some wonderful orchestrations, three Beach Boys and the Pointer Sisters to expand their sound palette. But that in itself, while very pleasing, doesn't seem very ground breaking.

What else is here you ask. A drum solo accompanied by flute? Check. ARP synth playing a major part on a track. Yup. They brought in a percussionist, who stayed for 8 albums, to give several tracks a Latin vibe. The horn section, which spends plenty of time front and center, deserves all the praise it receives. Same holds true for the 3 lead vocalists. What normally isn't mentioned when discussing Chicago is the keyboards, drums and guitar work of Robert Lamm, Danny Seraphine and Terry Kath respectively. Everyone here gets a chance to shine and does so convincingly. Even Peter Cetera, who is at times a lightning rod for the group for some lightweight pop fluff, plays a very fine bass that unfortunately is mixed too low.

So what is Chicago VII? It's an exceptional album by a group that did not rest on its laurels. They took the criticism launched at the previous album and used that as a challenge to make a superior piece of work that has many influences and styles on it, but kept it together as a unified whole. All seven group members had at least one writing credit. The pop hits are all well arranged and of course well sung, plus they hit an emotional note that many people can relate to . The non-hits are excellent forays into jazz, rock, Bossa Nova, fusion, folk etc that display the formidable musical muscle of a mighty group before disco, new wave and punk took it all away.

When I want to listen to popular Chicago, I pull out one of their many collections. When I want to hear what I consider their best work, I play Chicago VII.

5 stars

tdfloyd | 5/5 |


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