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Chicago - Chicago VII CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.02 | 88 ratings

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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.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


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