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Chicago - Chicago III CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.62 | 102 ratings

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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
stefro | 4/5 |


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