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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

Also known as Chicago 4, this is not a double studio album, but 'would you believe it) a quadruple live album that came in, a luxurious boxset including a superb booklet and a few poster, including a 3-D plan of the Carnegie venue. This awesome package (not that expensive either back then) was simply unsurpassed during the 70's, the only downside being the overly-simple bland artwork.

It is a little dismaying to see that most of the first two discs is entirely keyboardist Lamm's composition, and if in the last two discs, the selection is slightly more even, the lion's share is still Lamm's. All three studio albums prior to this Live release are well equally-well represented and we're getting almost systematically the best tracks of each, something rather rare, even back then. Naturally you have to wait until the last of the eight flipsides to reach the two exhilarating numbers of 25 or 6 to 4 or the cover of Spencer Davis Group's classic I'm A Man. A very fitting résumé of what happened over their three studio albums; this might the only thing you need from Chicago if you're only a casual fan. Although Chicago future output will lessen in terms of sheer mass/release, the quality will also be slightly affected as 5, 6, 7; and 8 will all have their moments, but will gradually dilute their musical propos amidst a sea of AOR.

This album has been released in Mini Lp form and can also serve as an excellent intro to the band's oeuvre.

Report this review (#259430)
Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fantastic live record

The first record that I had on this live album was in cassettes in the forms of 2 x C60 and I was really amazed with the ambience and performance by Chicago - it's so wonderful. It's because of so may solo sections throughout the record. This is their first live album that was initially released as a four LP vinyl box set on Columbia Records. While touring in support of Chicago III, Chicago booked themselves into the Carnegie Hall for a week in April 1971 and recorded all of their shows. Deciding that most of the songs performed there (virtually, the first three double albums, together with the new "A Song For Richard And His Friends") were worthy of release, producer James William Guercio compiled a mammoth four-LP box set collection for release as Chicago's fourth album (that distinction being responsible for the album's nickname of Chicago IV).

My version is now a double CD album. Actually, what makes me like this album mostly on the band's brave decision to record the whole concert so that listening to this album is for me like watching them live. The flow of the concert is really excellent and it creates another great experience when I play the CD. "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" is broken down nicely into two parts with excellent performance each, featuring Robert Lamm. Another favorite of mine "Questions 67 and 68" is also performed nicely. That's just an example. The rest is a demonstration on how excellent the band is.

Overall, it's really highly recommended album that you should have. Keep on proggin' ...!!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#283523)
Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Eight sides live

The numbering of the early Chicago albums can be a little confusing. The eponymous début album bears the title "Chicago Transit Authority", the band name being shortened after its release. The second album was originally simply called "Chicago", but subsequently became known as "Chicago II". The third album settles things down with the moniker "III", but look for a studio album numbered "IV" and you will not find one. Chicago have always numbered their albums sequentially, regardless of whether they are studio recordings, live albums or compilations. Thus this album, "Chicago IV", is the band's first live release.

If Chicago had seemed a tad ambitious releasing three double LPs for their first three albums, this was nothing compared to the massive four LP box set which captured their week long residency at Carnegie hall, New York, USA. At the time Carnegie Hall was not known for rock concerts, so for a relatively new band to book the place for an entire week was astonishing. By all accounts, the concerts were a great success, although the band have since bemoaned the poor acoustics, James Pankow suggesting the horn section sounded like they were "playing kazoos". Add to that the compression necessary to shoehorn well over 20 minutes of music onto an LP side, and we have a recipe for disappointment in the sound quality department. This has to some extent been addressed during the digital age, the album being remastered for CD in 2005.

In terms of content, the band played substantial amounts of each of their first three albums during their residency, with one new song Robert Lamm's "A Song For Richard And His Friends", being added.

The 4 LP set was released in a lavish box with posters etc.. While it sold well in the USA, being officially recognised as the best selling box set by a rock act for some 15 years, it languished on the shelves in the UK.

In some ways, this monster reminds me of ELP's bloated 3LP set "Welcome back my friends..". There is definitely a superb single, or at most double LP within the sleeves, but there is simply too much indulgence and meandering here to make this an essential acquisition. Take for example the elongated piano intro to "Does anybody really know what time it is", which ironically is rather Emerson like. While artistically adequate, it does nothing to enhance this great song.

In summary, a good way to gather together some of the best of the early material played live, but for me an enjoyable but not essential package.

Report this review (#409831)
Posted Tuesday, March 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Live albums often find groups at the top of their game - just think 'Lotus', Santana's spellbinding three-disc live offering or Deep Purple's epic double-sided 'Made In Japan' - and this mammoth four-disc spectacular from Chicago is no exception. When initially released during 1971 this spellbinding compilation came housed in a suitably lavish package which included a box, posters and a colour booklet. Now, almost four-decades later the equally lavish Rhino reissue happily follows suit, everything now CD-sized and not only sounding crisper and cleaner but also with an entire additional disc of material that didn't make the original cut. Bigger and better and brighter, this definitive concert release features an extra dimension making it even more impressive than it's original form, showcasing one of the top American rock group's playing at their heady peak. Summing up the individual tracks seems a moot point; this is essentially a greatest hits package of the groups first three albums played live at the Carnegie Hall, a place noted in the informative booklet that before this seminal set of gigs was strictly a classical or jazz venue that wasn't too keen on raucous rook groups filling it up. Luckily, however, Chicago were given the chance and the results are simply fantastic. Although expensive(British version: Ł44.99) this is an absolute must for both Chicago die-hards and those who dig a bit of classic rock in it's purest environment. Some say the shorter live offering 'Chicago In Japan' is better; they're wrong. Simply put, this is one of the top live albums of all time.


Report this review (#654416)
Posted Sunday, March 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Chicago's first live album, Chicago At Carnegie Hall, from 1971 seems to have developed quite the reputation among fans of the group. With many people lambasting it as an overblown, being nearly three hours in duration, and having subpar sound quality. However, after recently picking up this box-set from a local vendor, I would have to disagree with these claims. The sound quality is far from poor, sure it isn't perfect but it is highly listenable even on the original vinyl release and it has also been improved on recent CD reissues.

As for the duration, it can be quite the endurance test for those not truly prepared to sit down for a whole four LP set, it does provide quite an immersive experience as it contains not only the songs the listener is already familiar with but tune-ups and even some crowd interactions as well. Of course, some people might find these sorts of things to be a tad on the excessive side, it does help to give you that full live show experience.

As for the set list on this album, it's about par the course for early 70s Chicago. You'll only find material from the groups first three albums here, with most of them being pulled from the groups first two albums. Most of the songs are faithful to their studio counterparts with some minor variation, but you'll also find a bit of improvisation and soloing here and there.

Overall it's an album that I feel gets a lot more hate than it really deserves, sure it's not quite as good as it could be, but that's not really the point here. Expecting perfection from a live album is always a silly prospect, as if that's what you want then just stick with the studio albums. While for those of you interested in an immersive and exensive live document you'll be certain to get what you're looking for here.

Report this review (#2055870)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2018 | Review Permalink

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