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Chicago - Chicago Transit Authority (Columbia GP 8) (1969)

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Chicago Transit Authority

Released: 1969
Label: Columbia
Catalog: GP 8
Genre: Rock
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Introduction
02 Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
03 Beginnings
04 Questions 67 And 68
05 Listen
06 Poem 58
07 Free Form Guitar
08 South California Purples
09 I'm A Man
10 Prologue, August 29, 1968
11 Someday (August 29, 1968)
12 Liberation
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Album Review

by Lindsay Planer [allmusic.com]

Few debut albums can boast as consistently solid an effort as the self-titled Chicago Transit Authority (1969). Even fewer can claim to have enough material to fill out a double-disc affair. Although this long- player was ultimately the septet's first national exposure, the group was far from the proverbial "overnight sensation." Under the guise of the Big Thing, the group soon to be known as CTA had been honing its eclectic blend of jazz, classical, and straight-ahead rock & roll in and around the Windy City for several years. Their initial non-musical meeting occurred during a mid-February 1967 confab between the original combo at Walter Parazaider's apartment on the north side of Chi Town. Over a year later, Columbia Records staff producer James Guercio became a key supporter of the group, which he rechristened Chicago Transit Authority. In fairly short order the band relocated to the West Coast and began woodshedding the material that would comprise this title. In April of 1969, the dozen sides of Chicago Transit Authority unleashed a formidable and ultimately American musical experience. This included an unheralded synthesis of electric guitar wailin' rock & roll to more deeply rooted jazz influences and arrangements. This approach economized the finest of what the band had to offer -- actually two highly stylized units that coexisted with remarkable singularity. On the one hand, listeners were presented with an incendiary rock & roll quartet of Terry Kath (lead guitar/vocals), Robert Lamm (keyboards/vocals), Peter Cetera (bass/vocals), and Danny Seraphine (drums). They were augmented by the equally aggressive power brass trio that included Lee Loughnane (trumpet/vocals), James Pankow (trombone), and the aforementioned Parazaider (woodwind/vocals). This fusion of rock with jazz would also yield some memorable pop sides and enthusiasts' favorites as well. Most notably, a quarter of the material on the double album -- "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?," "Beginnings," "Questions 67 and 68," and the only cover on the project, Steve Winwood's "I'm a Man" -- also scored as respective entries on the singles chart. The tight, infectious, and decidedly pop arrangements contrast with the piledriving blues-based rock of "Introduction" and "South California Purples" as well as the 15-plus minute extemporaneous free for all "Liberation." Even farther left of center are the experimental avant-garde "Free Form Guitar" and the politically intoned and emotive "Prologue, August 29, 1968" and "Someday (August 29, 1968)." The 2003 remastered edition of Chicago Transit Authority offers a marked sonic improvement over all previous pressings -- including the pricey gold disc incarnation.


Chicago - Chicago II [Columbia PG 24] (1970)

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Chicago II

Released: 1970
Label: Columbia
Catalog: PG 24
Genre: Rock
NOTE: Missing Poster
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Movin' In
02 The Road
03 Poem For The People
04 In The Country
05 Wake Up Sunshine

Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon

06 1. Make Me Smile
07 2. So Much To Say, So Much To Give
08 3. Anxiety's Moment
09 4. West Virginia Fantasies
10 5. Colour My World
11 6. To Be Free
12 7. Now More Than Ever

13 Fancy Colours
14 25 Or 6 To 4
15 Prelude
16 A.M. Mourning
17 P.M. Mourning
18 Memories Of Love

It Better End Soon

19 1st Movement
20 2nd Movement
21 3rd Movement
22 4th Movement
23 Where Do We Go From Here
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Album Review

Lindsay Planer [allmusic.com]

The Chicago Transit Authority recorded this double-barreled follow-up to their eponymously titled 1969 debut effort. The contents of Chicago II (1970) underscore the solid foundation of complex jazz changes with heavy electric rock & roll that the band so brazenly forged on the first set. The septet also continued its ability to blend the seemingly divergent musical styles into some of the best and most effective pop music of the era. One thing that had changed was the band's name, which was shortened to simply Chicago to avoid any potential litigious situations from the city of Chicago's transportation department -- which claimed the name as proprietary property. Musically, James Pankow (trombone) was about to further cross-pollinate the band's sound with the multifaceted six-song "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon." The classically inspired suite also garnered the band two of its most beloved hits -- the upbeat pop opener "Make Me Smile" as well as the achingly poignant "Color My World" -- both of which remained at the center of the group's live sets. Chicago had certainly not abandoned its active pursuit of blending high-octane electric rockers such as "25 or 6 to 4" to the progressive jazz inflections heard in the breezy syncopation of "The Road." Adding further depth of field is the darker "Poem for the People" as well as the politically charged five-song set titled "It Better End Soon." These selections feature the band driving home its formidable musicality and uncanny ability to coalesce styles telepathically and at a moment's notice. The contributions of Terry Kath (guitar/vocals) stand out as he unleashes some of his most pungent and sinuous leads, which contrast with the tight brass and woodwind trio of Lee Loughnane (trumpet/vocals), Walter Parazaider (woodwinds/vocals), and the aforementioned Pankow. Peter Cetera (bass/vocals) also marks his songwriting debut -- on the final cut of both the suite and the album -- with "Where Do We Go from Here." It bookends both with at the very least the anticipation and projection of a positive and optimistic future.


Chicago: Chicago III (1970)

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Chicago III

Released: 1971
Label: Columbia
Catalog: CG 30110
Genre: Rock / Pop
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Sing A Mean Tune Kid
02 Loneliness Is Just A Word
03 What Else Can I Say
04 I Don't Want Your Money

Travel Suite

05 i. Flight 602
06 ii. Motorboat To Mars
07 iii. Free
08 iv. Free Country
09 v. At The Sunrise
10 vi. Happy 'Cause I'm Going Home
11 Mother
12 Lowdown

An Hour In The Shower

13 i. A Hard Risin' Morning Without Breakfast
14 ii. Off To Work
15 iii. Fallin' Out
16 iv. Dreamin' Home
17 v. Morning Blues Again

Elegy

18 i. When All The Laughter Dies In Sorrow
19 ii. Canon
20 iii. Once Upon A Time....
21 iv. Progress
22 v. The Approaching Storm
23 Man Vs. Man--The End

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Album Review

by Lindsay Planer [allmusic.com]

Chicago's third effort, much like the preceding two, was initially issued as a double LP, and is packed with a combination of extended jams as well as progressive and equally challenging pop songs. Their innovative sound was the result of augmenting the powerful rock & roll quartet with a three-piece brass section -- the members of whom are all consummate soloists. Once again, the group couples that with material worthy of its formidable skills. In the wake of the band's earlier powerhouse successes, Chicago III has perhaps been unrightfully overshadowed. The bulk of the release consists of three multi-movement works: Robert Lamm's (keyboards/vocals) "Travel Suite," Terry Kath's (guitar/vocals) "An Hour in the Shower," and James Pankow's (trombone) ambitious and classically influenced "Elegy." While the long-player failed to produce any Top Ten hits, both Lamm's rocker "Free" -- extracted from "Travel Suite" -- as well as the infectious "Lowdown" respectively charted within the Top 40. "Sing a Mean Tune Kid" opens the album with a nine-plus minute jam highlighting the impressive wah-wah-driven fretwork from Terry Kath (guitar/vocals) and some decidedly rousing syncopated punctuation from the horns. Lamm's highly underrated jazzy keyboard contributions are notable throughout the tune as he maneuvers Peter Cetera's (bass/vocals) bouncy basslines and the equally limber percussion of Danny Seraphine (drums). "What Else Can I Say" reveals much more of the band's fusion beyond that of strictly pop/rock. The supple and liberated waltz bops around the playful melody line and is further bolstered by one of the LP's most elegant brass arrangements as well as some equally opulent bacarole_king vocal harmonies. "I Don't Want Your Money" is a hard-hittin' Kath/Lamm rocker that packs a bluesy wallop lying somewhere between Canned Heat and the Electric Flag. Again, Kath's remarkably funkified and sweet-toned electric guitar work hammers the track home.

Although "Travel Suite" is primarily a Lamm composition, both Seraphine's "Motorboat to Mars" drum solo and the acoustic experimental "Free Country" balance out the relatively straightforward movements. These include the aggressive "Free" and the decidedly more laid-back "At the Sunrise" and "Happy 'Cause I'm Going Home." Kath's "An Hour in the Shower" reveals the guitarist's under-utilized melodic sense and craftsmanship. His husky lead vocals perfectly complement the engaging arrangements, which blend his formidable electric axe-wielding with some equally tasty acoustic rhythm licks. In much the same way that the Beatles did on the B-side medley from Abbey Road (1969), Chicago reveals its rare and inimitable vocal blend during the short "Dreaming Home" bridge. Chicago III concludes with Pankow's six-part magnum opus, "Elegy." Its beautiful complexity incorporates many of the same emotive elements as his "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon" from their previous long-player. The ironically cacophonous and tongue-in-cheek "Progress" contains both comedic relief as well as an underlying social statement in the same vein as "Prologue, August 29, 1968" from Chicago Transit Authority (1969). The final two movements -- "The Approaching Storm" and "Man vs. Man: The End" -- are among the most involved, challenging, and definitive statements of jazz-rock fusion on the band's final double-disc studio effort. As pop music morphed into the mindless decadence that was the mid-'70s, Chicago abandoned its ambitiously arranged multifaceted epics, concentrating on more concise songcrafting.


Chicago - Chicago At Carnegie Hall Vols. 1,2,3&4 [Columbia K4X 30865] (1971)

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Chicago At Carnegie Hall Vols. 1,2,3&4

Released: 1971
Label: Columbia
Catalog: K4X 30865
Genre: Rock, Jazz
NOTE: Missing posters and book
T R A C K L I S T:
01 In The Country
02 Fancy Colours
03 Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? (Free Form Intro)
04 Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
05 South California Purples
06 Questions 67 And 68
07 Sing A Mean Tune Kid
08 Beginnings
09 It Better End Soon - 1st Movement
10 It Better End Soon - 2nd Movement (Flute Solo)
11 It Better End Soon - 3rd Movement (Guitar Solo)
12 It Better End Soon - 4th Movement (Preach)
13 It Better End Soon - 5th Movement
14 Introduction
15 Mother
16 Lowdown
17 Flight 602
18 Motorboat To Mars
19 Free
20 Where Do We Go From Here
21 I Don't Want Your Money
22 Happy 'Cause I'm Going Home

Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon

23 Make Me Smile
24 So Much To Say, So Much To Give
25 Anxiety's Moment
26 West Virginia Fantasies
27 Colour My World
28 To Be Free
29 Now More Than Ever

30 A Song For Richard And His Friends
31 25 Or 6 To 4
32 I'm A Man
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Album Review

Lindsay Planer [allmusic.com]

After issuing three consecutive studio double LPs, Chicago topped themselves with this four-album live box set. As the title suggests, At Carnegie Hall, Vols. 1-4 (Chicago IV) (1971) finds the band at the venerable New York City venue during a five-night stand (April 5-April 10) in the spring of 1971. The septet -- which includes the respective talents of Terry Kath (lead guitar/vocals), Robert Lamm (keyboards/vocals), Peter Cetera (bass/vocals), Danny Seraphine (drums), Lee Loughnane (trumpet/vocals), James Pankow (trombone), and Walter Parazaider (woodwinds/vocals) -- were at their unquestionable peak of initial popularity. Their previous three double LPs continued extended runs on the pop album chart and likewise spawned a number of hit singles. So by the time the group hit the Big Apple for these shows, they were among the hottest things happening. Chicago's set list is wholly representative of the material from Chicago Transit Authority (1969), Chicago II (1970), and Chicago III (1971) and includes several extended multi-song medleys from each. The band winds its way through muscular versions of the epic "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon," "Travel Suite," as well as lengthy renderings of deeper cuts such as "South California Purples," "Fancy Colours," and the ten-minute-plus opening "In the Country." One of the set's most notable highlights is the politically charged "For Richard and His Friends." The lengthy and well-jammed-out cut is both groovy and propulsive. However, the acoustics at Carnegie Hall are quite frankly not (and really never have been) properly suited for heavily amplified music. While the percussion and electric guitars are clearly audible, the woodwind and brass section come off sounding extremely thin and devoid of any real timbre. This is unfortunate, as a primary component of the band is the contrasting textures between the two. Enthusiasts seeking a much more sonically accurate portrait should by whatever means necessary locate the Live in Japan 1972 two-CD set -- which also includes tracks from Chicago's fifth effort.


Chicago: Chicago V (1972)

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ITEM# SR-KC31102
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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Chicago V

Released: 1972
Label: Columbia
Catalog: KC 31102
Genre: Rock / Pop
T R A C K L I S T:
01 A Hit By Varese
02 All Is Well
03 Now That You've Gone
04 Dialogue (Part One)
05 Dialogue (Part Two)
06 While The City Sleeps
07 Saturday In The Park
08 State Of The Union
09 Goodbye
10 Alma Mater
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Album Review

by Lindsay Planer [allmusic.com]

With four gold multi-disc LPs and twice as many hit singles to its credit, Chicago issued its fifth effort, the first to clock in at under an hour. What they lack in quantity, they more than make up for in the wide range of quality of material. The disc quite literally erupts with the progressive free-form "A Hit By Varese" -- which seems to have been inspired as much by Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Tarkus (1971) or Yes circa Close to the Edge (1972) as by the Parisian composer for whom it is named. Fully 80 percent of the material on Chicago V (1972) is also a spotlight for the prolific songwriting of Robert Lamm (keyboards/vocals). In addition to penning the opening rocker, he is also responsible for the easy and airy "All Is Well," which is particularly notable for its lush Beach Boys-esque harmonies. However, Lamm's most memorable contributions are undoubtedly the Top Ten sunshine power pop anthem "Saturday in the Park" and the equally upbeat and buoyant "Dialogue, Pt. 1" and "Dialogue, Pt. 2." Those more accessible tracks are contrasted by James Pankow's (trombone/percussion) aggressive jazz fusion "Now That You've Gone." Although somewhat dark and brooding, it recalls the bittersweet "So Much to Say, So Much to Give" and "Anxiety's Moment" movements of "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon" found on Chicago II (1970).

Terry Kath's (guitar/vocals) heartfelt ballad "Alma Mater" seems to be influenced by a Randy Newman sensibility. Lyrically, it could be interpreted as an open letter to his generation. Lines such as "Looking back a few short years/When we made our plans and played the cards/The way they fell/Clinging to our confidence/We stood on the threshold of the goal/That we knew, dear" affectively recall the monumental world events that had taken place during the late '60s and early '70s. Likewise, there is an undeniable one-on-one intimated in the verse "And though we had our fights/Had our short tempered nights/It couldn't pull our dreams apart/All our needs and all our wants/Drawn together in our heart/We felt it from the very start." This is a fitting way to conclude both the original album, if not the entire troubled era. Due to the time constraints of a single-disc LP, Chicago never issued a studio version of the mini political epic "A Song for Richard and His Friends." It had been worked up and performed live while touring behind Chicago III (1971), and appears as a standout on the much maligned At Carnegie Hall, Vols. 1-4 (Chicago IV) four-disc concert package (1971). The 2002 CD reissue of Chicago V includes among its supplemental materials an eight-plus minute instrumental studio version of the track. Also featured as "bonus selections" are a seminal rendering of Kath's powerhouse "Mississippi Delta City Blues" -- which would be shelved for nearly five years before turning up on Chicago XI (1977) -- and the 45 rpm edit of "Dialogue, Pts. 1-2."


Chicago - Chicago VI [Columbia KC 32400] (25 June 1973)

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Chicago VI

Released: 25 June 1973
Label: Columbia
Catalog: KC 32400
Genre: Jazz, Rock, Pop


T R A C K L I S T:
01 Critics' Choice
02 Just You 'N' Me
03 Darlin' Dear
04 Jenny
05 What's This World Comin' To
06 Something In This City Changes People
07 Hollywood
08 In Terms Of Two
09 Rediscovery
10 Feelin' Stronger Every Day
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Album Review

Lindsay Planer [allmusic.com]

This is the sixth album from the jazz/pop/rock combo Chicago, and was likewise the first to be recorded at the plush, well-lit, and custom-built Caribou Studios in Nederland, CO. The facility was owned and operated by the band's manager and producer, James William Guercio, and eventually became the group's retreat for their next five (non-compilation) long-players. Another and perhaps more significant change was the incorporation of several ''outside'' additional musicians -- most notably Laudir De Oliveira (percussion), who would remain with the band for the next seven years and eight LPs. Although Chicago had begun as a harder-edged rock & roll band, popular music styles were undergoing a shift during the mid-'70s into a decidedly more middle-of-the-road (MOR) and less-aggressive sound. This is reflected in the succinct pop and light rock efforts, contrasting the earlier lengthy and multi-movement epics that filled their earlier works. Nowhere is this more evident than on Chicago VI's (1973) two Top Ten singles: the easygoing James Pankow (trombone) ballad ''Just You & Me'' as well as the up-tempo rocker ''Feelin' Stronger Every Day,'' which Pankow co-wrote with Peter Cetera (vocal/bass). This more melodic and introverted sensibility pervades the rest of the disc as well -- especially from Robert Lamm (keyboard/vocals), who is particularly prolific, penning half of the material on the disc. Even his sardonically titled ''Critics' Choice'' -- which is undoubtedly a musical rebuttal to Chicago's increasingly negative critical assessment -- is a languid and delicate response, rather than a full-force confutation. ''Darlin' Dear'' -- another Lamm contribution -- on the other hand, is a horn-fuelled rocker that actually recalls Little Feat more than it does most of Chicago's previous sides. Compositions from other bandmembers include the heartfelt Terry Kath (guitar/vocals) ballad ''Jenny,'' which features some fluid fretwork much in the same vein as that of Jimi Hendrix's ''Angel'' or ''Castles Made of Sand.'' Additionally, Peter Cetera's (bass/vocals) ''In Terms of Two'' includes a more down-home and countrified acoustic vibe. While Chicago VI is an undeniably strong effort -- supported at the time by its chart-topping status -- many bandmembers and longtime enthusiasts were beginning to grow apart from the lighter, pop-oriented material.


Chicago: Chicago VII (1974)

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Chicago VII

Released: 1974
Label: Columbia
Catalog: CG 32810
Genre: Rock / Pop
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Prelude To Aire
02 Aire
03 Devil's Sweet
04 Italian From New York
05 Hanky Panky
06 Life Saver
07 Happy Man
08 (I've Been) Searchin' So Long
09 Mongonucleosis
10 Song Of The Evergreens
11 Byblos
12 Wishing You Were Here
13 Call On Me
14 Women Don't Want To Love Me
15 Skinny Boy
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Album Review

by Lindsay Planer [allmusic.com]

Although commercially successful, Chicago's previous long-player, Chicago VI (1973), had not been received as warmly from both the critics as well as from some bandmembers. Both parties expressed their dissatisfaction with the lighter fare and significantly shorter material. In response, the combo briefly returned to their previously tried and true methodology on their follow-up album. As such, Chicago VII (1974) was not only a double LP, but much of the effort likewise returned them to their former jazz/rock glory while continuing the middle-of-the-road (MOR) ethos that was concurrently impacting the pop charts. Nowhere is this more evident than the trio of sides extracted as singles -- including the Top Ten hits "(I've Been) Searching So Long," "Call on Me," and "Wishing You Were Here." The latter of which features some stunning bacarole_king vocals from Beach Boys Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, and Alan Jardine. The group were continuing in their incorporation of additional musicians, most notably Laudir DeOliveira (percussion) and David J. Wolinski (ARP synthesizer) -- both of whom are prominently featured throughout the sides. The opening instrumentals, including "Prelude to Aire," "Aire," and "Devil's Sweet," reflect Daniel Seraphine's (drums) tremendously underrated skills as a writer as well as the combo's recently underutilized talents as ensemble musicians. All three tracks provide a brilliant showcase for the brass/woodwind section(s) to flex their respective muscles, drawing heavily upon the styles of Weather Report and to some extent Miles Davis and Santana. The nature of their seemingly experimental fusion is stretched out even further on "Italian From New York." The cut includes some interesting ARP interjections from Robert Lamm, whose decidedly free-form contributions weave alongside some rubbery and liquefied fretwork courtesy of Terry Kath (guitar/vocals). His lead bobs around Lamm's synthesizer and an equally prominent cool-toned Fender Rhodes keyboard bed. The second half of Chicago VII directly contrasts the less structured instrumentals with more inclusive sides such as the previously mentioned hits "Call On Me" and "Wishing You Were Here." Other highlights include Lamm's funky mid-tempo "Life Saver," Peter Cetera's (bass/vocals) laid-back and unencumbered "Happy Man," and a double shot from Kath in the form of two serene ballads, "Song of the Evergreens" and "Byblos" -- which features some stellar acoustic strumming. This collection would be Chicago's final two-disc set by the original lineup and offers the best of the band as improvisational instrumentalists as well as concise, emotive vocalists and song crafters.


Chicago - Chicago VIII [Columbia PC 33100] (1975)

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ITEM# SR-COPC33100
Ratings: C=VG; LP=G-

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Chicago VIII

Released: 1975
Label: Columbia
Catalog: PC 33100
Genre: Rock / Pop
NOTE: LP is significantly warped


T R A C K L I S T:
01 Anyway You Want
02 Brand New Love Affair
03 Never Been In Love Before
04 Hideaway
05 Till We Meet Again
06 Harry Truman
07 Oh, Thank You Great Spirit
08 Long Time No See
09 Ain't It Blue?
10 Old Days
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Album Review

After five consecutive years of constant activity, the members of Chicago were feeling drained as they came to record Chicago VIII at producer James William Guercio's Caribou Ranch in Colorado in the summer of 1974. While the variety in styles explored on Chicago VIII were reminiscent of Chicago VI, this particular album had a more distinct rock feel, as exemplified on Peter Cetera's ''Anyway You Want'' (later covered by Canadian singer Charity Brown) and ''Hideaway'', as well as Terry Kath's Hendrix tribute ''Oh, Thank You Great Spirit'' and James Pankow's hit ''Old Days'' (#5). The ballad ''Brand New Love Affair, Part I & II'' charted at #61.

Preceded by Lamm's nostalgic ''Harry Truman'' (#13) as lead single, Chicago VIII was held over for release until March 1975 as Chicago VII was still riding high in the charts. While it easily reached #1 in the US, the album had a lukewarm critical reception - still commonly considered, by some, as one of their weakest albums, resulting in the briefest chart stay of any Chicago album thus far. It was also the first album to feature session percussionist Laudir de Oliveira as a full-fledged band member rather than merely a sideman, the first addition to the original lineup. [wikipedia.org]


Chicago - Greatest Hits (IX) (Columbia BL 33900) (1975)

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ITEM# SR-COBL33900
Ratings: C=VG; LP=VG+

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Greatest Hits (IX)

Released: 1975
Label: Columbia
Catalog: BL 33900
Genre: Pop / Rock
T R A C K L I S T:
01 25 Or 6 To 4
02 Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
03 Colour My World
04 Just You 'n' Me
05 Saturday In The Park
06 Feelin' Stronger Every Day
07 Make Me Smile
08 Wishing You Were Here
09 Call On Me
10 (I've Been) Searchin' So Long
11 Beginnings
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Album Review

Stephen Cook [allmusic.com]

Does anyone need another Chicago album besides this one? For the casual fan, the answer is definitely no. The 1975 blockbuster includes all the band's hits from its prime. And while tracks like "Wishing You Were Here" and "Feelin' Stronger Every Day" have worn a wee thin over the years, most of the cuts here are still topnotch. Standouts include the incomparable "Saturday in the Park," "Beginnings," and "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" When rock grew up with horns, jazz charts, and chops. Not as snide as Steely Dan or as soulful as Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago still delivered with the 11 fine sides heard here.


Chicago - Chicago X (Columbia PC 34200) (1976)

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Chicago X

Released: 1976
Label: Columbia
Catalog: PC 34200
Genre: Rock / Pop
NOTE: Original Release Gatefold Album Cover
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Once or Twice
02 You Are on My Mind
03 Skin Tight
04 If You Leave Me Now
05 Together Again
06 Another Rainy Day in New York City
07 Mama Mama
08 Scrapbook
09 Gently I'll Wake You
10 You Get It Up
11 Hope for Love
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Album Review

Lindsay Planer [allmusic.com]

Although it was their tenth release Chicago X (1976) was actually the band's eighth studio effort -- as Chicago IV (1972) had been a live set from Carnegie Hall and Chicago IX (1975), which precedes this disc, was their first best-of collection. Musically, the combo had effectively abandoned their extended free-form jazz leanings for more succinct pop songs. That is not to say that the band couldn't rock, because they could as evidenced by the Terry Kath (guitar/vocals) full-tilt rave-up "Once or Twice," which commences the album. The hot brass section bows deeply and respectfully to their Muscle Shoals counterparts as Kath does his best funky Otis Redding vocal. Showing his tremendous depth of field, Kath bookends the LP with the empowering and positive "Hope for Love." In between those two extremes are some of Chicago's best-known works -- such as Peter Cetera's (bass/vocals) chart-topping light rock epic "If You Leave Me Now" and Robert Lamm's (keyboards/vocals) "Another Rainy Night in New York City." The latter side also reveals a minor motif, as it is a Latin-based song about the Big Apple. It follows in the footsteps of the improv-heavy "Italian from New York" from their previous studio effort, the fusion-filled Chicago VII (1974). Lamm contributes a few other tucked-away classics to Chicago X as well -- such as the aggressive and sexy "You Get It Up." There are also a pair from James Pankow(trombone/vocals) in the form of the syncopated "You Are on My Mind" -- which crossed over onto both the adult contemporary as well as pop music charts. His other composition is the classy brass of "Skin Tight." The upfront horn interjections and overall augmentation are akin to the sound made famous by their West Coast Tower of Power contemporaries. As a majority of their previous efforts had done -- all sans their debut -- Chicago X was a Top Ten album and "If You Leave Me Now" became a double Grammy winner, for both Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo Group or Chorus and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s). The latter award was actually not given to the band, but rather to noted string arranger Jimmie Haskell and the group's longtime producer, James William Guercio. Another well-deserved Grammy was given to John Berg for his visually enticing cover art -- depicting Chicago's logo on the wrapper of what otherwise appears to be a Hershey chocolate bar. As the disc was released in the summer of the U.S. bicentennial (1976), the all-American image was undoubtedly and duly noted.


Chicago: Chicago XI (1977)

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ITEM# SR-COLJC34860
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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Chicago XI

Released: 1977
Label: Columbia
Catalog: JC 34860
Genre: Rock / Pop
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Mississippi Delta City Blues
02 Baby, What A Big Surprise
03 Till The End Of Time
04 Policeman
05 Take Me Back To Chicago
06 Vote For Me
07 Takin' It On Uptown
08 This Time
09 The Inner Struggles Of A Man
10 Prelude (Little One)
11 Little One
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Album Review

by Lindsay Planer [allmusic.com]

Chicago XI (1977) was the final studio effort to feature the original septet, who by this time had been performing and recording for nearly a decade. In late January 1978, founding member Terry Kath (guitar/vocals) accidentally and fatally shot himself, forever altering the band's sound and indeed much of the combo's tenacious rock & roll heart. It is somewhat fitting that their ninth studio release (11th overall) contains two Kath compositions as well as a pair of additional lead vocals. The funky, up-tempo "Mississippi Delta Blues" opens the album with a showcase of his writing and performance skills. The more aggressive "Takin' It On Uptown" is a gritty rocker that further demonstrates Kath's unparalleled fret board prowess. These tougher tracks are counterbalanced by another round of light pop balladry from the usual suspects of Peter Cetera (bass/vocals), whose "Baby, What a Big Surprise" was the perfect Top Ten follow-up to his chart-topping and two-time Grammy-winning "If You Leave Me Now" from Chicago X (1976). Although undeniably successful, the group had become somewhat predictable as well. This, along with the increasingly schizophrenic popular music trend toward both disco and punk, simultaneously stifled the album's other lightweight fare, such as Daniel Seraphine's "Take Me Back to Chicago" or his slightly darker and more heavily orchestrated "Little One," featuring a truly emotive lead vocal from Kath. Speaking of orchestration, Chicago XI also includes a full-blown mini symphony courtesy of noted West Coast arranger Dominic Frontiere, whose résumé includes contributions to artists as far afield as Booker T. & the M.G.'s and Dan Fogelberg to Eartha Kitt or Bing Crosby. On this album, he not only adds well-placed strings to the hit "Baby, What a Big Surprise," but also the more inclusive instrumental "The Inner Struggles of a Man" and the "Prelude" to "Little One." Also worth mentioning are James Pankow's soulful pop ballad "Till the End of Time," which is pulled off with a sonic finesse reminiscent of "Big" Al Anderson during his NRBQ days. Adding to the hauntingly familiar refrain are some sweet vocal inflections and a brassy horn section, who supply a laid-back and understated bed not unlike that of the Q's Whole Wheat Horns. Another blow was dealt to the band's internal structure by way of their somewhat acrimonious split with producer and (at least in the beginning) musical mentor James William Guercio -- under whose direction Chicago had been "discovered." Long-existing struggles between the band and management included the predicable and arguable overuse of the distinct Cola-Cola-inspired "Chicago" logo and Roman numeral cataloging -- both of which had prominently graced the cover of every single band release thus far. Additional and much less visible conflicts also existed between bandmembers and their producer as well. Fortunately, the spirit of Chicago would re-emerge under the direction of famed soundsmith Phil Ramone for their next effort, Hot Streets (1978).


Chicago: Hot Streets (XII) (1978)

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Hot Streets (XII)

Released: 1978
Label: Columbia
Catalog: FC 35512
Genre: Rock / Pop
NOTE: LP was sealed until opened for this transfer
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T R A C K L I S T:
01 Alive Again
02 The Greatest Love On Earth
03 Little Miss Lovin'
04 Hot Streets
05 Take A Chance
06 Gone Long Gone
07 Ain't It Time
08 Love Was New
09 No Tell Lover
10 Show Me The Way
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Album Review

by Lindsay Planer [allmusic.com]

Although Chicago tragically marked its decade anniversary with the bitter loss of lead guitarist Terry Kath, Hot Streets (1978) was not only the first release without him, it was also the band's initial offering away from James William Guercio -- with whom the group had worked on every one of its previous dozen long-players. Donnie Dacus (guitar/vocals) was brought in to fill Kath's formidable shoes. His maiden voyage would likewise mark the beginning of a downward spiral in terms of the string of hits that was usually associated with Chicago albums. Both the upbeat and pumping opener "Alive Again" and the typical adult contemporary balladry of "No Tell Lover" became their last Top 40 hits for nearly four years. Phil Ramone's production gives the material an added and noticeable bite. The Peter Cetera (bass/vocals) rocker "Little Miss Lover" recalls the band's earliest sides by blending an aggressive backbeat with a funky and soulful rhythm. "Gone, Gone, Gone," the disc's other Cetera contribution, also stands out for Dacus' spot-on slide guitar intonation, which mimics a similar style used most notably by George Harrison. Although it failed to chart when extracted as a single, Robert Lamm's (keyboards/vocals) "Love Was New" is one of the more jazz-influenced tunes on Hot Streets. The laid-back groove effortlessly carries the melody behind a fusion of light rock and contemporary jazz. The 2003 CD reissue includes an additional "bonus selection," a second version of "Love Was New" with an alternate lead vocal from newcomer Dacus. The rapidly changing pop music landscape, whose horizons would embrace disco and new wave, would all but abandon Chicago for the group's next few albums. Although the band attempted to adapt to the trends, it would be four LPs and four years before Chicago would re-emerge in full form on its comeback, Chicago 16 (1982).


Chicago - XIII (13) [Columbia FC 36105] (13 August 1979)

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

XIII (13)

Released: 13 August 1979
Label: Columbia
Catalog: FC 36105
Genre: Rock


T R A C K L I S T:
01 Street Player
02 Mama Take
03 Must Have Been Crazy
04 Window Dreamin'
05 Paradise Alley
06 Aloha Mama
07 Reruns
08 Loser With A Broken Heart
09 Life Is What It Is
10 Run Away
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Album Review

Chicago 13 is the eleventh studio album by the American band Chicago, released in 1979. The follow-up to Hot Streets, Chicago 13 is often critically disfavored. This would be the band's final release that features lead guitarist Donnie Dacus, who had followed late, founding lead guitarist, Terry Kath. All band members would contribute to the songwriting (one of only two albums where this is the case, with the other being Chicago VII).

After recording sessions in Morin-Heights, Quebec and Hollywood, Chicago 13—which saw the band return to numbering its albums and displaying its logo—was released that August and was preceded by Donnie Dacus's "Must Have Been Crazy" as lead single. Chicago 13 is the first Chicago album to bear no significant hit singles. With negative reviews, Chicago 13 reached No. 21 and went gold. Not long after its release and the tour to support it, Dacus was fired from the band with no explanation as to why he was fired. [wikipedia.org]


Chicago - Greatest Hits, Vol II (aka XV) [Columbia FC 37682] (1981)

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Greatest Hits, Vol II (aka XV)

Released: 1981
Label: Columbia
Catalog: FC 37682
Genre: Rock
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Baby, What A Big Surprise
02 Dialogue, Pt. 2
03 No Tell Lover
04 Alive Again
05 Old Days
06 If You Leave Me Now
07 Questions 67 & 68
08 Happy Man
09 Gone Long Gone
10 Take Me Back To Chicago
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Chicago - 16 (Full Moon 1-23689) (1982)

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

16

Released: 1982
Label: Full Moon
Catalog: 1-23689
Genre: Rock / Progressive Jazz-Rock / Pop
T R A C K L I S T:
01 What You're Missing
02 Waiting For You To Decide
03 Bad Advice
04 Chains
05 Hard To Say I'm Sorry/Get Away
06 Follow Me
07 Sonny Think Twice
08 What Can I Say
09 Rescue You
10 Love Me Tomorrow
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Album Reveiw

Stephen Thomas Erlewine [allmusic.com]

Although they had a moderate hit with 1978's Hot Streets, for all intents and purposes Chicago had been adrift since the tragic death of Terry Kath in January of 1978. Chicago 16 is where the band finally righted itself, in no small part due to the addition of guitarist/keyboardist Bill Champlin, the namesake of the '60s San Franciscan psychedelic outfit the Sons of Champlin, who in addition to joining the band brought into the circle the producer who would change Chicago's commercial fortunes: David Foster. The Canadian producer had worked with Champlin on a solo album, Runaway, which made a very small ripple on the Billboard charts upon its 1981 release, but did pave the way for the sound that Chicago developed on 16. Under the direction of Foster, Chicago turned away from any lingering jazz-rock roots they had, and they also backed away from the disco aspirations that sank their turn-of-the-decade platters. Instead, they pursued a glistening modern pop sound, anchored with dramatic drums, built on synthesizers, decked out in arena rock guitars, layered with harmonies, and stripped of any excesses -- which by and large included Chicago's famed horn section, which was now used for punctuation instead of functioning as the center of the group's sound. This was no-nonsense, all-business, crisp and clean pop for the Reagan era, and it not only became a smash hit for Chicago -- reaching the Top Ten, thanks to the singles "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" and "Love Me Tomorrow" -- it defined Foster's sound, which in turned defined adult contemporary for the '80s. It may not have been too faithful to Chicago, at least what the band was in the '70s, but amidst '80s adult pop, it's a high watermark -- and a lot punchier and tougher than the singles would suggest, too, since almost all of the album tracks are relatively high energy and soulful. And since this finds Foster hitting his groove as a producer, 16 is always a pleasure to listen to even when the songs themselves tend toward the forgettable. Again, it's not necessarily an album for fans of Chicago the musicians, but those who love Foster the producer and the two singles on 16, this record is an entertaining period piece. [Rhino's 2006 reissue of 16 is remastered and contains one bonus track in "Daddy's Favorite Fool," a previously unissued -- and pretty good -- demo by Champlin.]


Chicago: Chicago 17 (1984)

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Chicago 17

Released: 1984
Label: Warner Bros
Catalog: 25060
Genre: Rock / Pop
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Stay The Night
02 We Can Stop The Hurtin'
03 Hard Habit To Break
04 Only You
05 Remember The Feeling
06 Along Comes A Woman
07 You're The Inspiration
08 Please Hold On
09 Prima Donna
10 Once In A Lifetime
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Album Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine [allmusic.com]

Chicago 16 finally gave Chicago a big hit after a four-year drought, thanks in large part to new producer David Foster, who steered the jazz-rock veterans toward a streamlined, crisply produced pop direction on that 1982 effort. Given that success, it's no surprise that the septet teamed with Foster again for its next album, 1984's Chicago 17 (apparently Roman numerals were left behind along with their progressive jazz-rock). It's also no surprise that Foster took an even greater control of 17, steering the group further down the adult contemporary road and pushing Peter Cetera toward the front of the group, while pushing the horns toward the back. Indeed, it's often possible to not notice the horns on 17; they either fade into the background or meld seamlessly with the synthesizers that are the primary instruments here, providing not just the fabric but foundation of nearly all the arrangements, as synth bass and drum machines replaced the rhythm section. This did not sit well with many longtime fans -- and it may have also caused some tension within the group, since Cetera left after this album -- but it did make for the biggest hit album in Chicago's history, going quadruple platinum and peaking at number four on the Billboard charts. A big reason for its success is the pair of hit ballads in "Hard Habit to Break" and "You're the Inspiration," two big and slick dramatic ballads that each peaked at number three on the charts and helped set the sound for adult contemporary pop for the rest of the decade; the likes of Michael Bolton and Richard Marx are unimaginable without these songs existing as a blueprint (in fact, Marx sang backup vocals on "We Can Stop the Hurtin'" on 17).

Ballads were a big part of 17 -- in fact, these hits and album cuts like "Remember the Feeling" are among the first power ballads, ballads that were given arena rock flourishes and dramatic arrangements but never took the focus off the melody, so housewives and preteens alike could sing along with them. Power ballads later became the province of hair metal bands like Bon Jovi and Poison, but Foster's work with Chicago on 17 really helped set the stage for them, since he not only gave the ballads sweeping rock arrangements, but the harder, punchier tunes here play like ballads. Even when the band turns up the intensity here -- "Stay the Night" has a spare, rather ominous beat that suggests they were trying for album-oriented rock; "Along Comes a Woman" has a stiff drum loop and a hiccupping synth bass that suggests dance-pop -- the music is still slick, shiny, and soft, music that can appeal to the widest possible audience. 17 did indeed find the widest possible audience, as it ruled radio into late 1985, by which time there were plenty of imitators of Foster's style. There may have been plenty of imitators -- soon, solo Cetera was one of them, making music that was indistinguishable from this -- but nobody bettered Foster, and Chicago 17 is his pièce de résistance, a record that sounded so good it didn't quite matter that some of the material didn't stick as songs; as a production, it was the pinnacle of his craft and one of the best adult contemporary records of the '80s, perhaps the best of them all. Certainly, it's hard to think of another adult contemporary album quite as influential within its style as this -- not only did it color the records that followed, but it's hard not to think of Chicago 17 as the place where soft rock moved away from the warm, lush sounds that defined the style in the late '70s and early '80s and moved toward the crisp, meticulous, synthesized sound of adult contemporary pop, for better or worse, depending on your point of view. [Rhino reissued Chicago 17 in 2006 with remastered sound and a bonus track: Robert Lamm's previously unreleased "Where We Begin."]


Chicago - Chicago 18 (Warner Bros 9 25509-1) (1986)

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Artist:

Chicago

Title:

Chicago 18

Released: 1986
Label: Warner Bros
Catalog: 9 25509-1
Genre: Rock / Pop
T R A C K L I S T:
01 Niagra Falls
02 Forever
03 If She Would Have Been Faithful
04 25 Or 6 To 4
05 Will You Still Love Me?
06 Over And Over
07 It's Alright
08 Nothin's Gonna Stop Us Now
09 I Believe
10 One More Day
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Chicago's Biography

by William Ruhlmann [allmusic.com]

According to Billboard chart statistics, Chicago is second only to the Beach Boys as the most successful American rock band of all time, in terms of both albums and singles. Judged by album sales, as certified by the R.I.A.A., the band does not rank quite so high, but it is still among the Top Ten best-selling U.S. groups ever. If such statements of fact surprise, that's because Chicago has been singularly underrated since the beginning of its long career, both because of its musical ambitions (to the musicians, rock is only one of several styles of music to be used and blended, along with classical, jazz, R&B, and pop) and because of its refusal to emphasize celebrity over the music. The result has been that fundamentalist rock critics have consistently failed to appreciate its music and that its media profile has always been low. At the same time, however, Chicago has succeeded in the ways it intended to. From the beginning of its emergence as a national act, it has been able to fill arenas with satisfied fans. And beyond the impressive sales and chart statistics, its music has endured, played constantly on the radio and instantly familiar to tens of millions. When, in 2002, Chicago's biggest hits were assembled together on the two-disc set The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning and the album debuted in the Top 50, giving the band the distinction of having had chart albums in five consecutive decades, the music industry and some music journalists may have been startled. But the fans who had been supporting Chicago for over 30 years were not.

Chicago marked the confluence of two distinct, but intermingling musical strains in Chicago, IL, in the mid-'60s: an academic approach and one coming from the streets. Reed player Walter Parazaider (born March 14, 1945, in Chicago, IL), trumpeter Lee Loughnane (born October 21, 1946, in Chicago, IL), and trombonist James Pankow (born August 20, 1947, in St. Louis, MO) were all music students at DePaul University. But they moonlighted in the city's clubs, playing everything from R&B to Irish music, and there they encountered less formally educated but no less talented players like guitarist Terry Kath (born January 31, 1946, in Chicago, IL; died January 23, 1978, in Los Angeles, CA) and drummer Danny Seraphine (born August 28, 1948, in Chicago, IL). In the mid-'60s, most rock groups followed the instrumentation of the Beatles -- two guitars, bass, and drums -- and horn sections were heard only in R&B. But in the summer of 1966, the Beatles used horns on "Got to Get You into My Life" on their Revolver album and, as usual, pop music began to follow their lead. At the end of the year, the Bucarole_kinghams, a Chicago band guided by a friend of Parazaider's, James William Guercio, scored a national hit with the horn-filled "Kind of a Drag," which went on to hit number one in February 1967.

That was all the encouragement Parazaider and his friends needed. Parazaider called a meeting of the band-to-be at his apartment on February 15, 1967, inviting along a talented organist and singer he had run across, Robert Lamm (born October 13, 1944, in New York, NY [Brooklyn]). Lamm agreed to join and also said he could supply the missing bass sounds to the ensemble using the organ's foot pedals (a skill he had not actually acquired at the time).

Developing a repertoire of James Brown and Wilson Pickett material, the new band rehearsed in Parazaider's parents' basement before beginning to get gigs around town under the name the Big Thing. Soon, they were playing around the Midwest. By this time, Guercio had become a staff producer at Columbia Records, and he encouraged the band to begin developing original songs. Kath, and especially Lamm, took up the suggestion. (Soon, Pankow also became a major writer for the band.) Meanwhile, the sextet became a septet when Peter Cetera (born September 13, 1944, in Chicago, IL), singer and bassist for a rival Midwest band, the Exceptions, agreed to defect and join the Big Thing. This gave the group the unusual versatility of having three lead singers, the smooth baritone Lamm, the gruff baritone Kath, and Cetera, who was an elastic tenor. When Guercio came back to see the group in the late winter of 1968, he deemed them ready for the next step. In June 1968, he financed their move to Los Angeles.

Guercio exerted a powerful influence on the band as its manager and producer, which would become a problem over time. At first, the bandmembers were willing to live together in a two-bedroom house, practice all the time, and change the group's name to one of Guercio's choosing, Chicago Transit Authority. Guercio's growing power at Columbia Records enabled him to get the band signed there and to set in place the unusual image the band would have. He convinced the label to let this neophyte band release a double album as its debut (that is, when they agreed to a cut in their royalties), and he decided the group would be represented on the cover by a logo instead of a photograph.

Chicago Transit Authority, released in April 1969, debuted on the charts in May as the band began touring nationally. By July, the album had reached the Top 20, without benefit of a hit single. It had been taken up by the free-form FM rock stations and become an underground hit. It was certified gold by the end of the year and eventually went on to sell more than two million copies. (In September 1969, the band played the Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Festival, and somehow the promoter obtained the right to tape the show. That same low-fidelity tape has turned up in an endless series of albums ever since. Examples include: Anthology, Beat the Bootleggers: Live 1967, Beginnings, Beginnings Live, Chicago [Classic World], Chicago Live, Chicago Transit Authority: Live in Concert [Magnum], Chicago Transit Authority: Live in Concert [Onyx], Great Chicago in Concert, I'm a Man, In Concert [Digmode], In Concert [Pilz], Live! [Columbia River], Live [LaserLight], Live Chicago, Live in Concert, Live in Toronto, Live '69, Live 25 or 6 to 4, The Masters, Rock in Toronto, and Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Revival.) To Guercio's surprise, he was contacted by the real Chicago Transit Authority, which objected to the band's use of the name; he responded by shortening the name to simply "Chicago." When he and the group finished the second album (another double) for release at the start of 1970, it was called Chicago, though it has since become known as Chicago II.

Chicago II vaulted into the Top Ten in its second week on the Billboard chart, even before its first single, "Make Me Smile," hit the Hot 100. The single was an excerpt from a musical suite, and the band at first objected to the editing considered necessary to prepare it for AM radio play. But it went on to reach the Top Ten, as did its successor, "25 or 6 to 4." The album quickly went gold and eventually platinum. In the fall of 1970, Columbia Records released "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?," drawn from the group's first album, as its next single; it gave them their third consecutive Top Ten hit.

Chicago III, another double album, was ready for release at the start of 1971, and it just missed hitting number one while giving the band a third gold (and later platinum) LP. Its singles did not reach the Top Ten, however, and Columbia again reached back, releasing "Beginnings" (from the first album) backed with "Colour My World" (from the second) to give Chicago its fourth Top Ten single. Next up was a live album, the four-disc box set Chicago at Carnegie Hall, which, despite its size, crested in the Top Five and sold over a million copies. (The band itself preferred Live in Japan, an album recorded in February 1972 and initially released only in Japan.) Chicago V, a one-LP set, released in July 1972, spent nine weeks at number one on its way to selling over two million copies, spurred by its gold-selling Top Ten hit "Saturday in the Park." Chicago VI followed a year later and repeated the same success, launching the Top Ten singles "Feelin' Stronger Every Day" and "Just You 'n' Me."

The next Top Ten hit, "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long," was released in advance of Chicago VII in the late winter of 1974. The album was the band's third consecutive chart-topper and another million-seller. "Call on Me" became its second Top Ten single. Chicago VIII, which marked the promotion of sideman percussionist Laudir de Oliveira as a full-fledged bandmember, appeared in the spring of 1975, spawned the Top Ten hit "Old Days," and became the band's fourth consecutive number one LP. After the profit-taking Chicago IX: Chicago's Greatest Hits in the fall of 1975 came Chicago X, which missed hitting number one but eventually sold over two million copies, in part because of the inclusion of the Grammy-winning number one single "If You Leave Me Now." Chicago XI, released in the late summer of 1977, continued the seemingly endless string of success, reaching the Top Ten, selling a million copies, and generating the Top Five hit "Baby, What a Big Surprise."

But there was trouble beneath the surface. The band's big hits were starting to be solely ballads sung by Cetera, which frustrated the musicians' musical ambitions. They had failed to attract critical notice, and what press attention they were given often alluded to Guercio's Svengali-like control as manager and producer. Chicago determined to fire Guercio and demonstrate that they could succeed without him. Shortly afterward, they were struck by a crushing blow. Kath, a gun enthusiast, accidentally shot and killed himself on January 23, 1978. Though he, like most of the other members of the band, was not readily recognizable outside the group, he had actually had a large say in its direction, and his loss was incalculable. Nevertheless, the band closed ranks and went on.

Guitarist Donnie Dacus was chosen from auditions and joined the band in time for its 12th LP release, which was given a non-numerical title, Hot Streets, and which put prominent pictures of the bandmembers on the cover for the first time. The sound, as indicated by the first single, the Top 20 hit "Alive Again," was harder rock, and the band's core following responded, but Hot Streets was Chicago's first album since 1969 to miss the Top Ten. Chicago 13 then missed the Top 20. (At this point, Dacus left the band, and Chicago hired guitarist Chris Pinnick as a sideman, eventually upping him to full-fledged group-member status.) Released in 1980, Chicago XIV, the last album to feature de Oliveira, didn't go gold. By 1981, with the release of the 15th album, the poor-selling Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, the band parted ways with Columbia Records and began looking for a new approach.

They found it in writer/producer David Foster, who returned to an emphasis on the band's talent for power ballads as sung by Cetera. They also brought in one of Foster's favorite session musicians, Bill Champlin (born May 21, 1947, in Oakland, CA), as a full-fledged bandmember. Champlin, formerly the leader of the Sons of Champlin, was a multi-instrumentalist with a gruff voice that allowed him to sing the parts previously taken by Kath. With these additions, the band signed with Full Moon Records, an imprint of Warner Bros., and released Chicago 16 in the spring of 1982, prefaced by the single "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," which topped the charts, leading to a major comeback. The album returned Chicago to million-selling, Top Ten status. Chicago 17, released in the spring of 1984, was even more successful -- in fact, the biggest-selling album of the band's career, with platinum certifications for six million copies as of 1997. It spawned two Top Five hits, "Hard Habit to Break" and "You're the Inspiration."

The renewed success, however, changed the long-established group dynamics, thrusting Cetera out as a star. He left the band for a solo career in 1985. (Pinnick also left at about this time, and the band did not immediately bring in a new guitarist.) As Cetera's replacement, Chicago found Jason Scheff, the 23-year-old bass-playing son of famed bassist Jerry Scheff, a longtime sideman with Elvis Presley. Scheff boasted a tenor voice that allowed him to re-create Cetera's singing on many Chicago hits. The split with Cetera had a negative commercial impact, however. Despite boasting a Top Five hit single in "Will You Still Love Me?," 1986's Chicago 18 only went gold. The band recovered, however, with Chicago 19, released in the spring of 1988. Among its singles, "I Don't Want to Live Without Your Love" made the Top Five, "Look Away" topped the charts, and "You're Not Alone" made the Top Ten as the album went platinum. Another single, "What Kind of Man Would I Be?," originally found on the album, was included as part of the 1989 compilation Greatest Hits 1982-1989 (which counted as the 20th album) and became a Top Five hit, while the album sold five million copies by 1997.

At the turn of the decade, Chicago underwent two more personnel changes, with guitarist DaWayne Bailey joining and original drummer Danny Seraphine departing, to be replaced by Tris Imboden. Chicago Twenty 1, released at the start of 1991, sold disappointingly, and Warner rejected the band's next offering (though tracks from it did turn up on compilations). Chicago, however, maintained a loyal following that enabled them to tour successfully every summer. In 1995, Keith Howland replaced Bailey as Chicago's guitarist. The same year, the band regained rights to its Columbia Records catalog and established its own Chicago Records label to reissue the albums. They also signed to Giant Records, another Warner imprint, to release their 22nd album, Night & Day, a collection of big-band standards that made the Top 100. They were now able to combine hits from their Columbia and Warner years, resulting in the release of the gold-selling The Heart of Chicago 1967-1997 and its follow-up, The Heart of Chicago, Vol. 2 1967-1998 (their 23rd and 24th albums, respectively). In 1998, they released Chicago 25: The Christmas Album on Chicago Records, and they followed it in 1999 with Chicago XXVI: The Live Album. In 2002, Chicago began leasing its early albums to Rhino Records for deluxe repackagings, often with bonus tracks. And the success of The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning demonstrated that their music continued to appeal to fans. Feeding off the renewed interest, the band reappeared in 2006 with the new album Chicago XXX on Rhino. The rejected Warner album from 1993 was finally released by Rhino in 2008 as Stone of Sisyphus: XXXII.
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