Author Topic: The Chicago Discography  (Read 34670 times)

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Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago V (1972)
« Reply #105 on: August 09, 2013, 02:25:20 PM »
Just bought Chicago V

Shall be groovin' in the car on the way home tonight!  :)
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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago V (1972)
« Reply #106 on: August 09, 2013, 02:31:41 PM »
Very cool! :tup

Be sure to let us know your impressions.  And as always, try not to let the hype lead to disappointment.  I love it, but I've seen many copies of it in used LP and CD stores.

Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago V (1972)
« Reply #107 on: August 09, 2013, 04:48:42 PM »
"Listen children, all is not lost -- all is not lossstttt"!    :hat

God, I love that song so much.

Can you dig it?
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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago V (1972)
« Reply #108 on: August 09, 2013, 04:54:55 PM »
Yes I can!

Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago V (1972)
« Reply #109 on: August 09, 2013, 05:01:50 PM »
"We spend most of our lives convinced we’re the protagonist of the story, but we rarely realize that we’re just supporting characters in everybody else’s story. Nobody thinks about you as much as you do."

Offline Orbert

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Chicago Live in Japan (1972)
« Reply #110 on: August 11, 2013, 11:22:32 AM »
Chicago Live in Japan (1972)



Peter Cetera - Bass, Vocals
Terry Kath - Guitar, Vocals
Robert Lamm - Keyboards, Vocals
Lee Loughnane - Trumpet, Background Vocals, Percussion
James Pankow - Trombone, Percussion
Walt Parazaider - Woodwinds, Percussion
Danny Seraphine - Drums, Percussion

----------

Dialogue (Parts I & II)
A Hit by Varèse
Lowdown
State of the Union
Saturday in the Park
Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon
  Make Me Smile
  So Much to Say, So Much to Give
  Anxiety's Moment
  West Virginia Fantasies
  Colour My World
  To Be Free
  Now More Than Ever
Beginnings
Mississippi Delta City Blues
A Song for Richard and His Friends
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? (Free Form Intro)
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
Questions 67 & 68
25 or 6 to 4
I'm a Man
Free

----------

Originally, I wasn't going to include this album in the Discography, for a few reasons.  It was originally only released in Japan, and not until 1975.  It was only after Chicago started their own label, Chicago Records, and bought back their catalogue from Columbia in the 90's that this album was finally released in the United States.  It has no number in the Chicago canon, but as it was recorded on the 1972 tour in support of Chicago V, it would be "Chicago Five and a Half".  It was originally a double LP and is now a double CD, but out of print.

Ultimately, I decided to include it, not just for completeness, but because it is very different from the official live album Chicago at Carnegie Hall, and many fans and members of Chicago prefer this album to it.  The sound quality is somewhat better, and rather than the quiet, sacred mecca of classical music known as Carnegie Hall, we have a screaming, enthusiastic Japanese audience, making this album much more like a "regular" live album, by rock standards.

Chicago at Carnegie Hall is often derided for its performances; critics say that they're flat and emotionless, too close to the studio versions.  While I don't agree with that assessment, there's no question that the energy level on Chicago Live in Japan is very high, and there's a great feedback between the band and the audience.  They open with "Dialogue" and as soon as Terry starts the guitar riff, the audience claps along and continues clapping rhythmically through the entire song.  I do like getting live versions of a lot of Chicago V songs.

A nice surprise is the original early version of "Mississippi Delta City Blues" which Terry Kath wrote for Chicago V but which didn't appear on a studio album until Chicago XI.  The version of "A Song for Richard and His Friends" here doesn't include the first "war scene".  That's mostly okay, but it also means that the interesting horn work leading into it is also missing.

And just for added fun, "Lowdown" and "Questions 67 & 68" are both sung in Japanese.  Peter Cetera learned to sing them phonetically, and Robert Lamm even does his harmonies and backgrounds in Japanese.

What's missing are the extended jazz guitar solos by the quartet which IMO characterize the early Chicago concert experience.  Robert's piano intro to "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" is included, however, and it's a doozy, with him strumming and banging the strings inside the piano and in general offerring a very different solo from Chicago at Carnegie Hall.

At first, I didn't really care for this album, because it was so different from the official live album which I'd literally grown up with, but it's growing on me.  There's no denying the energy, sometimes taking some priority over the tightness of the performances, but never to a negative degree.  It's just a very different take on the early Chicago live concert experience, and... for completeness, I suppose... it really needs to be heard by fans of early Chicago, and included here in the Discography.  If you can find a copy, it's definitely worth checking out.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2015, 10:53:38 AM by Orbert »

Offline sirbradford117

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Re: Chicago Live in Japan (1972)
« Reply #111 on: August 11, 2013, 12:43:39 PM »
I was lucky enough to find this on vinyl (the original Japanese import, NM condition) at a garage sale many years ago.  Thanks for including it in your writeup!
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Online Big Hath

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Re: Chicago Live in Japan (1972)
« Reply #112 on: August 11, 2013, 12:55:46 PM »
I've only heard bits and pieces of this one.  By the time it was finally released in the US, I was moving on to other bands.  And all my money was going toward school around that time.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago Live in Japan (1972)
« Reply #113 on: August 11, 2013, 03:10:23 PM »
I was lucky enough to find this on vinyl (the original Japanese import, NM condition) at a garage sale many years ago. 

I've only heard bits and pieces of this one. 

I'm still interested in your impressions, both of you, especially since this one's so rare.  I put very little faith in what professional rock critics say, and bands members are generally not in the best position to critique their own work.

Offline sirbradford117

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Re: Chicago Live in Japan (1972)
« Reply #114 on: August 11, 2013, 05:18:21 PM »
I think it's a great live album.  While I own the Carnegie album as well (and enjoy it), I do not have your expertise on it.  Certainly I had never really noticed the classical-concert vibe as opposed to the standard rock-show environment.  Being classically trained myself, that concert-hall feeling appeals to me greatly, and I really enjoyed my last listen to the Carnegie album.

Live in Japan, if I recall, is just more concise and with MUCH better sound quality.  I really enjoy the newer tracks "Dialogue," "Varese," "State of the Union" and "Mississippi Delta City Blues"... probably my favorite tracks on the album.  So the rest I regard as about the same, just with better sound quality and from a different tour.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago Live in Japan (1972)
« Reply #115 on: August 11, 2013, 05:58:41 PM »
Cool.  :tup  Those are the kind of remarks I was hoping for.

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Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #116 on: August 12, 2013, 11:10:57 PM »
Chicago VI (1973)



Peter Cetera - Bass, Vocals, Harmonica (?)
Terry Kath - Guitar, Vocals
Robert Lamm - Keyboards, Vocals
Lee Loughnane - Trumpet, Background Vocals, Percussion
James Pankow - Trombone, Percussion
Walt Parazaider - Woodwinds, Percussion
Danny Seraphine - Drums, Percussion

Additional Musicians:

Loudir Soares De Oliveira - Congas
Joe Lala - Congas
J.G. O'Rafferty - Pedal Steel Guitar

----------

Critic's Choice  2:49
Just You 'N' Me  3:42
Darlin' Dear  2:56
Jenny  3:31
What's This World Comin' To  4:58
Something in This City Changes People  3:42
Hollywood  3:52
In Terms of Two  3:29
Rediscovery  4:47
Feelin' Stronger Every Day  4:15

----------

Chicago VI was, in many ways, a turning point for the band.  With the huge success of Chicago V, their first album to reach #1, there was perhaps some temptation to take the formula further.  The songs continued to get shorter, less adventurous, more pop and less prog.  This would have been fine, except that fans and band members alike generally agree that the material on this album was not as strong as on Chicago V, or any previous album for that matter.  This is Chicago's shortest album, clocking in at just under 38 minutes total time, with ten songs total.

It is a mellow, introspective album, much like Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here or Genesis' Wind & Wuthering, which also followed huge, breakthrough albums (Dark Side of the Moon and A Trick of the Tail, respectively).  Robert Lamm wrote five of the ten songs, and each of them is basically voice and piano, although most have at least some embellishment (that is to say, some do not).  Four of the ten songs have no horns at all, and two have the horns in a supporting role only (no true horn break).  This left a lot of listeners wondering what happened, especially since the horns were all over the previous album.

To be fair, this isn't a bad album; it just had a very high standard to live up to.  Chicago VI did go to #1, buoyed by two Top Ten hits and probably the strength of the previous album as well.  It was Gold within a month of release and eventually went Double Platinum.

"Critic's Choice" is a Robert Lamm solo piece, just voice and piano.  It is addressed to all the professional rock critics who, despite Chicago's continued success, including a #1 album, continued to find bad things to say about them.  It ends with a "Big C" on the piano.

"Just You 'N' Me" is a James Pankow composition sung by Peter Cetera.  It eventually reached #4 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart.  It's a step up from the opening piece, but still pretty mellow, though it does feature a great horn break and a fine Soprano Sax solo by Walt Parazaider.

"Darlin' Dear" is the first real rocker on the album, with Lamm's piano grabbing you from the start, leading into a blues-shuffle.  The horns come swaggering in, countering the melody and providing the backdrop for Terry Kath's smoldering guitar solo.  At only three minutes, however, you're just getting into it when the song is suddenly over.

"Jenny" is Terry Kath's contribution, another mellow song with no horns.  The guitar work, including the clean electric solo, is all excellent.  Danny Seraphine's drum work is masterful, explosive yet understated.

"What's This World Comin' To" is another James Pankow song, a great uptempo rocker featuring round-robin vocals by the three lead singers.  Robert and Peter split the first verse, Terry and Robert split the second, and Terry and Peter split the third.  The chorus each time has Terry and Peter alternating lines.  At just under five minutes, it is the longest song on the album, and a full minute and a half of that is the jam at the end featuring a rare Lamm organ solo over the horns and guitar.

Robert Lamm's "Something in This City Changes People" originally opened Side Two, once again starting things mellow with just voice and piano.  The bass, drums, and guitar come in during the verse, which is sung in three-part harmony.  Actually, the entire song is sung in three-part harmony, save for a descant line by Lamm.  The break is a wistful scat by Peter, reprised at the end by an Alto Flute solo.  A very nice though slightly unusual song.

"Hollywood" is another introspective Lamm song.  It picks up a bit in the middle and continues to build, and there's some nice horn work throughout.

Peter Cetera's country-flavored "In Terms of Two" is next, starting off with a harmonica hook and featuring some tasty steel guitar work by session man J.G. O'Rafferty.

"Rediscovery" is the final Robert Lamm song on the album, once again primarily a voice and piano piece although technically it's performed by the full band.  It speaks of the need to regroup, get away from things, and rediscover what's really important.

"Feelin' Stronger Every Day" was the other hit, peaking at #10 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart.  It was co-written by James Pankow and Peter Cetera, and sung by Peter Cetera.  The album finishes on a high note, an uptempo song.

----------

In case you couldn't tell, I had some trouble finding positive things to say about this album and the individual songs on it.  And that's just plain unfortunate.  This isn't a bad album; I actually like it a lot, and most of the songs are really good.  It's just that it's so mellow overall, especially following the blazing hot Chicago V, that it feels weaker than it really is.

A good album has some variety to it.  There are the heavy/upbeat songs, a mellow one here or there, and most somewhere in between.  Once a band has several albums out, and you look their catalogue and the albums within it, you can usually see a similar breakdown.  Each album has its own character, some are heavier overall and some are lighter.  This is the mellow one in the Chicago early catalogue, the breather between the breakthrough Chicago V and the epic Chicago VII.

Chicago VI was the first album with a picture of the band on the cover, though it was worked into the overall design which featured, as always, the Chicago logo.  It was also the first album to have additional players on it.  J.G. O'Rafferty's steel guitar is perfect for Peter's song, but the decision to add outside percussionists was an interesting one, especially since the horn players had always played Latin percussion in the past, and this album had the least amount of horn work of any so far.  As it turns out, Laudir De Oliveira would appear on Chicago VII as well, and finally become the eighth member of the band on Chicago VIII.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2015, 10:54:19 AM by Orbert »

Online Big Hath

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Re: Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #117 on: August 12, 2013, 11:30:48 PM »
This is also the first of 5 albums the band recorded at Guercio's "Caribou" ranch/studio.  Previously, they had worked almost exclusively in New York.  Being outside the hustle and bustle of the city and in all that nature and quiet had the guys going a little stir crazy.  That may have played into the mellowness of the album.

I had Just You 'N Me at #9 in my songs list.  But I never was a huge fan of Feelin' Stronger.  Unfortunately, this album doesn't have a lot of memorable sections that really stick out to me other than those two hits.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #118 on: August 13, 2013, 07:48:29 AM »
I knew that this was the first one at The Caribou, but was surprised to read that they'd previously worked in New York.  I thought they'd recorded the early albums in Los Angeles.  "South California Purples", "Hollywood", that line from "Goodbye" ("feels so good to be soaring, 'cause L.A. was so boring"), what were those all about, if not about living in southern California?

I agree about "Feelin' Stronger Every Day".  A good song, but not really a favorite.  I've never been a big fan of "two-part" songs, including this one.  It seemed pretty obvious that Pankow wrote the first part and Cetera wrote the second, although I could be wrong.  It may have been more collaborative throughout.

I know what you mean about the album lacking truly memorable moments, since it's all so low-key, but I've always liked "What's This World Comin' To" (although it's always bugged me that there's no question mark in the title, as with "What Else Can I Say").  The verses with alternating vocals, the smoking horns, and the jam at the end are all great.  Also the piano work in "Darlin' Dear" is pretty hot.

I've come to accept this one as "the mellow one".  I can understand people being underwhelmed by it, but I still put this one on when I feel like some mellow Chicago.

Online Big Hath

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Re: Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #119 on: August 13, 2013, 08:06:04 AM »
for the earlier albums, my understanding is the band had moved their base of operations, so to speak, to L.A. where they did some/most of their writing, but when it came time to record, they flew back to Columbia's studios in New York.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #120 on: August 13, 2013, 09:27:48 AM »
Ah, got it.  That makes sense.

The more I think about it, the more your point about recording at The Caribou Ranch being reflected in the music also makes sense.  After the hustle and bustle of Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, holing up in the Rockies to write and record an album must've been quite a change.  Very quiet, very peaceful, and I'm sure quite beautiful.  The result was a lot of mellow, introspective songs.  "Rediscovery" specifically mentions "this mountain majesty".

Offline Unlegit

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Re: Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #121 on: August 13, 2013, 11:21:39 AM »
Surprising that Feelin' Stronger Every Day isn't a huge favorite here. Personally, it's one of my favorite Chicago songs, especially the 2nd part of the song.

I agree with the mellow statements about this album though; it's definitely not incredibly rocked out.

Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #122 on: August 13, 2013, 03:19:07 PM »
thanks for your hard work on this, orbert!  your musical taste is sublime.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #123 on: August 13, 2013, 05:18:13 PM »
Thanks!  I can never remember what the word "sublime" means, but I think it's good, so thanks.  :)

In the Country is probably my favorite Chicago song. I love the guitar all throughout, and just the overall feel of it. The ending, where the guitar plays that repeating line, and the horns descend, is awesome.

I meant to comment on this, but forgot.  "In the Country" is one of my favorites as well.  I even had a dream once that I was on stage with Chicago, playing that song with them.

Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #124 on: August 13, 2013, 11:17:17 PM »
Sublime - Of such excellence, grandeur, or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe.   :biggrin:  Well, that's a bit much, but you're doin' good!   :tup

Orbert,  I just wanna really say thanks for this thread.  I now own I, II and V (so funkay!) with Carnegie Hall pending.  I didn't know how much I loved this music.  It was music of my childhood, wonderful summers and reminds me of a friend once very dear.  None of those I'll get back, but the memories are...good.

I will be scarce around here (cutting back on internet; must read more), but I've learned a lot from you..and other contributors.  So much music and film!.  Thanks for letting me hang.  I've enjoyed "The Dialogue".   ;)

Ciao..

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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #125 on: August 14, 2013, 07:39:50 AM »
Chicago is good stuff, especially the older stuff, and I'm just doing what I can to get more people into it.  I'm not sure why, but it's important to me.  Feel free to drop in anytime!

Online Podaar

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Re: Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #126 on: August 14, 2013, 09:03:21 AM »
I haven't piped up during the course of this thread but I've been following along with Spotify and have really enjoyed it. I also appreciate the great work and insight you (and Big Hath) have provided. So far I've added Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago, and Chicago V to my Amazon wish list. My children like to pick items from the wish list for presents and my birthday is this Saturday, so, you never know  ;).

I've jumped a little ahead and listened to VII and VIII...uuum. I think their discography from here on out is going to lose my interest. :D

Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #127 on: August 14, 2013, 10:06:29 AM »
I think VII is pretty killer, but different.  VIII is similar to VI in that the songs are generally pretty straightforward, but overall I think they're stronger than VI.  But yeah, they'd already turned the corner at this point.  The music business was changing, and the initial creative surge that gave us those first several masterpieces was spent.  That's another reason why I hesitated to do this Discography.  It seems almost pointless when the band was clearly past their prime only 1/4 of the way into their career.

But there are people who prefer, or at least like, the later material, and I needed an excuse to dig into it more.  Heck, I have it all; might as well get something out of it, right?

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Re: Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #128 on: August 14, 2013, 10:32:38 AM »
I think VII is pretty killer, but different.

Yea, I should have qualified my earlier statement with, "I really dig the first half of the album with all the Jazz and fusion work."

But there are people who prefer, or at least like, the later material, and I needed an excuse to dig into it more.  Heck, I have it all; might as well get something out of it, right?

Indeed. I look forward to your take on the subject.

Online Big Hath

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Re: Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #129 on: August 14, 2013, 10:36:06 AM »
This was always one of my favorite cover designs.  Not because of the band photo, but the exquisite "currency" look.  But it is also one of the first times I saw what the band looked like (at the time of this album at least) and I was surprised at the music coming from guys that looked this "rough".
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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago VI (1973)
« Reply #130 on: August 14, 2013, 11:16:53 AM »
They do look pretty shaggy, don't they?  Having seen many earlier pictures of them, I knew what they "really" looked like, and basically attributed this look to where they were at the time.  They were in the Rocky Mountains in the winter, so their hair is all grown out and they're wearing winter coats.  It is an interesting choice, though, for their first-ever picture on an album cover.

I never realized that this design was meant to resemble currency until doing the research for this one.  I always liked the design, but it always seemed to me to be just that, a design.  Maybe even extra fancy to help distract from the band picture, and because previous designs were so simple.  But some place I found referred to it as "the dollar bill design" and you refer to the "currency" look of it, and that makes sense.  Maybe if it was green instead of blue, I would've seen it right away, who knows?

Offline Orbert

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Chicago VII (1974)
« Reply #131 on: August 16, 2013, 10:12:29 PM »
Chicago VII (1974)



Peter Cetera - Bass, Vocals
Terry Kath - Guitar, Vocals
Robert Lamm - Keyboards, Vocals
Lee Loughnane - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Vocals
James Pankow - Trombone
Walt Parazaider - Woodwinds
Danny Seraphine - Drums, Percussion

Additional Musicians:

(lots)

----------

Prelude to Aire (Seraphine)  2:47
Aire (Pankow/Parazaider/Seraphine)  6:27
Devil's Sweet (Parazaider/Seraphine)  10:07

Italian From New York (Lamm)  4:14
Hanky Panky (Lamm)  1:53
Life Saver (Lamm)  5:18
Happy Man (Cetera)  3:34

(I've Been) Searchin' So Long (Pankow)  4:29
Mongonucleosis (Pankow)  3:26
Song of the Evergreens (Kath)  5:20
Byblos (Kath)  6:18

Wishing You Were Here (Cetera)  4:37
Call on Me (Loughnane)  4:02
Woman Don't Want to Love Me (Lamm)  4:35
Skinny Boy (Lamm)  5:12

----------

Chicago V and Chicago VI were not only shorter albums, but the songs themselves were shorter, and simpler.  With the concert sets becoming more about playing songs (especially their ever-growing list of hits) and less about showcasing the band itself, Chicago became restless and started working some jazzy instrumentals into their live sets.  Audience reactions were mixed, but the band loved it and decided that it was finally time to record the full-on jazz album that they'd talked about for years.

The problem was that not everyone was on board with this idea, most notably their manager/producer J.W. Guercio.  So a compromise was reached.  Chicago VII would be a double LP, allowing the band to include the jazzy, semi-improvised instrumentals they'd been working on, as well as the "regular" songs they'd been writing in the meantime.

As always, writing credits were included (although this is the first time I've included them here), and one of the first things I noticed is that all seven members of Chicago have writing credits.  My ritual was always to put the new album on, then carefully read through all credits and liner notes while listening to it.  In keeping with the jazz concept, individual credits were included for each song, and by time I'd finished reading through everything, the first side was over, and I hadn't heard any vocals yet.  At the time, I was unaware of the background of this album, but I was loving the results.

Side One starts with a short piece called "Prelude to Aire" featuring Walt Parazaider on flute.  The only other players are Danny Seraphine on drums, Laudir DeOliveira on percussion, and Robert Lamm on Mellotron.  "Prelude to Aire" of course leads into "Aire", a terrific instrumental by all eight players (including Laudir DeOliveira, who plays on 14 of the 15 tracks and was essentially the eighth member of Chicago at this point).  "Devil's Sweet" completes the first side, featuring the whole band plus David J. "Hawk" Wolinski on synthesizer.  There are numerous guest musicians and vocalists on this album, again something very common in jazz, and embraced here by the band.

Side Two opens with some weird synth sounds (think "Money" by Pink Floyd, only all synth and less rhythmic) courtesy of Robert Lamm, fully embracing his new status as a "real" keyboard player.  (He'd played only piano and organ prior to this album.)  The first three songs on the side segue.  "Italian from New York" is dominated by Terry Kath's guitar solo, with the horns backing him up, "Hanky Panky" is a jazz trombone solo framed by some big-band horn work, and "Lifesaver" completes the suite.  "Lifesaver" takes its time building, and when Lamm's vocals finally enter, halfway through Side Two, it's almost shocking.  Everything has been instrumental thus far.  Also, the song is about being "saved" by a telephone call from far across the sea, and Lamm's vocals are processed to sound like he's on the phone long-distance.

Peter Cetera's "Happy Man" finishes the side and also the first disk.  As with many of Cetera's songs, there are no horns, although this is a mellow acoustic song and they'd be out of place anyway.  Producer J.W. Guercio plays acoustic guitar, Terry Kath plays bass, and Robert Lamm plays electric piano.  Danny Seraphine, Laudir DeOliveira, and Guille Garcia provide the percussion.

Side Three opens with a pair of James Pankow tunes, the hit "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long" which made it to #9 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart, seguing into the salsa-flavored instrumental "Mongonucleosis".  Okay, it's not quite an instrumental; there's a single vocal line ("Que pe chesa?") which is repeated a few times.  I have no idea what it means.

We then get the two Terry Kath songs, two of my absolute favorites from him.  The beautiful "Song of the Evergreens" marks Lee Loughnane's debut as lead vocalist.  His voice is similar to Terry's upper range, which I suppose makes sense since Terry tends to write songs for his own voice.  Next is "Byblos", named after a club in Japan where Chicago had played.  Both songs start quietly and slowly build, but whereas "Song of the Evergreens" finally bursts forth into full-on rock and roll, "Byblos" rises to a simmer, not quite a full boil, and holds the tension at that point.  Terry plays guitars and percussion, J.W. Guercio plays bass, and David J. ("Hawk") Wolinski plays piano.  Different of course, but Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera provide background vocals, along with Terry and Lee, so it's not like they were snubbed from this track.  Danny Seraphine plays drums.

Side Four opens with the other two hits from this album, "Wishing You Were Here" and "Call On Me".  Written following a combined tour by the two bands, "Wishing You Were Here" features The Beach Boys (Al Jardine, Carl Wilson, and Dennis Wilson) on background vocals.  It reached #11 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart but went all the way to #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

"Call On Me" is Lee Loughnane's debut as a writer, and he scores a hit.  "Call On Me" also reached #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and peaked at #9 on the Pop Singles chart.  It features one of the last great Chicago horn breaks, embellished by some nice Latin percussion by Laudir DeOliveira and Guille Garcia.

The album closes with two more Robert Lamm compositions.  "Woman Don't Want to Love Me" is a dirty, funky song with Lamm on Clavinet and sung by Peter Cetera.  It's the only track on the entire album played by the original seven members and only the original seven.  One of the highlights of the album in my opinion, the break features some great guitar work by Terry Kath backed by the horn section.  The horns and guitar actually play off of each other, going back and forth a few times in a brilliant section that's part improv and part scored.

The last song is also the title track from the solo album that Robert Lamm was working on at the time, "Skinny Boy".  It's a Rhythm & Blues tune featuring The Pointer Sisters on vocals (along with Robert himself).

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Chicago VII was the last real masterpiece by the band, but what a masterpiece it was.  J.W. Guercio let them run free one last time.  The jazzy, funky instrumentals, the longer songs, the trumpet player on lead vocals, the Latin percussion, Robert's solo tune...  The experimentation was back, if only for one last hurrah.  And with three Top 10 hits, it was their third album in a row to reach #1 on the charts, going Gold a week after its release.

I know some people who, back in the LP days, never listened to the first disk.  I'm pretty sure I listened to the first disk more than the second, though the second disk is great as well.  On CD, I just let it play.  The sequencing and structure of the album are both perfect.  I love the instrumentals and I love the songs.

The cover, as always, features the Chicago logo designed by John Berg and realized by Nick Fasciano.  This time, it's embossed leather, celebrating four things associated with the city of Chicago: the railroads (Chicago was and is the rail center of the nation), the famous Chicago Stockyards, the Great Chicago Fire, and The Chicago World's Fair.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2015, 10:55:22 AM by Orbert »

Offline Nel

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Re: Chicago VII (1974)
« Reply #132 on: August 16, 2013, 11:03:40 PM »
I remember loving Devil's Sweet the one time I heard it.

Online Big Hath

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Re: Chicago VII (1974)
« Reply #133 on: August 16, 2013, 11:12:01 PM »
this album is all over the place, in a good way.  Really diverse blend of styles.  6 songs made it to my top 50.

Cetera said he always wanted to be a Beatle or Beach Boy and he got his wish somewhat here.  I believe Guercio had become the Beach Boys manager shortly before VII and I'm sure that helped with the collaboration and also the huge "Beachago" tour the following summer.

Life Saver is a weird little song.  Starts out as something like R&B, then when the horns come in, it completely changes into some kind of tin pan alley/vaudeville show tune.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago VII (1974)
« Reply #134 on: August 17, 2013, 02:08:33 PM »
I guess I had the timing wrong.  I thought that The Beach Boys appearing on Chicago VII was a result of discussions they had during the tour together.

I agree about "Life Saver".  It's an oddball song.  But Lamm has shown many times that he doesn't stick to conventional song structures.  Actually, when I first listened to the album, I'd lost track of where I was, and when the horns came in, I thought it was "Hanky Panky".  Something about the style said "Hanky Panky" to me.

Have you heard the early version of "Byblos"?  It's different.  I like the final form much better, though that might be mostly because I'm so used to it.  I don't think it works as well as an uptempo, manic song.  I like the way it's laid back, yet somehow very intense, in the final version.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2015, 09:07:56 PM by Orbert »

Online Big Hath

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Re: Chicago VII (1974)
« Reply #135 on: August 17, 2013, 11:08:55 PM »
Ha, yeah, if not for the lyrics, Hanky Panky would be a good titel for it.

For Byblos, are you talking about the one labelled "rehearsal"?  Yeah, it is much more up tempo with Seraphine going crazy on the cymbals and drums and a much more lively guitar riff.  The song definitely works better as the laid back ballad.
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Offline Orbert

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Chicago VIII (1975)
« Reply #136 on: August 19, 2013, 09:35:13 PM »
Chicago VIII (1975)



Peter Cetera - Bass, Vocals
Terry Kath - Guitar, Vocals
Robert Lamm - Keyboards, Vocals
Lee Loughnane - Trumpet, Vocals
James Pankow - Trombone
Walt Parazaider - Woodwinds
Danny Seraphine - Drums
Laudir de Oliveira - Percussion

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Anyway You Want (Cetera)  3:37
Brand New Love Affair (Pankow)  4:28
  Part I
  Part II
Never Been in Love Before (Lamm)  4:10
Hideaway (Cetera)  4:44
Till We Meet Again (Kath)  2:03
Harry Truman (Lamm)  3:01
Oh, Thank You Great Spirit (Kath)  7:19
Long Time No See (Lamm)  2:46
Ain't It Blue? (Lamm)  3:26
Old Days (Pankow)  3:31

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I remember being disappointed when I first picked this one up in the record store in 1975.  Right or wrong, fair or unfair, an album's packaging says something about its contents.  Every Chicago album prior to this had been a gatefold, a jacket that "opened up".  The only exception was the live album, which was a four-LP box set.  You could hardly accuse them of being cheap with the packaging for that one.  Even the two single LPs were gatefolds.  Chicago VIII was the first album by Chicago that didn't "open up".  To me, this indicated that the record company did not see fit to invest in deluxe packaging, a sure sign that the band did not have the unconditional support of the label that they once had.

This is actually somewhat confusing, since Chicago VII did very well, reaching #1, spawning three hit singles and spending a long time on the charts.  It was actually still in the Billboard Top 200 when Chicago VIII was done and ready to be released.  They issued "Harry Truman" as the advance single (a rare move for Chicago) to give Chicago VII a little more time to shine.

It's another "regular" album, as they all would be from this point forward.  Eleven songs... no, ten.  They've listed "Brand New Love Affair - Part I" and "Brand New Love Affair - Part II" separately on the sleeve, even though they segue, are actually a single track on the record, and only total four and a half minutes anyway.  At 39:28 total time, it's a step up from Chicago VI, but still one of the shorter Chicago albums.

It did reach #1 on the Billboard album chart, knocking out Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffitti (speaking of elaborate packaging), and making four #1 albums in a row for Chicago.

Don't get me wrong; Chicago VIII is not a bad album.  Remember, there are no truly bad albums from the original band.  It rocks out quite a few times, definitely giving it an edge over the mellow Chicago VI.  The biggest hit from the album, "Old Days", starts with actual power chords courtesy of Mr. Kath, one of the only Chicago songs to do so.  "Old Days" made it to #5.  "Brand New Love Affair, Pt I & II" topped out at #61.  The advance single, "Harry Truman", got up to #13.  I also remember hearing "Ain't It Blue" on the radio a few times, though apparently it didn't chart.

"Anyway You Want" is a shuffle, but it's a rare Cetera song with horns, and they even take a break, following a guitar break by Terry Kath.  It's a good choice for an album opener.

"Brand New Love Affair, Parts I & II" is not as bad as some make it sound.  Sure, "Part I" is a smooth, sappy love song crooned by Terry.  But he does it so well, and it's really a beautiful song.  "Part II" lets it rip, with Peter Cetera actually getting a bit rough on lead vocals, and the horn break is one of my favorites of any Chicago song.

"Never Been in Love Before" is yet another Cetera-led song, even though it was written by Robert Lamm.  The third track on the album (or fourth, depending on how you count), this is the latest we've ever had to wait before getting a Lamm song.  It's another love song, not too mellow, with a horn break that moves things along nicely.

"Hideaway" is the other Cetera song, and this one's a straight-out rocker.  Guitar, bass, drums, and Hammond organ (no horns), and Peter doing his best to really get down and dirty.  Unfortunately, while the song has a good sound, it's about as interesting as a good bar band might write.  Not horrible, just nothing special.

"Till We Meet Again" is a short song, just voice and acoustic guitar (multi-tracked).  It starts with the sounds of a music box being wound up, emphasizing the brevity of the piece.  It's nice, actually goes through some changes in its brief span, and doesn't overstay its welcome.

Side Two opens with "Harry Truman" which was, as mentioned, the advance single.  A Robert Lamm piece starting with piano chords a la "Saturday in the Park", it's a call to our departed president to please come back.  We need someone like Harry Truman today.  A man known for his plain speaking and not even trying to please everyone, just doing his job (which he inherited when President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office) the best he knew how, which ultimately included dropping a few atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II.

"Oh, Thank You Great Spirit", at a little over seven minutes, is the longest track on the album.  Terry's homage to Jimi Hendrix, it starts with a strange, dreamlike recitation, a brief sung verse, then takes off into a smoking guitar solo.

"Long Time No See" is another Lamm tune, an uptempo rocker again starting with the piano.  It has a great break with the horns and guitar doing something that sounds like a 70's movie or TV crime show theme.  It always reminds of "Theme from Shaft" or "Streets of San Francisco".  Well, it was the 70's.

"Ain't It Blue?" is a heavy, bluesy rocker, with Terry and Peter alternating lines on the lead vocals.  It swaggers along with the horns, and takes two breaks!

"Old Days", James Pankow's trip down memory lane, closes out the album.  Being a Pankow tune, it of course has a horn break, and it's a good one.  The slow fade at the end seems an appropriate end to the album.

----------

I was worried when I opened this one up for the first time.  Basic packaging, and ten songs mostly in the three-to-four-minute range.  But Chicago VIII did not disappoint overall.  If the initial creative burst that gave us all those great studio albums was spent and Chicago was now down to "regular" albums, then at least we got a good one.  It's different; you listen to it and you can practically hear the times changing, but at least they rock out and don't disapoint.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2015, 10:55:41 AM by Orbert »

Online Big Hath

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Re: Chicago VIII (1975)
« Reply #137 on: August 20, 2013, 08:20:52 AM »
I've got to be honest, I rate this album pretty low.  I really only have it above Hot Streets from the 70's output.  But, I also haven't listened to it very much so I should probably give it another chance.  Old Days was the only song that made my top 50 list, and I remember the horns sounding really good on that song.

I was never enamored with the cover on this one when I was first getting into the band, so that probably plays into why I've never listened to it much.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago VIII (1975)
« Reply #138 on: August 20, 2013, 09:23:56 AM »
Really?  I love the cover.  It doesn't look like a rendering, and Photoshop of course didn't exist back then.  It looks to me like they actually made the patch and took a picture of it.  I always wanted one of those patches.  And I always wanted a denim jacket to put patches on.  The iron-on included in the album was cool, but the T-shirt I put it on eventually wore out and went away.  Also, cardinals are badass.

The horns sound great on this album.  They're only on six of the tracks, though, which is disappointing.  Peter always felt that they were optional, Terry was getting away from them, and even Robert didn't always use them.  James is the only one who consistently used the horn section, for obvious reasons.  But when they're there, they rock.

I can see how this one can be overlooked or underrated.  It does have its weaknesses, same as VI, X, and even XI.

Online Big Hath

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Re: Chicago VIII (1975)
« Reply #139 on: August 20, 2013, 09:44:44 AM »
I think I was born a little too late to want patches for a denim jacket.  I seem to remember my older brother having some of those.
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