Author Topic: The Chicago Discography  (Read 37007 times)

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Offline jammindude

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #35 on: July 17, 2013, 05:51:45 AM »
LOVE this thread, and I truly appreciate the hard work you're putting into this.   Having done QR and FW album discussions over at the MP forum, I know just how much time and energy it takes.  (It's more than most people might imagine)

I only own II, III, V, VII and X...and even those only on vinyl, which I don't have as much time for lately.    But I will be following these discussions very closely.   Heck, I only recently "discovered" this band myself.   Within the last 6 months??
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Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #36 on: July 17, 2013, 06:19:51 AM »
Woot!  Just got these two (and Aja)!!

Shall be jammin' in the car on the way to work soon!    :metal

Edit:  Listening to these lyrics... :'(  so nice...

Quote
As time goes on, I realize
Just what you mean to me.
And now, now that you're near,
Promise your love that I've waited to share
And dreams of our moments together.
Colour my world with hopes of loving you

A short, simple, very sweet song (obviously a slow dance groove for the kiddies of the day ;) ). I'd love to be longer but it's perfect,  really.   Beautiful,  beautiful voice!
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 07:08:47 AM by sueño »
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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #37 on: July 17, 2013, 07:52:54 AM »
LOVE this thread, and I truly appreciate the hard work you're putting into this.   Having done QR and FW album discussions over at the MP forum, I know just how much time and energy it takes.  (It's more than most people might imagine)

Thanks.  And about the time... tell me about it.  I usually set aside two hours for each installment, but these Chicago entries have taken three to three and half hours each so far.  The first one because there was all the background I wanted to get in, and this one because there's so many tracks and I like to at least say something about each one.  Fortunately, I know that it'll get easier once we get past the first live album.

Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #38 on: July 17, 2013, 07:57:34 AM »
Okay.  Do not like "Free Form Guitar".  At all.  Over seven minutes of discordance...no.   :angry:

That is all.   :tdwn
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Offline Big Hath

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #39 on: July 17, 2013, 10:23:27 AM »
Yeah that one took me a while to get into. I used to just skip the track entirely until I started really listening to what he was going for with the song.
Winger would be better!

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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #40 on: July 17, 2013, 10:46:44 AM »
To me, "Free Form Guitar" is like an abstract painting.  With most paintings, the idea is to capture something real, like a landscape or a  person or something.  Then you have abstract paintings, which I don't actually like, but the art critics go on and on about the use of color and texture, the contrast, the bold strokes, blah blah blah.  There can be artistic merit in a painting that to me just looks like someone spilled paint on the floor.

With "Free Form Guitar" there's no real rhythm or melody, no chords, no structure.  But I listen to what he's doing, how he's making the sounds, the control he has over the feedback and tooooone.  I still don't know if I like it any more than I like abstract paintings, and I wouldn't listen to stuff like this all the time, but I can appreciate the artistry in it.  It took me a long time, and I still skip it probably more often than not.  But sometimes, I'll check it out, again.

Offline Big Hath

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #41 on: July 17, 2013, 10:58:15 AM »
pretty much the same.  I'm not going to go out of my way to listen to it (not in my top 50 list), but I can appreciate it.
Winger would be better!

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Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #42 on: July 17, 2013, 11:01:19 AM »
Too much goodness!!!  I'm spinning album I again right now.

Terry Kath was definitely influenced by Hendrix in his vocal style!  I hear those intonations all over the place.  I'm thinking my favorite is Robert Lamm...but Kath's delivery of "Colour My World" is exquisite.  I truly love the harmonies all three of the leads put down.

Something else I've realized...I'm betting a lot of people didn't realize this band wasn't black at the time (fortunately, it also didn't matter so much back then  :yeahright ).  No pictures on the album covers and the sound and style of the funky music as well as the soulful vocal deliveries no doubt aided in some mighty cross-over appeal.

Kath's Guitar Stylings!!!!!    :hefdaddy :hefdaddy  It's so perfectly complementary to everything going on.  He is awesome.

And the horn section -- SO.  TIGHT!!! 
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 11:32:37 AM by sueño »
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Offline Big Hath

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #43 on: July 17, 2013, 11:23:00 AM »
hey sueno, if you like tight horns, have you listened to Tower of Power?  I don't want to derail the thread, but you should really check them out if that is your thing.
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Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #44 on: July 17, 2013, 11:31:58 AM »
hey sueno, if you like tight horns, have you listened to Tower of Power?  I don't want to derail the thread, but you should really check them out if that is your thing.

Oh.  I OWN Tower of Power, thank you very much!  ;)  Love 'em!  :D

ACK!!!! Skipping "Free Form" again....   :P
"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 The King in Crimson

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #45 on: July 17, 2013, 08:34:02 PM »
Ah, another Orbert Discog thread. Gives me that warm, christmas-y feeling. :)

I'm not very familiar with Chicago, aside from a few radio hits, but I'll follow along. I picked up their first album and I'll be giving it a proper listen soon.

Offline jammindude

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #46 on: July 17, 2013, 09:50:13 PM »
My wife got me a gift card for our anniversary...Chicago IV (Remastered)...which I've never heard...is in the mail.

Sorry to jump ahead, but I'm really excited and I can't wait to join the discussion on that album after spinning it.  :tup
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Offline Nel

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #47 on: July 17, 2013, 09:56:54 PM »
Chicago IV was at the record store two months back. I saw it and wanted it, but other releases took priority. When I finally went to get it, it was gone. And I was sad. Bought Chicago III and Hot Streets instead.

Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #48 on: July 17, 2013, 10:06:26 PM »
Ooh, bummer.  Chicago III and Hot Streets are two of my least favorite albums from the early years.

Terry Kath was definitely influenced by Hendrix in his vocal style!  I hear those intonations all over the place.  I'm thinking my favorite is Robert Lamm...but Kath's delivery of "Colour My World" is exquisite.  I truly love the harmonies all three of the leads put down.

Something else I've realized...I'm betting a lot of people didn't realize this band wasn't black at the time (fortunately, it also didn't matter so much back then  :yeahright ).  No pictures on the album covers and the sound and style of the funky music as well as the soulful vocal deliveries no doubt aided in some mighty cross-over appeal.

Kath's Guitar Stylings!!!!!    :hefdaddy :hefdaddy  It's so perfectly complementary to everything going on.  He is awesome.

You know, I've heard Terry's guitar playing compared to Jimi's, but never thought about his vocal delivery.  Obviously their voices were very different, but you're right; the way they sing has some similarity.

The album covers didn't have any pictures of the band until Chicago VI, but the first several albums were gatefolds, and the first album had photos of each band member inside.  It's the first thing you see:



Chicago had a great poster inside:



So I suppose if you didn't buy their albums, you might not know, just based on Terry voice I guess, but most people knew that they were white.

Offline Nel

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #49 on: July 17, 2013, 10:20:41 PM »
They seemed to be part of a new 2012 re-release. Up until then, I'd mainly been buying the Rhino rereleases that featured very uniform spines and backs. These featured new spines and said "remixed and remastered" on the side, and "copyright 2012" on the back. We'll get to those, though.

(Don't know what they were thinking with the Hot Streets album cover though.  :lol When I had started collecting albums back in 2006, I constantly skipped it because of that cover. And given my slight obsessive-compulsive attitude towards albums, not calling it Chicago XII irked me.)

Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #50 on: July 17, 2013, 10:29:54 PM »
It was the first album after Terry died, and they'd also made the decision to finally part ways with J.W. Guercio, their longtime manager and producer.  Having an album not named with a Roman numeral and having a silly band picture on the cover was part of their "new image".  Hey, they tried it.

Offline Nel

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #51 on: July 17, 2013, 10:37:03 PM »
Ah. Didn't even know that was the reason. Chicago's one of those bands where I like them but I never really pay attention to who's in the band, you know?  :lol Like I have my tier 1 bands where I know every member to the point that I check out all their side projects, and then tier 2 where I'll listen to all the music but never quite pay attention to the members.

Which is why I love topics like these.  :)

Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #52 on: July 17, 2013, 11:14:39 PM »
My wife got me a gift card for our anniversary...Chicago IV (Remastered)...which I've never heard...is in the mail.

Sorry to jump ahead, but I'm really excited and I can't wait to join the discussion on that album after spinning it.  :tup

Pick up the first one, if you can.  It's tremendous!
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Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #53 on: July 17, 2013, 11:39:12 PM »

So I suppose if you didn't buy their albums, you might not know, just based on Terry voice I guess, but most people knew that they were white.

Perhaps they did.  I was five years old in 1970; honestly never gave it much thought at the time.  I do know they sounded similar to other black bands - Sly and The Family Stone, f'rinstance.  And as I grew older, I recall kids who didn't like "white" music being big Chicago fans.  They bought 45s, however.  :)

Another band like that was 3 Dog Night.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #54 on: July 18, 2013, 07:46:42 AM »
I think the R&B side of Rock and Roll was a lot more prominent back then.  You could be more funky or bluesy, and those were genres more associated with blacks, right or wrong.  My favorite example of that phenomenon is Rare Earth, who I thought were black for a long time, and so did a lot of people.  They even recorded on the Motown label, which of course was based in Detroit and was strongly affiliated with black music.  They were the first, and easily most well known, white band on Motown.

My wife got me a gift card for our anniversary...Chicago IV (Remastered)...which I've never heard...is in the mail.

Sorry to jump ahead, but I'm really excited and I can't wait to join the discussion on that album after spinning it.  :tup

Oh baby.  My first album, ever (a story I know I've told here a few times already, and will again in this thread!)

With no basis for comparison, I didn't realize how different it was from most live albums, so beware; it is different.  But it's also amazing.  You're in for a treat.  Just remember to adjust your mental time machine to 1971 when you listen to it.

Offline ZirconBlue

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #55 on: July 18, 2013, 08:19:32 AM »
(Perhaps he'd recently caught Led Zeppelin's "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" or Procol Harum's "Simple Sister" -- both of which have very similar riffs -- on the radio.)


Once, when I was driving through Ohio a decade or two ago I heard, "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You", "25 or 6 to 4", and another song with the same basic riff (not the Procol Harum one, a Jeff Healey song maybe?) all in a row.

Offline Jaq

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #56 on: July 18, 2013, 08:55:41 AM »
The first Chicago album I dived into after taking the plunge with the Carnegie Hall album. While I loved the live album, it was this album that made me say "yeah, I get while old school Chicago fans hated their 80s albums." Pretty much kept repeating Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon over and over again-the horns on that in particular are amazing. Amazing album period.  :biggrin:
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Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #57 on: July 18, 2013, 11:45:08 AM »
I think the R&B side of Rock and Roll was a lot more prominent back then.  You could be more funky or bluesy, and those were genres more associated with blacks, right or wrong.  My favorite example of that phenomenon is Rare Earth, who I thought were black for a long time, and so did a lot of people.  They even recorded on the Motown label, which of course was based in Detroit and was strongly affiliated with black music.  They were the first, and easily most well known, white band on Motown.

Oh, Rare Earth -"I just want to celebrate, another day of livin',  I just want to celebrate, another day of...LIIIFFFEEE"     :metal

Another "shocker" for the time -- Average White Band.  Of course, the info is in the band name.  :P  But not only were they white... they were SCOTTISH!!!???!!!   :eek    :lol   Extremely funky tunes, great skating music. 

They got a "pass"...  ;)
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Offline Laich21DT

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #58 on: July 18, 2013, 03:05:27 PM »
Into 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've never actually listened to this whole album though. It's so darn long, I tend to throw in the towel around 25 or 6 to 4. Listening right now, and I'm on Colour My World.

Just made me wonder, why did a bunch of Americans spell it "colour"?
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Offline Laich21DT

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #59 on: July 18, 2013, 03:51:30 PM »
Well, just finished Chicago II for the first time.   :tup :tup

Really liked it Better End Soon. The lyrics aren't anything earth-shattering, but the music is awesome. Does the beginning of Where Do We Go From Here sound like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, or am I crazy?

Looking at the track-list for Chicago III, I am not familiar with any of them. I heard all of the Chicago I know from my Dad, so he must not have had that album. He hates Cetera led Chicago, and I always have too, I'm going to use this thread to try to get me into more of their albums. I know a couple songs on V, but nothing much afterwards, aside from the pop hits I'm not too fond of.
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Offline Big Hath

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #60 on: July 18, 2013, 06:37:14 PM »
I'm guessing you've probably heard "Free" and maybe "Lowdown" but just didn't know it.
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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #61 on: July 18, 2013, 06:48:37 PM »
I don't know.  I've already started my research for Chicago III and supposedly those two songs were singles and minor hits.  I don't remember hearing either of them on the radio, but I definitely remember the three singles from each of the first two albums.  I stopped at a Walgreens just a few years ago and "Lowdown" was playing on the canned music inside for some reason.  Blew me away.  I had no idea why such an obscure album track (as far as I knew) from one of Chicago's less popular albums would be playing on anyone's canned music tape.  Ha ha, I just remembered that now.  I guess now I know why.

Congrats on getting through Chicago (II), though.  And yeah, those descending chords in "Where Do We Go From Here?" are the same as the hook/intro to "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" just in a different key.  "Where Do We Go From Here?" is in D, whilst "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is in F.  It came out three years earlier, too, but I'll give Elton a pass because it's a pretty common progression.

Offline Big Hath

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #62 on: July 18, 2013, 07:07:27 PM »
Hm, well, I've listened to III quite a bit, so maybe I've just internalized the songs and it seems like everyone else should have heard them too.   :-\
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Offline Laich21DT

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #63 on: July 18, 2013, 09:21:31 PM »
Congrats on getting through Chicago (II), though.  And yeah, those descending chords in "Where Do We Go From Here?" are the same as the hook/intro to "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" just in a different key.  "Where Do We Go From Here?" is in D, whilst "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is in F.  It came out three years earlier, too, but I'll give Elton a pass because it's a pretty common progression.

Thanks, it was something I had been meaning to do for awhile. And, wow, I never thought about which song was written first, and just kind of assumed that Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was first.

I'm guessing you've probably heard "Free" and maybe "Lowdown" but just didn't know it.

I just checked those songs out on Spotify, and yeah, didn't sound familiar. Also listened to Sing A Mean Tune Kid, which was awesome.

Can't wait for the Chicago III write up.

 :hat
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Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #64 on: July 18, 2013, 09:56:26 PM »
I almost started it today, but I double-checked and the Chicago writeup was only two days ago.  I'll probably wait til this weekend sometime.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2013, 04:32:18 PM by Orbert »

Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #65 on: July 18, 2013, 10:50:29 PM »
We are eager!   ;D
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Offline Laich21DT

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #66 on: July 19, 2013, 03:35:41 PM »
Well, while we wait, let me say that I made it through Free Form Guitar yesterday, and I didn't even have to fight the urge to skip it. I basically approached it like you said, Orbert, and thought of it as an abstract painting. I will definitely check it out again sometime.

Also, let me say that I'm really glad that Robert Lamm wasn't capable of playing the keys and the bass pedals at the same time, because I really love Cetera's bass playing. Had Chicago gone the Doors route, I feel that their sound would not have been nearly as full.
I've got a plan, it involves pulling up our bootstraps, oiling up a couple of asses, and doing a little plowing of our own...... not gay sex. -Mac, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Offline Orbert

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #67 on: July 19, 2013, 04:16:34 PM »
Definitely.  Cetera is a very underrated bass player.  He's all over the place down there, especially on the earlier albums where there's a lot more jazz influence.

Offline sueño

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Re: Chicago (1970)
« Reply #68 on: July 19, 2013, 04:41:59 PM »
Definitely.  Cetera is a very underrated bass player.  He's all over the place down there, especially on the earlier albums where there's a lot more jazz influence.

I agree.  In fact, before these threads talking about Chicago, I didn't even know Cetera was a bass player.  In listening, I am diggin' his skillz.  Makes up for his whiney 80s action..  ;)
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Offline Orbert

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Chicago III (1971)
« Reply #69 on: July 20, 2013, 05:33:13 PM »
Chicago III (1971)



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

----------

Sing a Mean Tune Kid  9:18
Loneliness is Just a Word  2:38
What Else Can I Say  3:13
I Don't Want Your Money  4:47
Travel Suite
  Flight 602  2:44
  Motorboat to Mars  1:30
  Free  2:15
  Free Country  5:46
  At The Sunrise  2:48
  Happy 'Cause I'm Going Home  7:28
Mother  4:31
Lowdown  3:36
An Hour in the Shower  5:30
  A Hard Risin' Morning Without Breakfast
  Off to Work
  Fallin' Out
  Dreamin' Home
  Morning Blues Again
Elegy
  When All the Laughter Dies in Sorrow  1:03
  Canon  1:05
  Once Upon a Time...  2:34
  Progress?  2:34
  The Approaching Storm  6:26
  Man vs. Man: The End  1:33


As I mentioned upthread, the first two albums were each, in a way, eponymous.  Naming this one Chicago III made a lot of sense, as it was of course their third album, even if it was only their second since changing the name of the band to Chicago.

They also continued the concept of placing only the band logo on the cover, and letting the music speak for itself.  And it continued to speak.  The third double LP in a row, it follows a similar mold to the second album, with Side One being four "regular" songs, and each of the remaining sides dominated by multi-song suites.  The difference this time is that two of the three remaining sides were taken entirely by these suites.

"Sing a Mean Tune Kid", written by Robert Lamm and sung by Peter Cetera, starts things off and is the longest track on the album.  Four verses, with a couple of smoking horn breaks in between the third and fourth, going directly into a five-minute guitar solo.  That may not sound like much (or perhaps it does), but five minutes is a long time for a guitar solo on a studio track.  In 1971, that was still longer than most songs.  But Chicago had already shown on the first album that they could, and would, do this from time to time.

It is followed by the shortest song (of those not part of a suite), "Loneliness is Just a Word", another Lamm composition, sung by Terry Kath.  A jazz waltz featuring some tight horn work and an inspired organ solo, it seems longer than two and a half minutes.  That's a good thing, by the way.  It packs a lot of music into its length, and doesn't overstay its welcome.

"What Else Can I Say" is one of two Peter Cetera songs on the album, and has something of a country-rock feel due to the use of pedal steel guitar.  I have to admit, this is not one of my favorite Chicago songs from the early days.  The lyrics are pretty weak, and the horns are absent, as they were on Cetera's sole previous contribution, from Chicago.  It wasn't so noticeable last time, as it was a mellow song to close out the album.  Here, it seems to stand out more.  As time went on, we would see that Peter Cetera's musical leanings often went in a different direction from the rest of the band.  And it's probably petty, but it always bothered me that there's no question mark in the title.

"I Don't Want Your Money" is a rare Kath/Lamm collaboration, with music by Kath and words by Lamm.  It's another rocker, starting off with Terry mercilessly bending the strings on some minor seventh chords, and two breaks featuring guitar solos while the horns play a backdrop.

Robert Lamm's "Travel Suite" takes up all of Side Two.  It's really a collection of songs with a common theme, with a bit of musical experimentation.  "Flight 602" takes us on the road and into the mind of the traveling rock musician.  On a plane, sitting alone in a hotel room, thinking about who you are and who you're supposed to be on stage in a few hours.  An acoustic song with steel guitar and no horns, this one somehow doesn't bother me the way Cetera's song from Side One does.

In another of Chicago's rather bold moves, "Motorboat to Mars" is a drum solo by Danny Seraphine.  The entire track.  It segues directly into "Free", the only real rocker in the suite.  A driving beat, a smoking horn break, but with only a single verse and a second chorus after the break, it's over far too soon (and in fact is extended quite a bit on the live version).

"Free" segues into "Free Country", another experimental piece.  It's Lamm on piano, Parazaider on flute, and Kath on various percussion, doing some free form jazz for six minutes.  They fall into some grooves from time to time, but overall it's completely unstructured.  Interesting the first few times, but honestly, I usually skip this one.

"At the Sunrise" is a standalone song about missing her, whoever she is.  It's a nice little song, with a horn break and a constrasting B section sung by Cetera (the main vocals are by Lamm), but overall feels like filler.  She's gone, or at least she's not here right now, so this fits into the Travel Suite.

"Happy 'Cause I'm Going Home" is yet another interesting, unusual piece.  It has no words, but two verses of very happy-sounding scat in two-part harmony (Lamm and Cetera) leading into a five-minute jazz flute solo.  It and "Sing a Mean Tune Kid" are the two longest tracks on the album, bookend the first disk, and have the extended solo in common, but IMO also have the same weakness: these magnificent solos ultimately fade out.  As we'll learn on the next album, Chicago at Carnegie Hall, the band had no problem with extended jams, and no problem ending them.  Fading them out in the studio always leaves me feeling less than satisfied (probably because I knew the live versions first).

"Mother" is Mother Earth, who has given us life and nurtured us, and in return we've thrown our garbage on the ground, cut down her trees and built concrete jungles.  "Our mother has been raped, and left to die in disgrace."  It's not hard to discern the message here.  The break is a bizarre trombone duet in 5/8, and it ends with a quiet, sad trombone solo.  This Robert Lamm song is unsettling, and it's meant to be.

"Lowdown" is the other Peter Cetera song, but this one's a rocker.  It's a sibling to "Mother" with a similar message, but this time with a blazing Kath guitar solo and a killer horn break.

Terry Kath's "An Hour in the Shower" rounds out Side Three.  As I said in Big Hath's "Chicago: Top Songs Thread", at five and a half minutes total time, it's really just a slightly longer-than-usual song with some changes to it rather than an epic in five parts, but what the heck.  Terry had a great suite on the previous album but didn't label it as such, while Robert and Jimmy did theirs, so I guess I can't blame him for wanting to get in on the action.  It's almost a shame, because it's the only suite of the three that's actually a cohesive work, as the other two are clearly composed of shorter pieces with the same theme put together.  Chicago was a little "suite happy" during this period.

Side Four of the original LP was James Pankow's "Elegy".  It opens with a piece by poet Kendrew Lascelles titled "When All the Laughter Dies in Sorrow" read by Robert Lamm, and is all instrumental after that.  Kendrew Lascelles was a poet known for his environmental messages in the 70's.  John Denver recorded his piece "The Box" on his album Poems, Prayers & Promises, also from 1971.  (Don't look at me like that.  John Denver was awesome.)

"Canon" is performed by just the three horns.  A quiet, slow piece, it features some excellent arranging by Pankow that makes it sound very full and evokes a brass choir, but no, it's just the three of them.

"Once Upon a Time..." starts with a pastoral flute solo, accompanied by piano.  The trombone comes in at the break, accompanied by the other horns and the rhythm section, and it builds as it segues into "Progress?"  The two pieces together represent the natural state of the earth at first, and what man has slowly done to it.  "Progress?" has the horns trailing off into chaos and entropy, as various sound effects gradually come in, the sounds of the city.  Traffic, pneumatic drills, horns honking, police whistles.

"The Approaching Storm" is something of the centerpiece of the suite.  After the main theme is introduced by the horns, we get a round of solos, jazz style with horn breaks between each, by the trumpet, organ, sax, guitar, and trombone.  The horn section reprises the main theme, then leads into the finale, "Man vs. Man: The End" which represents increasing tensions and issues, and finally the end.

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Of the early albums, Chicago III to me is the most uneven.  The band toured extensively for the first two albums, and were very tired when they went into the studio to make this album.  The "behind the scenes" studio banter which opens and closes Side One and the ad-lib (?) screams, shouts, and other vocals during some of the more upbeat tracks almost sound like the band was trying to convince itself that it was vibrant and energetic.  I have to admit, though, that I'm almost certainly prejudiced against this album, having owned the follow-up, the live Chicago at Carnegie Hall for years before buying this one.  The live album has a lot of songs from all three albums, but it's the songs from Chicago III which are changed the most, even though they'd been playing them for a shorter amount of time.  Some are slowed down a bit, giving them more depth and gravitas.  Some have the original idea expressed in a few minutes fleshed out much more fully.  This to me indicates that the band perhaps rushed this album, and the live versions represent the "final form" of some of the songs.

This album also continued the odd phenomenon of succeeding without hit singles to boost its sales.  Initially outselling each of the first two albums, it only had "Free" (which peaked at #20) and "Lowdown" (which made it to #45) as singles.  But Chicago was an unusual band in many ways, and this might be explained by the choice of singles released.  "Beginnings" (from the first album), "Colour My World" (from Chicago), and "Questions 67 and 68" the second time (from the first album) were all released as singles, and were all hits after Chicago III was out.  It's possible, actually quite probable, that a lot of people heard these Chicago hits on the radio and bought the latest album, assuming that that was the album they were from.  With only the band logo on both the front and back covers, and no track listings, it was impossible to tell.  I'm not cynical enough to suggest that this was by design, since the covers are great an the idea was to let the music speak for itself, but it probably did contribute to the confusion.

I'm already planning a separate post that gets into the whole mess surrounding the early Chicago singles, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime... discuss!
« Last Edit: July 17, 2015, 10:49:06 AM by Orbert »