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Rock - Released July 16, 2002 | Rhino

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Rock - Released July 16, 2002 | Rhino

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Rock - Released June 11, 2013 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released June 4, 2013 | Rhino

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Pop - Released July 2, 2002 | Rhino

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Rock - Released January 27, 2017 | Rhino

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Rock - Released February 25, 2003 | Rhino

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. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Rock - Released October 26, 2018 | Rhino

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Rock - Released March 26, 2013 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released July 10, 2015 | Rhino

Rhino's 2012 box set The Studio Albums 1969-1978 rounds up their remasters of what many consider Chicago's golden period: the band's first ten albums. Every one of the albums from 1969's Chicago Transit Authority to 1978's Hot Streets is here, packaged as paper-sleeve mini-LPs. For hardcore fans, this is a handsome way to get the remasters, and for more casual fans, it's a convenient and relatively affordable way to get the best albums of Chicago in one place. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released July 16, 2002 | Rhino

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. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Rock - Released August 19, 2002 | Rhino

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 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. 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" effectively 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 the 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). Some reissues of Chicago V included among its supplemental materials an eight-plus minute instrumental studio version of the track. Also featured as "bonus selections" were 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."] ~ Lindsay Planer
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Rock - Released July 12, 2002 | Rhino

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 backing 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. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Rock - Released April 21, 2003 | Rhino

While it might be a stretch to claim that disco in effect killed Chicago, as this effort exemplifies, the dance craze certainly didn't help the band, either. After the moderate success of its previous long player, Hot Streets (1978), Chicago seemed to have the fortitude to carry on in the wake of the tragic loss of original member Terry Kath (lead guitar/vocals). With the addition of Donnie Dacus (guitar/vocals) and producer Phil Ramone, Chicago scored a pair of strong Top 40 hits with "No Tell Lover" and "Alive Again." By mid-1979, the fickle pop music tides had fully turned toward the beat-intensive drone of disco. Somewhere along the line the rhythm temporarily fixated the band -- much in the same way a deer reacts to oncoming headlights. As Chicago 13 (1979) proves, the results in either instance are not pretty. The nine-plus minute "extended" opener, "Street Player," could easily be mistaken for a Village People number. The same fate befalls the overtly funky and urban-influenced "Paradise Alley." Interestingly, the latter was originally slated as the title track from a concurrent Sylvester Stallone snoozer of the same name. The disc does contain a few redeeming moments, however. Laudir DeOliveira (percussion) contributes the breezy, jazz-flavored "Life Is What It Is." Featuring an equally liberating vocal from Peter Cetera (bass/vocals), it includes one of the more tasteful horn arrangements on the album. The ragtime blues feel on Danny Seraphine's (drums) "Aloha Mama" has some well-seasoned brass augmentation, proving that Chicago had not completely abandoned its roots or audience. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Rock - Released October 26, 2018 | Rhino

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The thirteenth “greatest hits” or official “best of” release, this album could easily have been given the title Chicago XXXVII or XXXVIII, but ever since 2014 and the last studio production to date, titled Now, even the band can’t be bothered to count anymore! This compilation doesn’t include classics such as 26 or 6 to 4, Make Me Smile or Colour My World (an extract from the concept suite Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon). This won’t come as a surprise to the many who are still following the long journey of this famous group. This album focuses on the second part of Chicago II − Live on Soundstage, when singer-bassist Jeff Coffey was still in the central role once occupied by the all-pervasive Peter Cetera. He has since been replaced by Neil Donell on vocals (and guitar) and Brett Simons on bass. He still works wonders on the excellent If You Leave Me Now, Hard to Say I'm Sorry / Get Away and Feelin' Stronger Every Day but it’s clear that the three co-founders, Robert Lamm (keyboards, vocals), Lee Loughnane (trumpet) and James Pankow (trombone), are the ones leading the way. Originally, the three musicians wanted to pay tribute to late guitarist Terry Kath and to themselves with a large majority of their own compositions, Lamm getting the lion’s share with five tracks. Here we’re just a bit frustrated by the finale which includes the first riffs from the Beatles’ Got to Get You Into My Life without going any further, as opposed to the wonderful finale of Live in 75 – Chicago XXXIV, released in 2011. © Jean-Pierre Sabouret/Qobuz
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Rock - Released October 3, 2006 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released February 25, 2003 | Rhino

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Rock - Released June 29, 2018 | Rhino

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For this live, Chicago chose the city of… Chicago! The famous WTTW-TV studios to be exact. Chicago II − Live On Soundstage features the twelve tracks of Chicago, the well-known 70s band’s second album released in 1970. All the hits are there: 25 Or 6 To 4, Make Me Smile, Movin' In and Wake Up Sunshine. They did however avoid making a “typical” live, thanks to stretched interpretations recorded under the name Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon. For over nine minutes, it features the medley So Much To Say, So Much To Give / Anxiety's Moment / West Virginia Fantasies / Colour My World / To Be Free / Now More Than Ever. Chicago gets carried away with jazz transitions, gives prominence to the brasses, the lyricism of the flutes and to pop, which radiates creativity. And most importantly, it’s the perfect occasion to remind everyone that the formation that won 23 golden records and 18 platinum albums is still active. © Anna Coluthe/Qobuz
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Rock - Released January 25, 2005 | Rhino

It's fair to say that most of Chicago's hit singles were love songs, which makes compiling an album like Rhino's 2005 collection Love Songs a bit of an easy task. There's not much risk that the collection will contain a bunch of little-known album tracks, since there are so many romantic hits in their catalog, and Love Songs proves that theory right, since most of the 18 songs here are among Chicago's best-known songs. This set leans heavily on the group's '80s recordings, both with and without Peter Cetera, but that's not a problem, since it gives the set a coherence. While this isn't a perfect collection -- it would have been nice if the original version of "If You Leave Me Now" was here instead of a live version from 2004 featuring Philip Bailey, and it's also strange that Bailey's group, Earth, Wind & Fire, is featured here with "After the Love Has Gone" in a live 2004 recording simply because Chicago's Bill Champlin is on the track -- it nevertheless contains nearly all of the band's biggest love songs, including "You're the Inspiration," "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," "Colour My World," "Look Away," "Will You Still Love Me?," "No Tell Lover," "What Kind of Man Would I Be?," and "Wishing You Were Here." That makes this disc an excellent choice for anybody seeking a Chicago album containing nothing but romantic music. Plus, the back cover art of candy hearts bearing Chicago song titles is kinda cute, too. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released November 3, 2009 | Rhino

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. ~ Stephen Cook