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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 4, 2013 | Rhino

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

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Pop - Released July 2, 2002 | Rhino

Rhino began its elaborate Chicago reissue series in 2002 with The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning, a double-disc set that covers 39 hits from all of Chicago's eras -- from the early jazzy records, through the soft rock hits sung by Peter Cetera, to the post-Cetera adult contemporary records of the '80s, and beyond. It's the first compilation to cover this much ground, actually -- 1991's Group Portrait stopped around Cetera's departure -- and while it may go a little bit further than some would want (a cover of Louis Prima's "Sing, Sing, Sing" from their 1995 neo-swing album closes the set; it happens to feature the Gipsy Kings on support), it nevertheless is very satisfying, since it rounds up all of the hits, and Chicago were at their very best on their hits. For anybody who has been holding on to all three Greatest Hits collections, this will replace them all, since it has almost every song from all three, plus remastered sound. Indeed, this is the definitive word on the group -- perhaps a fan favorite or two is missing, but everything you need is here, in a more concise, user-friendly shape than the Group Portrait box while offering more than any of the hits collections. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 26, 2013 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 1969 | Rhino

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Rock - Released October 11, 2019 | Rhino

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Rock - Released February 25, 2003 | Rhino

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Rock - Released November 3, 2009 | Rhino

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Rock - Released October 3, 2006 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released August 19, 2002 | Rhino

This is the sixth album from the jazz/pop/rock combo Chicago, and was likewise the first to be recorded at the plush, well-lit, and custom-built Caribou Studios in Nederland, CO. The facility was owned and operated by the band's manager and producer, James William Guercio, and eventually became the group's retreat for their next five (non-compilation) long-players. Another and perhaps more significant change was the incorporation of several "outside" additional musicians -- most notably Laudir De Oliveira (percussion), who would remain with the band for the next seven years and eight LPs. Although Chicago had begun as a harder-edged rock & roll band, popular music styles were undergoing a shift during the mid-'70s into a decidedly more middle-of-the-road (MOR) and less-aggressive sound. This is reflected in the succinct pop and light rock efforts, contrasting the earlier lengthy and multi-movement epics that filled their earlier works. Nowhere is this more evident than on Chicago VI's (1973) two Top Ten singles: the easygoing James Pankow (trombone) ballad "Just You & Me" as well as the up-tempo rocker "Feelin' Stronger Every Day," which Pankow co-wrote with Peter Cetera (vocal/bass). This more melodic and introverted sensibility pervades the rest of the disc as well -- especially from Robert Lamm (keyboard/vocals), who is particularly prolific, penning half of the material on the disc. Even his sardonically titled "Critics' Choice" -- which is undoubtedly a musical rebuttal to Chicago's increasingly negative critical assessment -- is a languid and delicate response, rather than a full-force confutation. "Darlin' Dear" -- another Lamm contribution -- on the other hand, is a horn-fuelled rocker that actually recalls Little Feat more than it does most of Chicago's previous sides. Compositions from other bandmembers include the heartfelt Terry Kath (guitar/vocals) ballad "Jenny," which features some fluid fretwork much in the same vein as that of Jimi Hendrix's "Angel" or "Castles Made of Sand." Additionally, Peter Cetera's (bass/vocals) "In Terms of Two" includes a more down-home and countrified acoustic vibe. While Chicago VI is an undeniably strong effort -- supported at the time by its chart-topping status -- many bandmembers and longtime enthusiasts were beginning to grow apart from the lighter, pop-oriented material. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 2, 2013 | Rhino - Warner Records

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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 /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 12, 2002 | Rhino

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Rock - Released November 5, 2002 | Rhino

Although commercially successful, Chicago's previous long-player, Chicago VI (1973), had not been received as warmly from both the critics as well as from some bandmembers. Both parties expressed their dissatisfaction with the lighter fare and significantly shorter material. In response, the combo briefly returned to their previously tried and true methodology on their follow-up album. As such, Chicago VII (1974) was not only a double LP, but much of the effort likewise returned them to their former jazz/rock glory while continuing the middle-of-the-road (MOR) ethos that was concurrently impacting the pop charts. Nowhere is this more evident than the trio of sides extracted as singles -- including the Top Ten hits "(I've Been) Searching So Long," "Call on Me," and "Wishing You Were Here." The latter of which features some stunning backing vocals from Beach Boys Dennis Wilson, Carl Wilson, and Alan Jardine. The group were continuing in their incorporation of additional musicians, most notably Laudir DeOliveira (percussion) and David J. Wolinski (ARP synthesizer) -- both of whom are prominently featured throughout the sides. The opening instrumentals, including "Prelude to Aire," "Aire," and "Devil's Sweet," reflect Daniel Seraphine's (drums) tremendously underrated skills as a writer as well as the combo's recently underutilized talents as ensemble musicians. All three tracks provide a brilliant showcase for the brass/woodwind section(s) to flex their respective muscles, drawing heavily upon the styles of Weather Report and to some extent Miles Davis and Santana. The nature of their seemingly experimental fusion is stretched out even further on "Italian From New York." The cut includes some interesting ARP interjections from Robert Lamm, whose decidedly free-form contributions weave alongside some rubbery and liquefied fretwork courtesy of Terry Kath (guitar/vocals). His lead bobs around Lamm's synthesizer and an equally prominent cool-toned Fender Rhodes keyboard bed. The second half of Chicago VII directly contrasts the less structured instrumentals with more inclusive sides such as the previously mentioned hits "Call On Me" and "Wishing You Were Here." Other highlights include Lamm's funky mid-tempo "Life Saver," Peter Cetera's (bass/vocals) laid-back and unencumbered "Happy Man," and a double shot from Kath in the form of two serene ballads, "Song of the Evergreens" and "Byblos" -- which features some stellar acoustic strumming. This collection would be Chicago's final two-disc set by the original lineup and offers the best of the band as improvisational instrumentalists as well as concise, emotive vocalists and song crafters. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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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 /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 25, 2005 | Rhino