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Thread: FEATURED CD : Chicago : Chicago III

  1. #1
    Moderator Duncan Glenday's Avatar
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    FEATURED CD : Chicago : Chicago III

    Credit for this featured CD : Polska

    Based on a CD received from the collection bequeathed to Progressive Ears by the late Chris Buckley (Winkersnuff)

    Polska's comments:



    First a big “thank you” to Duncan and the prog ears admins for putting this all together, and especially to Chris Buckley for this generous and amazing idea.

    From my packet of CD’s, I chose Chicago III by Chicago. While not a prog disc by any stretch, I did find Chicago III to be a fascinating document for me to look back on, especially as I was a child of the 70’s. Back to a time when bands were afforded the opportunity to take a few albums (or a few double albums!) to define their sound. This is a group of musicians working together as a band in the true sense of the word.

    As mentioned in the booklet to the CD, “Everybody contributed, and I would not denigrate or take anything away from anybody who was in the group then who has passed away or left the group. It was a tremendous team effort. I think about the experimentation we did then. Do you think anybody would be allowed that now in the business of music? That was a wonderful time.” (Walter Parazaider)

    I was never much of a fan of the band, aside from some of their popular early songs, and I detested the 80’s adult contemporary output. This is something entirely different. It should go without saying that the horns are fantastic. Well written parts, played with precision and restraint. But they were more than just the horns. They truly sound and feel like a band here. Funky, bluesy, pop. Stand out tracks to me were “Free”, “Mother”, and “Lowdown”.

    It’s not perfect. Some of the lyrics that comprise “An Hour in the Shower” are a little silly to me (for lack of a better word), but overall this CD has the sound of a band taking advantage of experimenting with every tool in their box to see what they can create, and you can almost see (hear) the pinnacle coming around the bend.
    Regards,

    Duncan

  2. #2
    Subterranean Tapir Hobo Chang Ba's Avatar
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    Chicago's debut is the only Chicago I need (and to say I need it is a bit of a stretch).
    My favorite fortune cookie read: "The only way to be successful on the internet is the keep the assholes preventing valuable discussion and eliminate the discussion itself."

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  3. #3
    Chicago II and III are worth having/hearing too. Of course, if you aren't nuts about their debut they're unlikely to change your mind with what came after.
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  4. #4
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    Gotta check out V and VII along with CTA and II. If that doesn't do it for you, then you're just not a fan. Chicago III is mostly very good with a bit of padding. For me its a step down from the ones I mentioned.

  5. #5
    For a couple of years in the mid '70s, this was my favorite Chicago album. (VII eventually came out and topped it...guess I really liked Chicago's instrumental numbers...)

    This one has the same mix problem (at least it's a problem for me) that most of the classic Chicago albums have: when the piano isn't the lead instrument, it's damnear inaudible, even when the horns drop out and they play as a four-piece.

    I adored the suites on this one -- yes, even "An Hour in the Shower", which was one of the first things I learned to play (all right, badly) on the guitar back in '73. At 14 I thought the coded sexual bits (and some not so coded...) were hilarious and wonderful. Today...not so much, the weak point of the album: but the Travel and Elegy suites are bloody awesome. (Well, I could live without the elongated drum solo, but...)

    "Mother"-- amazing funky groove, into an awesome hornscape representing a crowded, polluted, trafficky city; and back to the groove. Does it get progger than this?

    And "Sing a Mean Tune Kid" is just a fundamentally rocking rocker that rocks rockingly. Live, it cooked like Sterno.

    The fact that there's an Elegy suite on the Complete box just may yet compel me to spring for it....

    It came, back in the day, with some goodies like a poster of the band members dressed up in a graveyard as members of the armed forces from various wars, and "featuring" Vietnam. "With this album we dedicate ourselves and our music to the Revolution": by VIII, that was a terrible joke, and a damn shame it was, because the Reagan era (and much since) could really have used their political sensibility.

    But this album, in 1971, was revolutionary, in every possible way.
    National Flat Earth Society: The only thing we have to fear, is sphere itself.

  6. #6
    Chicago II is by far the best thing they've ever done. Chicago I (or CTA if you prefer) is excellent. Chicago V and VII are also very good. I'd put Chicago III after those four.

  7. #7
    I,II,III,V and VII are essential.

  8. #8
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    Chicago have existed since 1967 and have released umpteen gold and platinum albums over the course of their successful career. In general, the band is now reduced to the characterization of a "rock band with a brass section", but in its early phase around 1970 in particular, it had to contribute formative material to the formation and popularization of fusion. In contrast to early fusion acts from America like Miles Davis, The Tony Williams Lifetime, Larry Coryell and so on, Chicago used a style that was heavily influenced by beat and pop music and, in the early 70s, consequently was more accessible to a larger audience, what due to Chicago's openness to the area of ​​the 70's Progressive music, does not cut a poor figure.
    The mere fact that with the III another double album was released after the first two releases is respectable; the band shows on this album how versatile and outstanding they are.

    On the III, several styles of music were processed in the songs. Influences of the funk and soul music of the first songs, as well as that of country music, should be mentioned. Of course, there are also jazz characteristics to be found. Grippy brass sections and extended solos are simply outstanding. James Pankow, who is the best wind player in the band and is responsible for the brass arrangements, plays an important role here. He also composed the purely instrumental "Elegy" in which all instruments are used as soloists.

    "An Hour in the Shower" shows the importance of Terry Kath for the band. His incredibly soulful voice adds to the blue character of some Chicago' songs. The death of this thoroughbred musician meant the loss of a great singer and one of the best, but also mostly underrated guitarists for Chicago. His outstanding skills (both instrumental and vocal) are also evident on this album.

    Anyone who is serious about the early fusion from the U.S. can not ignore this album and the other Chicago's albums from "Chicago Transit Authority" to VII, as their take on fusion was produced on the very highest level.

  9. #9
    What a great album. One of the best double-albums ever released. Chicago's finest imo.

  10. #10
    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    At one point they were absolutely my favorite band in the early 70s. The first album is my favorite. II and III are tied. After albums V and VII I lost interest.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by betty humpter View Post
    I,II,III,V and VII are essential.
    This^

  12. #12
    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    ^^ Yup!!


    Of these, I'd say the gem is V. There is a lot of great stuff on that one, their first single album. Finally, Terry Kath is a virtuoso that deserves to be mentioned with the greats. There are a couple of great documentaries on the band and Terry Kath on Prime Video and Netflix, but I'm too lazy to come up with the titles. Well worth watching.

  13. #13
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by betty humpter View Post
    I,II,III,V and VII are essential.
    And yet to me, their single best song, certainly the best of their hits, is on the otherwise not very noteworthy VI. Once in the '90s I spent an entire day in a daze of nostalgia after hearing "Feelin' Stronger Every Day," a song I had totally forgotten about, for the first time in two decades.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    And yet to me, their single best song, certainly the best of their hits, is on the otherwise not very noteworthy VI. Once in the '90s I spent an entire day in a daze of nostalgia after hearing "Feelin' Stronger Every Day," a song I had totally forgotten about, for the first time in two decades.
    "Feeling Stronger" was a solid hit and enjoyable one at that, however, also very nice tracks on VI were "Critic's Choice", "Just You N' Me", "Something In This City" and "In Terms Of Two".

    That being said, this was a natural exit point for me having had their first 5 studio albums and hearing the direction that they were starting to pursue on V and VI. The magic and complexity of their first 3 doubles was pretty much gone and all that was left were some nice smooth radio friendly hits, that now form a staple for Light Rock and oldies radio stations. I realize that many here emphasize the return to substance on VII, however by then I was headlong into Prog and only listened to their radio hits from that album - I don't have a desire backtrack now for any of their works. Pretty much a musical memory for me now that I think back on fondly.
    r

  15. #15
    I like some Chicago, even their later hits, I think are worthwhile, though I have to admit they also have some duds.

  16. #16
    Member hippypants's Avatar
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    I still have a few Chicago albums along with a greatest hits, however, I listen to the first two Blood, Sweat, & Tears albums (and their greatest hits) more.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by hippypants View Post
    I still have a few Chicago albums along with a greatest hits, however, I listen to the first two Blood, Sweat, & Tears albums (and their greatest hits) more.
    I don't own any Blood Sweat & Tears albums, but I think I should.

  18. #18
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rarebird View Post
    I don't own any Blood Sweat & Tears albums, but I think I should.
    The first BST album, the only one by the original version of the band as guided by Al Kooper, is a solid masterpiece.

  19. #19
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rarebird View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by hippypants View Post
    I still have a few Chicago albums along with a greatest hits, however, I listen to the first two Blood, Sweat, & Tears albums (and their greatest hits) more.
    I don't own any Blood Sweat & Tears albums, but I think I should.
    If you have a chance to watch the video, or hear the recording from the Chicago/Blood Sweat and Tears joint tour, do so. It's pretty amazing.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by progmatist View Post
    If you have a chance to watch the video, or hear the recording from the Chicago/Blood Sweat and Tears joint tour, do so. It's pretty amazing.
    Sounds great on paper.

  21. #21
    Unlike most people I encounter in these discussion groups, I prefer the second BS&T album to the first. They went downhill soon after that, although there is some fun stuff on the 1972-74 albums with Jerry Fisher on vocals.

    Robert Lamm's solo album Skinny Boy is worth a listen, although I think he peaked as a songwriter on Chicago V (he wrote all but two tracks from that album).

  22. #22
    There was also a great Lamm song "Manipulation" leading off the early 80's album Chicago XIV. It has a solo by a guitarist named Chris Pinnick that reminds me of John Goodsall with Brand X.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by pb2015 View Post
    Unlike most people I encounter in these discussion groups, I prefer the second BS&T album to the first. They went downhill soon after that, although there is some fun stuff on the 1972-74 albums with Jerry Fisher on vocals.

    Robert Lamm's solo album Skinny Boy is worth a listen, although I think he peaked as a songwriter on Chicago V (he wrote all but two tracks from that album).
    I agree with you on the 2nd BS&T being the better album. I love their Satie arrangements and "Sometimes in Winter" is my favorite song by them.

  24. #24
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by betty humpter View Post
    I agree with you on the 2nd BS&T being the better album. I love their Satie arrangements and "Sometimes in Winter" is my favorite song by them.
    If the original BST had a weak point, it was Al Kooper's vocals, which were fine, just not terribly distinctive. With David Clayton Thomas they got a powerful singer (and a flamboyant showman) in the Tom Jones mold, but he did give the band a bit of a Vegas/supper club vibe that detracted from the gravitas of the music (which was still mostly excellent). "Sometimes in Winter" is a hell of a good song.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    And yet to me, their single best song, certainly the best of their hits, is on the otherwise not very noteworthy VI. Once in the '90s I spent an entire day in a daze of nostalgia after hearing "Feelin' Stronger Every Day," a song I had totally forgotten about, for the first time in two decades.
    My favorite Chicago song by far, and IMO one of the best songs ever made by anyone.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

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