Chicago – Chicago VIII (1975)

FrontCover1Chicago VIII is the seventh studio album, and eighth album overall, by American rock band Chicago, released in 1975. Following the experimental jazz/pop stylings of Chicago VII, the band returned to a more streamlined sound on this follow-up.

After five consecutive years of constant activity, the members of Chicago were feeling drained as they came to record Chicago VIII at producer James William Guercio’s Caribou Ranch in Colorado in the summer of 1974. While the variety in styles explored on Chicago VIII were reminiscent of Chicago VI, this particular album had a more distinct rock feel, as exemplified on Peter Cetera’s “Anyway You Want” (later covered by Canadian singer Charity Brown) and “Hideaway”, as well as Terry Kath’s Hendrix tribute “Oh, Thank You Great Spirit” and James Pankow’s hit “Old Days” (#5). The ballad “Brand New Love Affair, Part I & II” charted at #61.

Preceded by Lamm’s nostalgic “Harry Truman” (#13) as lead single, Chicago VIII was held over for release until March 1975 as Chicago VII was still riding high in the charts. While it easily reached #1 in the US, the album had a lukewarm critical reception — still commonly considered, by some, as one of their weakest albums from the original lineup, resulting in the briefest chart stay of any Chicago album thus far. It was also the first album to feature session percussionist Laudir de Oliveira as a full-fledged band member rather than merely a sideman, the first addition to the original lineup.

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Inside the original LP package was an iron-on t-shirt decal of the album cover and a poster of the band in a station wagon being pulled over by a policeman.

This album was mixed and released in both stereo and quadraphonic. In 2002, Chicago VIII was remastered and reissued by Rhino Records with two unreleased songs: “Sixth Sense” (an instrumental, or possibly a backing track) by Kath and “Bright Eyes” by Lamm, as well as a version of “Satin Doll” recorded for a Dick Clark’s “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” special – all as bonus tracks. (by wikipedia)

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Road-weary and running low on steam, the members of Chicago began tinkering with their formula on the nostalgic Chicago VIII. Robert Lamm continued to loosen his grip on the songwriting, allowing Peter Cetera, Terry Kath, and James Pankow to pen the majority of the album. The enthusiasm and drive that the band had displayed on their previous efforts was audibly escaping them, best exemplified by the lazy drawl that Cetera affects on his otherwise rocking “Anyway You Want.” Finally, the jazz tinges continued to appear less and less, replaced by a brassy R&B approach that provides a more rigid structure for their tunes. But these factors don’t necessarily count against the band, as many songs have a lazy, late-afternoon feel that provides a few feel-good moments. Pankow’s “Brand New Love Affair — Part I & II” is a smooth, light rock ballad that Terry Kath wraps his soulful voice around, transforming it into a brooding lament on lost love. This track also begins to incorporate the multi-vocalist approach that would become the trademark of their ’80s work, as the second half of the song is sung by Cetera and Lamm as well. Kath’s “Oh, Thank You Great Spirit” is another winner, as his delicate vocals drift along on a sparse and psychedelic (for Chicago at least) sea of guitars. Pankow’s “Old Days” may be the only other notable track, a powerful rocker that showcases his tight compositional skills and provided the band with the only memorable hit song from the record. Lamm’s contributions are the least-commercial songs, as his arty and dynamic tracks are nostalgic entries that show him moving in an atypical direction lyrically and musically. Only his “Harry Truman” really connects, and the instrumental tributes to Depression-era jazz and the goofy singalong ending manage to render the song silly before it can really sink in. Although not terrible by any means, Chicago VIII is heavily burdened by their obvious desire to take a break. The band hits upon some wonderful ideas here, but they are simply too weary to follow them up, and the resulting album has none of the tight orchestration that reigns in their more ridiculous tendencies. (by Bradley Torreano)

Oh no, no … this is a pretty good album by Chicago … listen to “Oh, Thank You Great Spirit” or “Hideaway” and you´ll know, what I mean.

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Personnel:
Peter Cetera (bass, vocals)
Terry Kath (guitar, vocals)
Robert Lamm (keyboards, vocals)
Lee Loughnane (trumpet, background vocals)
Laudir de Oliveira (percussion, background vocals)
Walter Parazaider (saxophones, flute, clarinet, background vocals)
James Pankow (trombone, background vocals)
Danny Seraphine (drums)
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background vocals on 06.:
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John Carsello – Donna Conroy – Bob Eberhardt – Steve Fagin – Kristy Ferguson – Linda Greene – Brandy Maitland – Katherine Ogden – Joanne Rocconi – Richard Torres – Angele Warner

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Tracklist:
01. Anyway You Want (Cetera) 3.39
02. Brand New Love Affair, Part I & II (Pankow) 4.28
03. Never Been in Love Before (Lamm) 4.10
04. Hideaway (Cetera) 4.44
05. Till We Meet Again (Kath) 2.03
06. Harry Truman (Lamm) 3.00
07. Oh, Thank You Great Spirit (Kath) 7.19
08. Long Time No See (Lamm) 2.47
09. Ain’t It Blue? (Lamm) 3.29
10. Old Days (Pankow) 3.32

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Chicago (Transit Authority) – Same (1969)

FrontCover1.jpgChicago Transit Authority is the self-titled debut album by the Chicago-based rock band Chicago Transit Authority, later known as Chicago. It was recorded and released in 1969.

Chicago were formed in 1966 as “the Missing Links”, then “the Big Thing”, then Chicago Transit Authority when producer James William Guercio took them on in 1968. Their trademark was fusing brass and jazz with a soulful rock and roll feel and Guercio felt that this would prove successful, lobbying for his label to give them a try.

Chicago Transit Authority were signed to Columbia Records late in 1968 and recorded their first album in late January 1969. While Guercio had recently produced Blood, Sweat & Tears’ second album (which proved to be a huge smash), he did so to raise capital for his band. By the end of the Chicago Transit Authority sessions, the band had decided they wanted it to be a double album. Skeptical, as the band had no track record, Columbia only agreed to the concept if the group would take a royalty cut.

In addition to the material recorded for the album, “Wake Up Sunshine,” “It Better End Soon” (both later released on their second album), “Loneliness is Just a Word” (later released on Chicago III), and an early version of “Mississippi Delta City Blues” (with mostly different music than its eventual versions on Live in Japan and Chicago XI) all date from this era, and were performed as early as 1968. Other early original songs, such as “Dedicated to Girl Number 1” and “Once Upon a Life”, were never released.

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In their original incarnation, keyboardist Robert Lamm, guitarist Terry Kath and bassist Peter Cetera shared lead vocals, while James Pankow, Lee Loughnane and Walter Parazaider handled all brass and woodwinds (trombone, trumpet and saxophone, clarinet and flute respectively) and Danny Seraphine played drums and likely doubled on percussion. Lamm, Kath and Pankow were the band’s main composers at this time. Jimi Hendrix was an avowed fan of Kath’s playing. According to the album’s original liner notes, the solo performance of Kath on “Free Form Guitar” was created without the use of any pedals. In a nod to Hendrix’s guitar expressionism (Hendrix most notably used wah and fuzz pedals), Kath instead plugged directly into his studio amplifier and improvised the entire track in one take for the purpose of pure tone. “Free Form Guitar” was an influence on the genre of noise music.

Released in April 1969, Chicago Transit Authority (sometimes informally referred to simply as “CTA”) was an immediate hit, reaching #17 in the US and #9 in the UK. While critical reaction was also strong, the album initially failed to produce any hit singles, with the group seen as an album-oriented collective. In 1970 and 1971, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” (#7), “Beginnings” (#7) and “Questions 67 and 68” (#71/#24 re-release) would all prove to be belated hits. Buoyed by the success of their later albums, the album stayed on the charts for a then-record 171 weeks, and was certified gold (and later platinum and double platinum). It is one of two albums not to have any songwriting contributions from Cetera during his tenure in the band, the other being Chicago V. He started writing songs with the second album, Chicago.

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The cover design for the album is called “Painted Shingle” on the group’s official web site.[4] In his review of the album, Paul Morelli says that the jacket of his vinyl LP came with “ringwear” on it, that there is also “ringwear” around the logo in the center, and that, ” It looks like the logo has landed in black water and is sending out ripples.” The inside jacket features individual photos of each band member, and Morelli further notes, “For a band deliberately constructed to be a leaderless democracy, Robert Lamm (far right, standing) sure stands out in the band photos!”

While the band toured the album, legal action was threatened by the actual Chicago Transit Authority, forcing the group to reduce their name to simply Chicago.

Chicago Transit Authority is the only Chicago album listed in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Chicago Transit Authority was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014. (by wikipedia)

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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.

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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).”  (by Lindsay Planer)

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Personnel:
Peter Cetera (bass, vocals)
Terry Kath (guitar, vocals)
Robert Lamm (keyboards, vocals)
Lee Loughnane (trumpet, claves)
James Pankow (trombone, cowbell)
Walter Parazaider (saxophone, tambourine)
Danny Seraphine (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Introduction (Kath) 6.35
02. Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? (Lamm) 4.35
03. Beginnings (Lamm) 7.54
04. Questions 67 And 68 (Lamm/Cetera) 5.03
05. Listen (Lamm) 3,22
06. Poem 58 (Lamm) 8.35
07. Free Form Guitar (Kath) 6.47
08. South California Purples (Lamm) 6.11
09. I’m A Man (Winwood/Miller) 7.43
10. Prologue, August 29, 1968 (Guercio) 0.58
11. Someday (August 29, 1968) (Pankow/Lamm) 4.11
12. Liberation (Pankow) Kath 14.38

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Chicago – Christmas With Chicago (1998)

frontcover1In 1998 Chicago released their 25th album, called “The Christmas Album”.

And William Ruhlmann wrote about this album in “All Music Guide” (12/1999):

When Chicago first achieved national recognition in the late 1960s and early ’70s, it wasn’t hip for rock bands to make Christmas albums. Things changed, of course, but it took until 1998 for Chicago finally to fill this missing item in its catalog, at a time when the group seemed to have entered that phase of its career when it wanted to keep putting out records but didn’t want to risk releasing new material. (Chicago’s three previous releases had consisted of an album of big band standards and two greatest hits sets.) Whatever the circumstances, however, it was good to hear the Chicago style applied to seasonal standards. As ever, the group was a cooperative unit, with the three lead singers-Bill Champlin, Robert Lamm, and Jason Scheff-taking turns on the different songs, arranged by various band members and always allowing for generous contributions by the horn players Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, and Walt Parazaider. The songs were all seasonal favorites except for Loughnane and John Durrill’s “Child’s Prayer, ” featuring a choir dominated by the musicians’ children, which sounded so much like a Middle Ages English hymn that it fit right in. Highlights included a particularly moving vocal on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by the gruff-voiced Champlin, a wonderful doubled flute passage by Parazaider on “O Come All Ye Faithful, ” and a rare lead vocal by Loughnane on “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” But the whole album, pristinely produced by E Street Band pianist Roy Bittan, was well performed. It sounded exactly like you would expect a Chicago Christmas album to sound, and if you liked the band and holiday music, you’d like the record, too.

And here ist a very rare live performance from Chicgo, to promote this album, recorded live at the House Of Blues, Los Angeles, CA, December 8, 1998 —  it´s a broadcast recording … so, we can hear the sound of Chicago in an excellent quality …

Enjoy this album … but I have to say …  the early incarnation of Chicago (Transit Authority) was much better !

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Personnel:
Bill Champlin (vocals, keyboards, guitar)
Keith Howland (guitar, keyboards)
Tris Imboden (drums)
Robert Lamm (vocals, piano)
Lee Loughnane (trumpet, flügelhorn, vocals)
James Pankow (trombone)
Walter Parazaider (woodwinds)
Jason Scheff (vocals, bass)

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The Christmas studio album (coming soon in this blog)

Tracklist:
01. Intro 1.23
02.Little Drummer Boy (Davis/Onorati/Simeone) 4.39
03. You´re The Inspiration () 4.30
04. Hard Habit To Break () 3.49
05. The Christmas Song () 3.59
06. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (Kahn/Styne) 4.03
07. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (Traditional) 3.43
08. Saturday In The Park () 2.55
09. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Martin/Blane) 4.17
10.  Just You N Me () 6.04
11. Hard To Say Sorry + Get Away () 5.31
12. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Gillespie/Coots) 4.11
13. Outro 1.18

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Chicago – Greatest Hits (Songbook) (1977)

ChicagoGreatesHits(Songbook)01AConsidered one of the longest running and most successful pop/rock ‘n’ roll groups in history, Chicago is the highest charting American band in Billboard Magazine’s list of Top 100 artists of all time, coming in at #13.

Lifetime achievements include a Grammy Award, multiple American Music Awards, elected as Founding Artists to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Chicago street dedicated in their honor, and Keys to and Proclamations from an impressive list of US cities.

Formed in 1967 in Chicago, the “legendary rock band with horns” released their first album “Chicago Transit Authority” in 1969. Since then, they have had record sales top the 100,000,000 mark, and include 21 Top 10 singles, 5 consecutive Number One albums, 11 Number One singles and 5 Gold singles. An incredible 25 of their 36 albums have been certified platinum, and the band has a total of 47 gold and platinum awards.

In 2014, their debut album “The Chicago Transit Authority” was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame. This was followed by announcement of their 2014 summer tour with REO Speedwagon, a televised performance on the 2014 Grammy Awards CBS broadcast, and the release of “NOW” Chicago XXXVI in July 2014.

And this is a songbook from 1977, called “Greatest Hits”

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