Saturday, January 11, 2014

Chicago-The Band

Chicago Album, Cover

Welcome back as we continue our exploration of Chicago. After starting with a Broadway show named  Chicago, it make sense to look into the band that is named Chicago.

Chicago is one of the longer running rock bands out there. Founded in 1967, they were perhaps America's version of Britain's progressive rock which was starting to emerge at the same time. I don't know that they would call themselves that. They described themselves as  a  "rock and roll band with horns". It is true too that there sound was more associated with jazz than with the classical or folky stylings of the British prog rockers. However they attempted to fuse Jazz, which is arguably America's classical music, with rock and roll. Also they had the usual pompous porg rock attitude. This early clip of the band talks about the scene in their heyday of the early seventies.

Chicago was always around when I was growing up. They produced a wealth of hit songs. As time went on, their sound got mellower while I was entering my teenage angst stage. By the way, will the angst ever really stop? I doubt it, I still love a good power pop song and probably always will, but moving on...  Anyway, as I was saying I was getting into more aggresive music while they were getting into a  more mellow sound, I wanted raw music and they were offering polished pop/rock so I never really added them to my collection. Over time I had forgotten how many good songs there were on their  albums. As I began to prepare for exploring Chicago musically, and as I am older and more laid back these days, it just seemed like time to dig into their music a little more.

You will notice a pattern that I am a sucker for large box sets of  a given artist as well as Greatest Hits albums. To quickly dig into Chicago, I got their 6 disc box set, well actually it is 5 discs of music and a bonus DVD. After 48 years, they have released a lot of material, so this set still only scratches the surface. The jury is still out on Chicago for me. Their music is pleasant enough but it doesn't really grab me as much as a lot of other rock music does. I guess a lot of it is sort of like sonic wall paper. But they did have some pretty great songs too, when they rock they can kick out some tasty grooves. They definitely qualify to be included on the Route 66 playlist. Here is the track listing, its kind of long so feel free to skim past it and keep reading.
Album: Chicago Box Set Chicago 
Disc 1 CTA: Chicago

  • Introduction 6:36 
  • Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? 3:20 
  • Beginnings 6:27 
  • Questions 67 & 68 5:01 
  • Listen 3:24 
  • South California Purples 6:11 
  • I'm A Man 5:43 
  • Movin' In 4:08 
  • Wake Up Sunshine 2:32 
  • Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon 7:02 
  • Colour My World 3:02 
  • To Be Free - Now More Than Ever 2:43 
  • Fancy Colours 5:11 
  • 25 Or 6 To 4 4:51 
  • Poem For The People 5:31 
  • It Better End Soon Movements 1, 3, 4 6:37 

Disc 2 Chicago III-VII

  • Loneliness Is Just A Word 2:37 
  • Flight 602 2:48 
  • Free 2:18 
  • Mother 4:31 
  • Lowdown 3:35 
  • An Hour In The Shower 5:30 
  • A Hit By Varese 4:55 
  • All Is Well 3:50 
  • Saturday In The Park 3:55 
  • Dialogue (Part One & Part Two) 7:12 
  • Just You And Me 3:43 
  • Something In This City Changes People 3:43 
  • In Terms Of Two 3:30 
  • Feelin' Stronger Every Day 4:14 
  • (I've Been) Searchin' So Long 4:30 
  • Mongonucleosis 3:27 
  • Wishing You Were Here 4:38 
  • Call On Me 4:02 
  • Happy Man 3:14 

Disc 3 Chicago VIII-Hot Streets

  • Harry Truman 3:01 
  • Old Days 3:31 
  • Brand New Love Affair - Part I & II 4:27 
  • Never Been In Love Before 4:10 
  • You Are On My Mind 3:12 
  • Mama Mama 3:30 
  • Hope For Love 3:03 
  • Another Rainy Day In New York City 3:01 
  • Gently I'll Wake You 3:33 
  • If You Leave Me Now 3:56 
  • Mississippi Delta City Blues 4:40 
  • Baby What A Big Surprise 3:04 
  • Take Me Back To Chicago 5:15 
  • Prelude (Little One)/Little One 6:35 
  • Gone Long Gone 4:00 
  • No Tell Lover 3:49 
  • Alive Again 3:29 
  • The Greatest Love On Earth 3:18 
  • Little Miss Lovin' 4:36 
  • Hot Streets 5:14 

Disc 4 Chicago 13-18

  • Street Player [Single Version][Edit] 4:24
  • Must Have Been Crazy 3:23
  • Manipulation 3:29
  • Thunder And Lightning 3:32
  • Song For You 3:42
  • The American Dream 3:18
  • Love Me Tomorrow 5:00
  • Chains 3:22
  • What You're Missing 3:31
  • Hard To Say I'm Sorry/Get Away 5:06
  • Stay The Night 3:48
  • We Can Stop The Hurtin' 4:11
  • Hard Habit To Break  4:43
  • Along Comes A Woman 3:46
  • You're The Inspiration 3:49
  • Good For Nothing 3:38
  • If She Would Have Been Faithful... 3:53
  • Forever 5:20
  • Will You Still Love Me? 4:11
  • Niagara Falls 3:42

Disc 5 Chicago 19-Heart Of Vol.II

  • Heart In Pieces 5:05 
  • Look Away 3:59 
  • What Kind Of Man Would I Be? 4:19 
  • I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love 3:56 
  • We Can Last Forever 3:45 
  • You're Not Alone (Single Version) 3:59 
  • Hearts in Trouble [single version] 4:01 
  • Only Time Can Heal The Wounded 4:39 
  • You Come To My Senses 3:48 
  • God Save The Queen 4:19 
  • Chasin' The Wind 4:18 
  • All The Years 4:16 
  • Stone of Sisyphus 4:12 
  • Bigger Than Elvis 4:31 
  • Caravan 3:24 
  • Here In My Heart 4:14 
  • The Only One [single version] 4:38 
  • All Roads Lead To You 4:17 
  • Show Me A Sign 3:35
Moving on, I will share another tendency I have as a music collector. That is to get live albums when available. I find they often show the true musicianship and not just studio recording tricks. Live music often provides a nice contrast to studio work and shows a more complete picture of the artist. On that note, to gain background on Chicago, I obtained Chicago At Carnegie Hall. This is taken from a one week stand at the iconic theater in 1971. It was early in their careers, but still they had several hits albums by then. It is a rocking album in the best tradition of early 70's live rock albums. Spacy jams, challenging fusion pieces, extended solos including drums. By and large it has rekindled an interest in the band for me and will likely cause me to start seeking out some of their live shows.

Album: At Carnegie Hall Chicago
Volume 1
  • In The Country 10:35
  • Fancy Colours 5:15
  • Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is (Free Form Intro) 6:20
  • Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? 3:26
  • South California Purples 15:34
  • Questions 67 & 68 5:35
  • Sing A Mean Tune Kid 12:53
  • Beginnings 6:27
Volume 2
  • It Better End Soon 1st Movement 2:54
  • It Better End Soon - 2nd Movement (Flute Solo) 5:00
  • It Better End Soon - 3rd Movement (Guitar Solo) 2:42
  • It Better End Soon - 4th Movement (Preach) 3:09
  • It Better End Soon - 5th Movement 2:07
  • Introduction 7:09
  • Mother 8:20
  • Lowdown 3:58
  • Flight 602 3:31
  • Motorboat To Mars 2:59
  • Free 5:15
  • Where Do We Go From Here 4:08
  • I Don't Want Your Money 5:22
Volume 3
  • Happy 'Cause I'm Going Home 7:55
  • Make Me Smile 3:31
  • So Much To Say, So Much To Give 0:59
  • Anxiety's Moment 1:08
  • West Virginia Fantasies 1:30
  • Colour My World 3:26
  • To Be Free 1:21
  • Now More Than Ever 3:25
  • A Song For Richard And His Friends 6:58
  • 25 Or 6 To 4 6:34
  • I'm A Man 8:51
Volume 4
Listen 4:15
Introduction 6:36
South California Purples 12:41
Loneliness Is Just A Word 2:44
Free Form Intro (Naseltones) 5:58
Sing A Mean Tune Kid 10:50
An Hour In The Shower 5:59
25 Or 6 To 4 6:20
Since I like to include some relevant YouTube videos in these Old Highway Notes, I have found a few to span their career. The first is from their early days as Chicago Transit Authority.

The second clip is also from early on, its a 1969 performance of "Questions 67 & 68" from 1969.

Because Chicago has been around for so long, I thought I would include a live performance from later in their career. Thism 1989 performance from Budokan in Japan is a tasty treat.

Chicago just keeps chugging along and soon will be releasing a career retrospectice film.
As I said, I am just scratching the surface of available Chicago material to listen to and comment on. This post has opened my eyes to some music to explore further, Thanks to all of you for staying with me as I make the cross country musical journey of discovery on Old Highway Notes. Stay with as we continue our exploration of Chicago on Saturdays Route 66 series and stop by again on Sunday as we work our way across the Mexican border from Tijuana, Mexico to old Highway 101.

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