23 Songs, 1 Hour 11 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

This 1970 double album reveals a band blessed with an acute musical intellect. Textured passages vacillate between gritty R&B, jazzy rock, and brassy folk, yet songs stick in your head as sing-along hooks (like the Beatle-esque “What Else Can I Say” and “Free”) or somber narratives (“Prelude to Aire”). The moody, road-weary band come together on the six-part “Travel Suite”: “I Just Want to be Free” blasts, “Free Country” saddens, and “Happy ’Cause I’m Going Home” is folky and hopeful. They funk up the brass on “Sing a Mean Tune Kid,” then rock a blue-collar existence on “Off to Work.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

This 1970 double album reveals a band blessed with an acute musical intellect. Textured passages vacillate between gritty R&B, jazzy rock, and brassy folk, yet songs stick in your head as sing-along hooks (like the Beatle-esque “What Else Can I Say” and “Free”) or somber narratives (“Prelude to Aire”). The moody, road-weary band come together on the six-part “Travel Suite”: “I Just Want to be Free” blasts, “Free Country” saddens, and “Happy ’Cause I’m Going Home” is folky and hopeful. They funk up the brass on “Sing a Mean Tune Kid,” then rock a blue-collar existence on “Off to Work.”

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Ratings and Reviews

4.7 out of 5
55 Ratings

55 Ratings

Jinnantonix ,

This is Chicago's greatest album, without hyperbole

I owned all of Chicago's albums when I was a teen (I started listening right around Chicago 17) and this album wasn't available on tape. I had to search record stores all over the east coast because I lived in a small town and when I finally found this album it was well worth the wait.

This album is without question Chicago's greatest effort. Its hard-driving rhythm, the assault of the brass and woodwinds, and, yes, even the pretentious, dated poetry reading create a relentless work that grabs you and doesn't let go. From the first track through the 13th you can hardly catch your breath. Then the album ends with the incredible "The Approaching Storm" and "Man vs. Man the End." Sure, there are a couple of duds -- I think we could probably do without "Progress?" a Varese-like foray into the music of noise, along with the whole "Hour in the Shower" suite. But beyond this, the album catches Chicago at its creative rise that would culminate over the next four studio albums and leaves me, at least, with this question in my head: Why isn't this band in the hall of fame?

Non-Chicago fans won't like it, especially if you're a fan of the power ballads. But for those who like the work of true musicians, this album is an excellent example of masters at work.

Hippocles ,

An Hour in the Shower

Listeners who don't want to get the whole album but are intrigued by the "Hour in the Shower" medley (tracks 13 through 17) should know that they can get the entire medley as one track for 99 cents under "The Innovative Guitar of Terry Kath"

CHUCk The Duck ,

Why?

Is a great Band Like Chicago not in the Rockin Roll hall of fame!

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