Chicago's excitement was their musical growth
D. M. Paine | Alexandria, Virginia USA | 12/02/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like a lot of these guys writing here (girls never cared much for Chicago in the early 70's), I've been rediscovering some classic rock, and Chicago more than most of these bands NEEDS rediscovering, since they got misplaced somewhere in the 80's. Along the way they turned into a soft-rock band and lost their roots, but most of us remember them as real musical path-setters. It's almost hard to remember how dominant they were, one of the top bands for at least five years.Many of us played in high school bands and knew something about music. I often compare them to Blood Sweat and Tears, who were the first rock band to feature horns. BS&T had better soloists and covered some great arrangements, they were slicker and more polished than Chicago, more New York, if you will. BS&T brought rock to the music of Broadway and Frank Sinatra, but then along came Chicago, who did their own thing. Here was real rock with brass and saxes to develop the music, adding extra colors and flavors that were often missing (and still are). And many people were VERY grateful. On top of this they had a top-notch drummer in Danny Seraphin, who more than any member helped bring the music to life, and Terry Kath, an exciting guitarist who knew the rock vocabulary and could absolutely burn.Chicago II was definitely their BEST album. The first one, Chicago Transit Authority, had some good songs and jams. But Chicago II is where the band showed its real promise. They relied less on heavy jams and more on varied tempos and textures. Songs like Movin In, In The Country and the great suite on side 2 showed some arranging genius that tickled and kept you off balance. The biggest hit, 25 of 6 to 4 (has anyone ever learned where the title came from?) featured a tremendous guitar solo combining jazzy improvisation with psychedelic wah-wah.On the down side, Chicago was very weak in the lyrics department - in fact this was their ultimate downfall as a band, which kept them out of the top tier of Beatles-Stones-Springsteen-Eagles. They also lacked great singing - sometimes youre not sure WHAT the words are. Too often the songs included pseudo-revolutionary lyrics in anti-war songs that now sound like the ranting of a spoiled teenager. You suspect, listening to them now, that their producer told them this stuff would sell the music, and since the band only had a couple good love songs in them, the political pose was their next resort. The "Better End Soon" suite at the end is pretty disposable in this regard. At least they didn't glorify drugs, and once the Vietnam war was over, pop culture was ready to forgive them and let them transform into the mellow sound they adopted later on.Yet you don't listen to Chicago II for the words. We didn't car much about all that stuff, we really wanted the rush of a band that could rock with powerful sounds, hinting of the jazz-rock fusion we would later come to love, but still mix it up with delicate and complex arrangements. So buy Chicago II not just to hear some musical history but to hear some good music that should NOT be forgotten."
Classic Chicago Album Only 2nd to the first
C. Stewart | Seattle | 06/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Chicago is a classic rock band that plays soulfully and wholeheartedly. If you buy this disc you will not at all be disappointed if you love musical variety. Chicago goes from hard rockin wah wah guitar solos to beautiful classical string sections all on one album, now thats musical diversity. Buy it today."
Own this rock classic
B. E Jackson | Pennsylvania | 10/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Chicago's second album might just be their finest hour. The songwriting is extremely good and consistent, and the jamming aspect of their early days approach is more exciting than ever before. It's truly an experimental rock album that only the early 70's could provide.
"Fancy Colours" is probably the coolest song here, featuring a bouncy vocal melody and a twisted circus-like atmosphere played over a catchy vocal melody. I love it. "25 Or 6 to 4" has some of the best guitar playing ever laid down on tape. It's a classic for a reason- it's a great, highly memorable little tune. Some people think Black Sabbath went on later to rip off the guitar parts for their song called "Dirty Women" on the Technical Ecstasy album. There are some similarities, to be honest. Whether they were intentional or not we'll never know.
"Make Me Smile" is exciting for its old-fashioned sound and really good chorus. It's a brilliant pop song. "In the Country" works really well featuring horns, dirty guitar playing and a solid vocal melody all in one. It really works great. "So Much To Say, So Much To Give" is another exciting tune.
"Colour My World" really reminds me of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and everyone else from that cartoon. I can't explain why. It's probably the exciting old fashioned sound quality that gives the song a brilliant, though depressing atmosphere. The "It Better End Soon" movements feature horns that remind me of opening those big doors to the land of heaven, and the sound of those instruments always bring me close to tears with their unbelievable beauty and demanding techniques. The guitar playing is great as well. In fact, Chicago's guitar playing is quite underrated compared to many other rock bands back in the day.
Chicago's second album is worth owning and enjoying. Buy it today."