Marcel Wild | Matieland 7602 South Africa | 09/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is my first CD review (usually I write math. articles), but I just had to set things straight after having read some negative reviews. Don't belive it. This triple CD is one of the best live rock recordings ever(on a par with Deep Purple's "Live in Japan" or Rare Earth's Live album)! It is rough and wild and beautiful, and fortunately not digitally "re-mastered". There are those superb vocal moments of "Does anybody really know what time it is?", "Color my world", "I am a man", "Beginnings" and others, great piano, flute, and guitar solos, there are many 10 minute or so intense instrumental passages. Some of those are better than others, but for a 3CD set there are very few weak moments. My personal favorite is the 15 minutes "South California Purples"!"
Pros and Cons
jlsoaz | Arizona, USA | 07/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Chicago was my first favorite group, and when I was given thisexpensive album as a gift [thx again :-)], I guess at first I wasn'treally that into it. I guess there was a great deal of improvisation and earthy imperfect live-performance feel that I wasn't used to, together with a sound quality that I now see is derided by some as a less-than-great. But I often enjoy just putting an album on and going about other tasks, and sometimes they grow on you. My opinion of this one came 'round. I started to enjoy the plentiful improvisation of the piano and guitar players, along with the flutist and others. The band really puts out, doing all their great hits with enthusiasm and at length, rather than glossing over them in a medley and then subjecting the audience only to new stuff, as a cheaper act might do. I didn't know it at the time, but Terry Kath, the late guitar player, was one of the best I would ever hear. He really goes to town on this album and I recommend it, on that basis. Great ones like Hendrix and Kath do casually, off the cuff, imperfectly or not, what the good ones try very hard to fit into their acts. I see now, after some years away, that Mr. Kath has come to be held in that sort of regard by others, and that my opinion of him was not so off-the-mark. The band apparently has expressed concern about the sound quality of this recording. They have said that Carnegie Hall doesn't do well with amplified music, and recording a full-horn rock band is already a tough task. I guess they just aren't that super-high on it. That's understandable, and I guess if someone's telling you not to buy this expensive one, and just go and buy some other one that's supposed to be better, then great. I'd give the album three or four stars if I were really focusing on the sound quality issue, but I'm not. I'm focusing on what it means to me, overall, as music. For those of us who already let this album grow on us, despite all its imperfections, there's no turning back. It's too late. Not the best sound quality, I guess, but I simply don't care. If you're really into early Chicago, then I don't see how you can avoid getting this one."
Chicago at it's best
Pete Renshaw | Georgetown, Ohio | 04/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is Chicago's best album, far and above their later efforts. The talent of each musician is clearly showcased in the unique rhythms and timing that they used. A live album shows off the capabilities of a band, and on this album they had no equal. The only other live album near the stature of this one is Live at Fillmore East by the Allman Brothers Band. Live at Carnegie Hall is only for people who have the time to relax and pay close attention to what they hear, because there is so much to appreciate here. I listen to all of it at one time as I roll my 18-wheeler away, and the miles roll past quickly with this recording. It's the standard as far as I am concerned; I have the original LP release, and this is still far and away my favorite recording. Bands today don't play this way, with the funky rhythms and horn section. Powerful and moving is what it is."
An Interesting Live Document of Early Chicago
Rik22 | New York | 05/18/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Recorded during a week of performances at Carnegie Hall in 1971, this live set of Chicago definitely has some exciting moments. The 3-CD package contains tunes from the band's first three albums, which certainly offer a wealth of material from which to choose for a live record. The group plays through an eclectic selection of material including all of their hits charted up until that point. Highlights include solid versions of "Beginnings" and "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?", the latter preceded by an inspired avante-garde piano solo section featuring Bobby Lamm.
There is a lot of jamming on this CD, with guitarist Terry Kath given lots of room to stretch out and show his chops. Great extended versions of "South California Purples", "Sing a Mean Tune Kid" and "It Better End Soon" are true documents of Kath's unique guitar prowess that seemed to get lost in Chicago's later recording efforts.
Superb drummer Danny Seraphine and Peter Cetera on bass really cook on most of the tracks, walking a nice line between rock and jazz in their approach to laying down a rhythmic foundation for the band. Danny has always had a reputation in the music industry as a cutting edge musician on his instrument, but Peter, best known for his polished tenor as an 80's balladeer, is often forgotten as a bassist. He truly shines on this live outing, and this disc is worth a listen just as a reminder of Peter Cetera's first-rate musicianship.
The disc does suffer from a few flaws, however. First, and foremost, is the recorded mix of the band. True, this album was recorded live in 1971, but it seems whoever was involved in the engineering of the recording had a lot to learn. The mix is very dry and the separation of the instruments and vocals in the stereo mix is weak. The horns are separated so much that they have no blend, with Jimmy Pankow's trombone sounding like a kazoo isolated on the left side of the mix.
The other problem is that, despite some terrific renditions of most of the tunes, a few of the performances are less than stellar. "25 or 6 to 4" sounds tired and lumbering, only saved by a cool Terry Kath guitar solo.
"Make Me Smile", another of Chicago's Top Ten hits, finds Terry Kath practically screaming the lead vocal, shunning any attempt to blend with the background vocal arrangements.
These are minor criticisms, as "Chicago At Carnegie Hall" is an essential CD for anyone interested in this great band and how they were breaking musical ground in the early'70's while maintaining an enormous level of popularity that was to continue for years to come.
DEFINITELY ENJOYABLE! THIS GAVE ME A NEW RESPECT FOR CHICAGO
jlsoaz | 01/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shame on the reviewers who were so critical of this CD! I do realize that this has technical flaws (making me give it four and one-half stars for that reason), HOWEVER, it still rocks! There are some songs included that I personally don't care for, but it is still interesting to hear so many great early songs from the original members and L-O-N-G jams such as on SOUTH CALIFORNIA PURPLES and SING A MEAN TUNE KID. It gives a refreshing picture on a group that eventually turned into a "loung act" playing alongside Neil Diamond. When this was recorded the group was creative with a hard-rock edge. Hearing this for me has been like reliving the first few times I heard the Beatles' "WHITE ALBUM" because I knew some of the songs but was introduced to many great songs in a big bunch. Favorites to me are FANCY COLORS and HAPPY CAUSE I'M GOING HOME because of the strong positive emotions produced with the pretty melodies. Maybe the live Japan CD is superior (I haven't heard it) and I was dissapointed in BEGINNINGS for abruptly ending without any attempt to reproduce the wonderful single version, but wow, how can you guys be so critical of such a fantastic live album. The energy is high and the music soars! It is worth twenty bucks and then some! I only wish I could have seen this lineup instead of the sad "tribute band" playing in Las Vegas hotels now. Look to the past with this group and hopefully you will see why I feel so strongly about this CD!"