J. Conrad Guest | Northville, MI United States | 03/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Originally released as a double LP (remember vinyl?), this single CD epitomizes everything this band proclaimed itself to be in its infancy: diverse. Not only does it contain no less than four monster hits - (I've Been) Searchin' So Long, Call On Me, Wishing You Were Here (with a little help from the Beach Boys), and Happy Man - it very successfully pushes the limits of contemporary music with all of its supporting material. Guitarist Terry Kath never sounded better on Song of the Evergreens, Byblos, Aire, Italian From New York, and Life Saver. The rhythm section is tight and exciting (Hanky Panky and Mongonucleosis), while the horns sound big and brash. But again, it's the diversity of the material that makes this CD sizzle. From the contemporary sound of the aforementioned four hits to Mongonucleosis (the ultimate party song of the 70's), the bluesy Skinny Boy, the biographical Woman Don't Want to Love Me, and the jazz influenced sounds of the instrumental pieces (the first 26 minutes of this CD contain no vocals!), this CD has it all.While Chicago would go on to record perhaps more popular songs, perhaps motivated (driven?) by the change in the FM radio format (AM radio in stereo, replete with jingles and giveaways), never again would they match the creative energy found on this compilation. A classic in every sense, it's hard to comprehend why Chicago VII never received far greater acclaim, but then the critics have always loved to hate Chicago."
CHICAGO's best overall album
Gordon Majack | Seattle, WA | 05/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The boys from The Windy City blew into 1974 on a serious roll: six consecutive platinum albums, two consecutive #1 albums, and the status of a world-class supergroup. Ensconced in the creative safe-haven of their Caribou Ranch studios high in the Colorado Rockies, the band defied all sense of convention by producing a brilliant 15-song set that remains their richest and most stylistically diverse album ever. From progressive instrumentals ("Aire") to Latin pop ("Happy Man") and jazz ("Mongonucleosis") to acoustic ("Byblos") and electric ("Lifesaver" and "Woman Don't Want To Love Me") rock to funky blue-eyed soul ("Skinny Boy"), Chicago VII showcased their dazzling musicianship to full effect. This was an incredibly original and innovative band at their personal and professional peak."
This CD Really Shows Musical Skills
Gordon Majack | 01/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As an ex-brass musician, I always appreciated Chicago for their blend of jazz, rock and plain old musical skill.In the boxed set, this was considered their "jazz" album. It is challenging to listen to, few pop ballads, the 1st half is almost all instrumental. It is also a fascinating listen.For non-instrumental songs, three of Chicago's best are here, Call on Me, Byblos with its wistful lyric, and Happy Man, my favorite Chicago song (danced to it at my wedding)Over the years, my tastes have moved more towards jazz, because rock musicians embrace ignorance. Chicago VII is evidence to the contrary, that skilled musicians who care about playing well, can play rock."
The last jazz album
Gordon Majack | 09/11/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Those who criticize Chicago for being too commercial or too predictable should listen to this (double) album (on one CD). The listener has to go through the first side and one half of the first album before one hears the first track with lyrics and vocals. The first five instrumental tracks contain some complex horn arrangements interlaced with disjointed jazz solos, all of which are enjoyable. Fans have yet to see such a commitment to long and complex instrumental arrangements on any subsequent Chicago release. The other tracks contain a latin feel not unlike that found on Santana albums of that era. Percussion instruments are stressed courtesy of Chicago's new member Laudir OIiviera and are brought to the forefront on the exuberant "Call On Me", the moody "Happy Man" and the exciting instrumental "Mongonucleosis". The are, of course, some hits here. "I've Been Searching So Long" represents a protypical power love ballad, a style later used by the group to the nth extreme in the 1980's. This song, however, was new enough not to be a cliche at the time of its release. "Wishing You Were Here" contains some great harmony vocals with the Beach Boys. This is one Chicago album to get. It was released at a time when any album they put out would go to number 1. That tendency gave the group some confidence to take a few risks, when they had a producer that would allow them to take risks."
quasar_909 | Cosmos | 03/02/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If I could own only four Chicago albums, this would definitely be one of them. The others being CTA, II and III. This album has a bit of everything and it's definitely worth owning!"Aire," "Devil's Sweet" and "Hanky Panky" prove Robert Lamm's axiom that Chicago is a rock group that plays jazz. As a jazz enthusiast, I must say these are solid jazz pieces that would make the likes of Art Blakey and Rob McConnell proud. Great stuff! Too bad the group didn't do more straight-ahead jazz numbers."(I've Been) Searchin' So Long" was the first of three hit singles from this album and deservedly so. James William Guercio really shines as a producer on this cut as he skillfully balances the horn and string sections without having one yield to the other."Song of the Evergreens" and "Byblos" are solid, evocative numbers from Terry Kath. Lee Loughnane gives a well-delivered vocal performance on "Evergreens" and, as usual, Kath does some great guitar work here. "Byblos" is an interesting, if not introspective, story about how he meets a girl at a club only to lose her to someone else. Been there, done that.For all its strengths, this album does have one weak spot and that's Robert Lamm's "Skinny Boy." This is not one of Lamm's better vocal performances as his voice sounds rough and scratchy. If Lamm was trying to do a blues number, he came up short. Fortunately, the Pointer Sisters help pick up the slack here. Aside from that minor criticism, I still think this is a great album. Clearly, Chicago VII is a classic and it should be included in every Chicago fan's album/CD collection."