Customer Review

87 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An underrated gem, July 24, 2002
This review is from: Chicago III (Audio CD)
CHICAGO III was originally released in January 1971 as (appropriately) Chicago's third double album inside two years. The first two, THE CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY (April 1969) and CHICAGO (January 1970) were big smashes and blessed with (unintentional) hits - part of the reason they're still big favorites. CHICAGO III was created in the same album-oriented manner as the first two and, this time around, there wasn't a goldmine of singles to be found; no "25 Or 6 To 4" and no "Beginnings". And this is part of the reason CHICAGO III hasn't worn as well as its predecessors, but that is also part of its charm. Both "Free" and "Lowdown" were hits, albeit on a lesser scale. Another reason for the album's overlooked nature is perhaps the fact that it was another double album in a succession of three. Never mind - CHICAGO III is every bit as inventive and meaningful as the previous two albums and a concentrated listening will bear this out. The band's musical palette was far more versatile on this album utilizing funk ("Sing A Mean Tune Kid", "Free") and even the avant-garde ("Free Country", "Progress?"). There were, in addition, three suites to be found on the album, "Travel Suite", Terry Kath's "An Hour In The Shower" and James Pankow's "Elegy". Some of the passages in these extended pieces are brilliant and some of them drag a bit, which could also be a cause for the lower regard the third album. All in all, CHICAGO III is a great and very essential Chicago release. It may take a few listens to unlock its charms but it is a most rewarding album and stands as a great, if slightly flawed creation WITHOUT having any classic singles to boost it. This album originally peaked at # 2 in early 1971 and remained in Billboard for well over a year - a definite hit. This new Rhino-remastered edition is the best quality you can get; soundwise and packagewise. There is a (slightly short) essay to go with it and comments from various band members. CHICAGO III encapsulates a time when artistic freedom and experimation were greatly encouraged, while today it is largely shunned.
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4.4 out of 5 stars (55 customer reviews)
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