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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chicago - Chicago II (1970 us, second excellent classic album, 2002 digi pak remaster and 2018 Steve Wilson remix)

After achieving a rare feat in rock history by releasing a debut double-album, Chicago doubled up again in 1970 for their second album to prove that they were no freshman fluke. In fact, Chicago's second release easily surpasses the sometimes overwrought first album. The crowning achievement of Chicago II is the side-long suite, "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon."

That title may not ring a bell, but the titles of the two hits that were embedded in the suite certainly will: "Colour My World" and "Make Me Smile." The rest of the suite weaves together a nice blend of musical and lyrical passages to create a very impressive musical whole. But that was just one of the four LP sides of the original vinyl release; there were three other sides with great stuff, too. The song "Fancy Colours" starts off with somber tones but quickly bursts into a festival of melodic playing that does musical justice to the title. "Wake Up Sunshine" has a similarly positive outlook, with a gentle melody and sing-along lyrics.

"The Road" is one of Chicago's best non-hit songs—an upbeat, horn-laden song about new romance. Chicago also continues the musical explorations and why-am-I-here musings that they began on their first album. This works to excellent effect on songs like "Movin' In," with its rough lead vocal juxtaposed with soaring, sweet harmonies and horns. "Where Do We Go From Here" and "Poem For The People" exemplify Chicago's unique combination of progressive awareness and musical genius—"If the people only knew..." There was also one more Top 40 hit on the album—the cryptic, high-energy "25 Or 6 To 4."

Chicago II takes the band partly out of its electric-blues-rock roots and into jazzier territory—in places reminding us of the better aspects of Blood, Sweat & Tears' jazz-rock experimentations—but they also sharpen their pop sensibilities, which makes the album more accessible. This remastered CD repackaging also includes two bonus tracks: the single versions of "Make Me Smile" and "25 Or 6 To 4." Chicago II is one of the best progressive pop albums ever put to tape; a worthy addition for those who like to get beyond best-of albums.

1. Movin' In (James Pankow) - 4:06 Lead singer: Terry Kath
2. The Road (Terry Kath) - 3:10 Lead singer: Peter Cetera
3. Poem for the People (Robert Lamm) - 5:31 Lead singer: Robert Lamm
4. In the Country (Kath) - 6:34 Lead singers: Terry Kath and Peter Cetera
5. Wake Up Sunshine (Lamm) - 2:29 Lead singers: Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera
6. Make Me Smile - 4:40 Lead singer: Terry Kath
7. So Much to Say, So Much to Give - 1:12 Lead singer: Robert Lamm
8. Anxiety's Moment - 1:01 Instrumental
9. West Virginia Fantasies - 1:34 Instrumental
10.Colour My World - 3:01 Lead singer: Terry Kath
11.To Be Free - 1:15 Instrumental
12.Now More Than Ever - 1:26 Lead singer: Terry Kath
13.Fancy Colours (Lamm) - 5:10 Lead singer: Peter Cetera
14.25 or 6 to 4 (Lamm) - 4:50 Lead singer: Peter Cetera
15.Prelude (Kath, Peter Matz) - 1:10 Instrumental
16.A.M. Mourning (Kath, Matz) - 2:05 Instrumental
17.P.M. Mourning (Kath, Matz) - 1:58 Instrumental
18.Memories Of Love (Kath) - 3:59 Lead singer: Terry Kath
19.1st Movement (Lamm) - 2:33 Lead singer: Terry Kath
20.2nd Movement (Lamm, Walter Parazaider) - 3:41 Instrumental
21.3rd Movement (Lamm, Kath) - 3:19 Lead singer: Terry Kath
22.4th Movement (Lamm) – 0:51 Lead singer: Terry Kath
23.Where Do We Go From Here" (Peter Cetera) – 2:49 Lead singer: Peter Cetera
24.Make Me Smile (Single version) - 2:58
25.25 or 6 to 4 (Single version) - 2:51

*Peter Cetera - Bass, Vocals
*Terry Kath - Guitar, Vocals
*Robert Lamm - Keyboard, Vocals
*Lee Loughnane - Trumpet, Vocals
*James Pankow - Trombone
*Walter Parazaider - Woodwinds, Vocals
*Danny Seraphine - Drums

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