If all you knew of Chicago (the band) was based solely on their post-1982 output (which consisted primarily of monstrous, hook-friendly hits for the lovelorn that could put the population of many small countries into a Diabetes-induced coma) - than you are missing out on some of the most adventurous and experimental rock ever created by not digging deeper into their earlier catalog.
There is little argument that at their creative peak (1967-1976) the horn-based ensemble redefined and blurred the boundaries of acid rock, jazz fusion and classical composition into an exquisitely intricate string of Top 40 and AOR hits. In the annals of rock history they are, for better or worse, the "Beatles in Reverse."
Whereas the Lads from Liverpool evolved from a very simple singles band into a complex stew of psychedelia and political anthem-making, Chicago's canvass unfortunately became very small - initially wrapping progressive social protest around long form composition to a final (and current) incarnation as a lyrically bereft hits band, sans horns and any palpable creative pulse.
While regrettable, their regress in no way diminishes the stature of their initial output (Chicago Transit Authority - Chicago VII) of which Chicago V stands as the most accessible exemplar of their signature sound. As their first single-disc offering, after a string of double-disc+ releases, their sound is tight, the horns bright and the harmonies complex all punctuated by a cohesive mood flow and lyrics, that while dated by the politics of the time; did aspire to something beyond an unremarkable Hallmark Moment. It is also worth mentioning that the record contains their biggest and greatest hit (IMHO) - Saturday In The Park - a song that ranks as one of the Top 20 singles of all time.
If you want to capture a great band in peak form, book a ticket to Chicago V. Highly recommended!
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