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Easily the best collection of Chicago ever assembled.

  • Dec 23, 2008
For my money they are the most important American rock and roll band in history. They were a phenomenon to be sure. And the statistics would tend to back up these assertions. Whether you were addicted to Top 40 radio in the 1970's or a fan of progressive or classic rock you were sure to find the music of Chicago emanating from your radio.

It all began with an LP entitled "Chicago Transit Authority" in the spring of 1969. While the album would never attain Top Ten status it would remain on the charts a staggering 171 weeks! And from this LP would emerge a couple of classic hit singles "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is" and a tune appropriately entitled "Beginnings". And Chicago would never look back. Over the next two decades the band would have over four dozen hit singles and produce some of the finest and most successful albums of the period.

This two disc collection issued in 2002 by Rhino gives you just about every hit single the group issued on both Columbia and Warner Brothers between 1969 and 1991. And I love every bit of it. Among the early hits on Disc One I am most partial to "Questions 67 and 68", "Dialogue (Part 1 & 2)" and the aforementioned "Beginnings". I know I might be in the minority on this but I actually prefer the band's later Warner Bros. hits that can be found on Disc Two. I hardly seemed to notice when the highly regarded Peter Cetera left the band to pursue a solo career in the mid-eighties. I thought "Hard Habit To Break" was perhaps the finest single they ever made. And I also enjoyed many of the other 80's hits like "Along Comes A Woman", "Look Away" and "Will You Still Love Me?" I would also highly recommend to everyone the very last cut on Disc Two. Big band buffs certainly know "Sing, Sing, Sing". It was the signature song for the Benny Goodman Orchestra in the 1940's. Chicago has combined with the Gypsy Kings to give us a rousing version of this classic tune. Don't miss it!!!
Finally I will make mention of the included 16 page booklet. As usual, Rhino has done a excellent job with this one. I purchased "The Very Best of Chicago:  Only The Beginning" to replace three other "Greatest Hits" albums I own.     Very highly recommended!

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Paul Tognetti ()
Ranked #2
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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From the perspective of 15 subsequent platinum albums and 20 top-10 hits, it's hard to imagine that Chicago began their career as a bona fide prog-fusion act, an early FM radio favorite whose jazz-tinged, album-length suites found them a hip cult following even as they confounded label execs. Ironically, when the pioneering horn band (a contemporary of Blood, Sweat & Tears and inspiration for one-hit wonders like Lighthouse, Ides of March, and Ten Wheel Drive) relented and allowed their music to be edited down to single length, their success was explosive. Most of the "single edits" on disc 1 of this 39-track anthology provide ample evidence of that de facto formula: a catchy riff ("25 or 6 to 4," "Saturday in the Park," "Color My World") develops into a hook-filled, pop-savvy production rife with the band's trademark horn perfection. One could argue that that sensibility--and a midcareer tilt toward producer David Foster, songwriter Diane Warren, and the MOR ballads that became some of their biggest successes--degenerated into formula. Indeed, there's much on the second disc to support that notion. This set spans it all, showcasing newly refocused edits of some their biggest early hits and lesser-known tracks like their lively '95 cross-cultural collaboration with the Gipsy Kings on a cover of Louis Prima's swing classic "Sing, Sing, Sing." --Jerry McCulley

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Performer: Chicago
Release Date: July 2, 2002
Label: Rhino

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