Chicago IV: At Carnegie Hall,
Volumes I, II, III, and IV
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2005, Volume 12, #10
Written by John Metzger
If Chicago remains a severely underrated outfit, itís largely because the group significantly diverged from its original concept of fusing together the genres of jazz, classical, R&B, and rock in order to extend its reign over the pop charts. Though it eventually became one of the biggest-selling American acts of all time, its pursuit of commercial success came with the cost of weakened artistic credibility. As a result, its first few albums are now largely unrecognized for being the ambitious statements that they were. Of course, it also didnít help matters that Chicago began its slow, downward spiral shortly after the release of its fourth outing: the sprawling, four-LP set At Carnegie Hall, Volumes I, II, III, and IV. Even so, in enshrining the septetís week-long string of concerts at New York Cityís most prestigious venue, the collection captured the ensemble as it boldly revisited the most important portions of its back catalogue. Unfortunately, the bandís occasionally off-key vocals combined with its equally off-kilter horns proved to be somewhat of a distraction to some.
Nevertheless, At Carnegie Hall shouldnít be dismissed quite so readily because buried beneath its discordant surface were some supremely worthwhile moments. Suffice it to say, more than a few unsuspecting newcomers are likely to be dazzled by Chicagoís ability not only to improvise freely, but also to whirl with effortless glee across the wide-sweeping terrain of both its peers and its influences. Interestingly, one can hear the give and take between Chicago and the British quartet Ten Years After drifting through the rendition of 25 or 6 to 4 that concludes the newly compiled addendum of bonus material that graces the recently remastered version of the album. Likewise, a burbling, jazz-fusion excursion erupted from within the edgy, funk-and-blues refrains of Sing a Mean Tune Kid before the song flawlessly dovetailed into a swinging, instrumental romp through Bill Haleyís signature hit Rock around the Clock. In particular, guitarist Terry Kath never failed to inject a muscular burst of energy whenever the music seemed to need it the most. Also notable, however were the heartfelt infusions of soul and the playful piano accompaniments provided by Robert Lamm as well as the tight-knit rhythmic core of drummer Danny Seraphine and bass player Peter Cetera. Indeed, Chicago is a classic example of a once- formidable outfit that squandered its reputation in order to achieve longevity. Although it no longer is considered to be much more than an oldies act, the raw power and raging intensity of At Carnegie Hall serves as a reminder of how vibrant the bandís concerts once were. Ĺ
Chicago IV: At Carnegie Hall, Volumes I, II, III, and IV is
available from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box