Sunday, 17 November 2019 07:14

Chicago on a Sunday - Chicago VI. The first warnings Featured

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After an absence of nearly 5 years, the time is right to continue to feature Chicago albums in the series Chicago on a Sunday. We've come to Chicago VI, the album where the very first signs of a future change of style emerge

The start of this article was written in dusing Christmas 2014, and then it stopped. We may well call it a kind of Chicago writing Block. Then we have a name for it. We can probably say that I got a little overdose of Chicago at that time. And really it was a bit of a shame, because with the Chicago VI album, something interesting is starting to happen, at least if we put the long-term perspective into analyzing Chicago's development. Or Chicago's growth and fall , one might say.

Meanwhile, a new release has also appeared in Chicago's official discography, making it now a total of 37 albums. Initially, I don`t intend to do anything about it in relation to the graphics. Then we'll see what happens if I get this far in this series.

There are two main elements that dominate when the Chicago VI album gets its verdict. The first element is that although it is consistently a high quality of the songs, there is no real highlight of the album. And at the same time, there are a couple of songs that in my ears shouldn't have come through the needle eye to fit the album. And strangely enough, these Cetera-dominated songs were released as singles.

The other element is that with Chicago VI we have the clearest change of direction to Chicago. There had been subltle changes in the past as well, but the first three studio albums had a fairly uniform character, and it may be tempting to consider these albums as a three-part suite. In this context, we skip Live at Carnegie Hall, since it consists mostly of live versions from the first three albums. On Chicago V it was a bit clearer - but still very moderate - change of direction compared to the first three, but still the quality was high. Actually, I consider this album a candidate for one of the best Chicago albums of all time. It is only at Chicago VI that the change of direction begins to raise a touch of concern. Because although the album is consistently good quality, on 2-3 of the tunes there is some warning of a change of direction which is not good.

The sound of Chicago VI

This time I have chosen to listen primarily to the vinyl edition, but also lossless on TIDAL. The sound is good, and perhaps at par with the sound of the vinyl edition of Chicago V. Almost, but not quite.

Side A

  1. Critics` Choice (5-)
    Written by Robert Lamm

    Pretty good introduction song , with a special sound. Laidback and a bit wondering, and distinct Robert Lamm signature.

  2. Just You`n`me (3)
    Written by James Pankow

    James Pankow has written many, many great songs for Chicago. This is not one of them. A nica passage in the instrumental part in the middle of the song, though. Peter Cetera sings - not good! Still, this is oddly one of Chicago's hits. But more interestingly, this may be the first or at least the clearest warning of what's to come. Gradually…

  3. Darlin`Dear (5-)
    Written by Robert Lamm

    Pretty good Rock song, but at the same time very untypical Chicago. At least if we overlook the sound of the Wind section.. Almost a little Johnny Winter inspired guitar sound by Terry Kath.

  4. Jenny (5)
    Written by Terry Kath

    Terry Kath sings on this distinctive and slightly country-inspired song. It also illustrates the tremendous musical range Terry Kath had, from low-key subtle tracks to hardcore rock that even got Jimi Hendrix to bend in the dust.

  5. What`s This World Comin` To. (4+)
    Written by James Pankow.

    Nor is this song is among James Pankow's best, but still much better than Just You`n`me . The microphone goes on a lap between Robert Lamm, Peter Cetera and Terry Cath. Here, Cetera proves that he can be the best vocalist in Chicago when he just doesn't take on the embarrassing pop-ballad habit. But now I forgot for a moment that Terry Kath was always better.

Side B

  1. Something In This City Changes People. (5-)
    Written by Robert Lamm.

    Nice song with a slightly subtle atmosphere, with slightly melancholic undertone. Maybe the album's best?

  2. Hollywood (5-)
    Written by Robert Lamm

    A nice song, and at the same time pointing a little forward.
  3.  In Terms of Two (4+)
    Written by Peter Cetera

    Peter Cetera gets his voice exposed well. But a song that draws very in the direction of pop, with a touch of country in one of the corners.
  4. Rediscovery (5)
    Written by Robert Lamm.

    This one captures a bit of the mood that appeared on Chicago V. Really a good track, maybe one of the album's best. The wind section has a slightly inferior position here, the soundscape is more dominated by Robert Lamm's electric piano and Terry Kath with an overdose of wah-wah.

  5. Feeling Stronger Every Day. (4) 
    Written by Peter Cetera and James Pankow

    Even more Peter Cetera. And once again, there is a clear pop feel to the song, despite being a little rocky rhythmic towards the end


Bonus Track at Chicago VI - Expanded & Remastered

On the digital release Expanded & Remastered there is a couple of extra tracks.

The first song is titled Beyond All Our Sorrows, and is a great and slightly sad song in which Terry Kath sings. The song is only accompanied by acoustic piano, and it is not known who the pianist is. Rumor has it that Terry Kath himself is also playing the piano, despite the fact that piano was not on his standard menu. And all though this is far from a well-polished song, it would be a big boost to replace a couple of the songs on the original release.

The second bonus track is Tired Of Beeing Alone, a solo song by Al Greene. The song is recorded in a TV show at Chicago's Caribou Ranch, where Al Greene was one of several invited guests. The song is completely dominated by Al Greene, and it's a daunting exercise to discover that this is Chicago. But the tune is a pretty good one.


Also read the other articles in the series Chicago on a Sunday:

  • Chicago on a Sunday - Chicago Transit Authority
  • Chicago on a Sunday - Chicago II
  • Chicago on a Sunday - Chicago III
  • Chicago on a Sunday. - "Chicago IV" Chicago Live at Carnegie Hall
  • Chicago on a Sunday - Chicago V

And the article where it all started:

  • Record Review and Portrait: "NOW" Chicago XXXVI - And then …
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Karl Erik Sylthe

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