The second album by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legends Chicago is coming back to CD in a newly remixed edition. On January 27, Rhino will issue Chicago II: Steven Wilson Remix, featuring an all-new stereo mix of Chicago's classic 1970 double album from the producer-engineer behind acclaimed remixes for progressive bands such as Yes, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
The creativity and innovation of the band formerly known as Chicago Transit Authority surged more than ever on its second straight double album. Chicago (now known as Chicago II) earned the group and producer James William Guercio a string of U.S. pop hits including "Make Me Smile" (No. 9), "Colour My World" (No. 7) and "25 or 6 to 4" (No. 4), but that didn't mean Chicago was simplifying the expansive approach behind its first jazz-rock opus. "Make Me Smile" and "Colour My World" were excerpted from the album's centerpiece, composer James Pankow's seven-part, 13-minute song suite "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon." Terry Kath supplied a four-part classically inspired suite "Memories of Love", and Lamm - already the songwriter of the first album's hits "Beginnings" and "Does Everybody Really Know What Time It Is" - supplied "25 or 6 to 4" as well as teaming with Kath and Walter Parazaider to write the politically-charged "It Better End Soon." The band's breakthrough, Chicago II reached No. 4 in the U.S. and No. 6 across the pond.
Steven Wilson worked from the original 16-track tapes to create his new remix. He's quoted by Rhino in the press release: "Working with high-resolution 96K/24 bit digitally transferred files, I had every element from the recording sessions isolated, which meant I was able to rebuild the mix from the drums upwards, recreating as closely as I could the equalization, stereo placement, reverbs, other effects, and volume changes of each individual instrument or vocal - but at the same time looking to gain definition and clarity in the overall sound." He continues, "So rich was their creative seam at the time that, like their debut, and the album that followed this one, it was a two record set. In fact, with unprecedented boldness the run of double albums was only broken by their fourth which was a quadruple (live) set! I consider all of these albums to be classics, but perhaps Chicago II is the pre-eminent masterpiece. It's got everything: moments of tender beauty to power riffs and scorched-earth jazz-rock, catchy melodies and gorgeous vocal harmonies. When I first heard it as a teenager I was captivated by the mixture of jazz, blues, pop, classical, progressive and heavy rock styles, including both improvisational elements and intricate arrangements, and by songs written and sung by several different members, all with their own unique personality. How could that possibly hang together?! But it does, and brilliantly so."
Wilson's remix of the platinum album will be released by Rhino on January 27, 2017 in CD format, with an LP edition to follow later in the year. Surprisingly, no high-resolution format release has yet been announced, nor has a new surround mix - a Wilson specialty. (Chicago II has already been released on DVD-Audio in 5.1 surround as well as, more recently, in Blu-ray Audio in its original 4.0 quadraphonic mix as part of the box set Quadio.) Placeholder pre-order links are available below for Chicago II: Steven Wilson Remix; they should soon be fully active!
Chicago, Chicago II: Steven Wilson Remix (Rhino, 2017) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
- Movin' In
- The Road
- Poem for the People
- In the Country
- Wake Up Sunshine
Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon
- Make Me Smile
- So Much to Say, So Much to Give
- Anxiety's Moment
- West Virginia Fantasies
- Colour My World
- To Be Free
- Now More Than Ever
- Fancy Colours
- 25 or 6 to 4
Memories of Love
- M. Mourning
- M. Mourning
- Memories of Love
It Better End Soon
- 1st Movement
- 2nd Movement
- 3rd Movement
- 4th Movement
- Where Do We Go From Here
Bob Romano says
Wait... No new 5.1 mix??? If so, what a missed opportunity. The original 5.1 was great but I have to believe that the SW 5.1 would far surpass that original mix. Please Rhino - reconsider....
Wayne K says
Probably because they just issued the quad mixes in a boxed set.
This won't be a remix--it's a gosh-darned rescue! Thrilled to hear this news.
Totally agree Patrick! Every time I listen to this amazing record, I think to myself "I wish this had the fidelity of Chicago Transit Authority." Can't wait to hear the results.
Bill B says
Very tough sell without a new 5.1 mix. As loyal and in awe of Steven Wilson's remixes as I am, I have three copies of this cd now. The Rhino stereo remix version, the DVD-A 5.1 mix and the Quadio quad mix. They are all great IMO. With a new 5.1 mix it's a no brainer, with only stereo it better be damn cheap.
Rob Maurer says
If ever an album was screaming out for a remix, this is the one! Much less, a Stephen Wilson remix? I am SO IN for this!
Thank you! This album has always been a sonic mess to me, especially compared to their first album. No high end, ambience, or air.
Steve Bruun says
I noticed the lack of bonus tracks, but considering that early Chicago albums were always so huge, it doesn't seem like they would have left much material lying around. Most of my Chicago CDs are compilations, but I may need to pick this up. Wilson has breathed new life into the catalogs of many of my favorite bands, and "Chicago II" comfortably predates the period when the band heavily favored easy listenin' ballads.
John Dempsey says
You can now also listen to this on streaming services such as iTunes and Tidal. Finally a clean remix that seeks to duplicate the original but with superior sonics. I have no idea what happened to Chicago II in the production process but no other Chicago albums had its mushy, clipped sound. The previously available remix (available in 96/24 from HDTracks and others) had a nice sound but was a significant departure from the original. It was a mix-down from the DVD-Audio 5.1 which probably explains the strange mix. Anyway, this is very welcome. Finally the album sounds like it should have.