For the first time in a career that’s spanned six decades, Chicago is on the road playing a full album from start to finish. The album is Chicago II, the 1970 classic that may be the most beloved in the band’s impressive catalogue. This summer, Rhino will be marking the occasion with a pair of multi-format releases. Chicago II: Live on Soundstage captures the band’s November 2017 performances at the Grainger Studio in Chicago’s hometown. It will be available on June 29 as a single CD and a CD/DVD set with video of the program and 5.1 audio. The music will also be available digitally and via streaming services. Then, on August 31, Chicago II: Collector’s Edition will bundle together the Soundstage performance on CD and DVD as well as the acclaimed 2017 stereo remix by Steven Wilson on CD and double vinyl.
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 colloquially 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 of 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’s remix was derived from the original 16-track multitrack tapes. It was released last year on CD by Rhino, and on 2-LP vinyl in the U.S. as a Barnes and Noble retail exclusive.
Chicago II: Live on Soundstage features original members Robert Lamm, James Pankow, and Lee Loughnane along with Tris Imboden, Keith Howland, Lou Pardini, Walfredo Reyes, Jr., Ray Herrmann, and Jeff Coffey. Since the taping last November, vocalist/bassist Coffey and longtime drummer Imboden have both left the band, though the Chicago II tour continues on with Walfredo Reyes, Jr. moving from percussion to drums, his brother Daniel de los Reyes stepping in on percussion, Neil Donell taking over on vocals, and Brett Simons of Brian Wilson’s band playing bass.
Chicago’s performance on Soundstage is currently airing on PBS, and you can find a schedule here. The program is due on CD and CD/DVD on June 29 from Rhino, with the Collector’s Edition box set arriving on August 31. You’ll find pre-order links for both titles below!
Chicago, Chicago II: Live on Soundstage (Rhino, 2018)
- 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
West Virginia Fantasies
Colour My World
To Be Free
Now More Than Ever
- Fancy Colours
- Memories of Love
- It Better End Soon
- Where Do We Go From Here
- 25 or 6 to 4
Box set includes:
- Chicago II: The Steven Wilson Remix (CD)
- Chicago II: The Steven Wilson Remix (2 LPs)
- Chicago II: Live on Soundstage (CD)
- Chicago II: Live on Soundstage (DVD)