Chicago (album)

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Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 26, 1970[1]
RecordedAugust 1969
StudioColumbia Recording Studios, New York and Columbia Studios, Hollywood
GenreJazz fusion, progressive rock
ProducerJames William Guercio
Chicago chronology
Chicago Transit Authority
Chicago III
Singles from Chicago
  1. "Make Me Smile/Colour My World"
    Released: March 1970
  2. "25 or 6 to 4"
    Released: June 1970

Chicago (retroactively known as Chicago II) is the second studio album by Chicago-based American rock band Chicago. Like their debut album, Chicago Transit Authority, this was a double album. It was their first album under the name Chicago (the band's prior name, Chicago Transit Authority, was changed due to a threatened lawsuit from the actual mass-transit operator bearing the same name) and the first to use the now ubiquitous cursive Chicago logo on the cover. Released in January 1970 on Columbia Records, Chicago was commercially successful. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in April of the same year of its release, and certified platinum in 1991. It reached No. 4 on the album charts in the United States and No. 6 on the album charts in the UK, and produced three top ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100. The album received three Grammy Award nominations - for Album of the Year, Contemporary Vocal Group, and Best Album Cover. It was voted best album of 1970 by readers of Cash Box magazine, and the 1971 best small-combo LP by readers of Playboy magazine.


The album was released in 1970 after the band had shortened its name from "The Chicago Transit Authority" following the release of their self-titled debut album the previous year, in order to avoid legal action being threatened by the actual mass-transit company. The official title of the album is Chicago, although it came to be known as Chicago II, keeping it in line with the succession of Roman numeral-titled albums that officially began with Chicago III in 1971.

Chicago Transit Authority was a success, yet Chicago is considered by many to be the group's breakthrough album, yielding three singles that made it into the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, including "Make Me Smile" (number 9), "Colour My World" (number 7), and "25 or 6 to 4" (number 4).[2]

Chicago was released in January 1970 on Columbia Records and was an instant hit, reaching number 4 on the Billboard 200 in the United States[3] and number 6 in the UK.[4] Columbia Records was very active in promoting its quadraphonic four-channel surround-sound format in the mid-1970s, and nine of Chicago's first ten albums were made available in quad. The quad mix features elements not heard in the standard stereo mix, including additional guitar work from Kath in "25 Or 6 To 4" and a different vocal take from Lamm in "Wake Up Sunshine," which reveals a different lyric in the song's last line.

In 2002, Chicago was remastered and reissued on one CD by Rhino Records with the single versions of "Make Me Smile" and "25 or 6 to 4" as bonus tracks. Rhino released a DVD-Audio version of the album in 2003, featuring both Advanced Resolution Stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes. In 2016, British producer and musician Steven Wilson remixed Chicago from the original multitrack tapes. This version was released on January 27, 2017 by Rhino Records.[5] A vinyl edition of the remix cut by Kevin Gray was released on August 11, 2017. Robert Lamm stated in an interview that the album has been nominated for the Grammy Hall of Fame more than once.[6]

Musical style, writing, composition[edit]

In a 2015 article, Classic Rock Review says the album saw Chicago's, "full immersion into mainstream success while still building on their fusion of rock, funk and jazz."[7]

In Danny Seraphine's book Street Player, he describes it this way: "In between the dates of our touring schedule, we somehow found the opportunity to jump into CBS Studios in Los Angeles and record a second album in August 1969. Whereas the first record was a compilation of raw energy, we took a more controlled approach to our new effort."[8]

The centerpiece of the album was the 13-minute song cycle "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon" written by trombone player James Pankow, from which came the singles "Make Me Smile" and "Colour My World". Guitarist Terry Kath also participated in an extended classically styled cycle of four pieces, three of which were co-written by arranger, composer, and pianist Peter Matz.[9]:13 Politically outspoken keyboardist Robert Lamm expresses his qualms in "It Better End Soon", another modular piece. Bassist Peter Cetera contributed his first song to Chicago with "Where Do We Go From Here?".[7]

The song "Fancy Colours" is the 13th song on the album. By no coincidence the song concludes with 13 trumpet blasts.

Recording, production[edit]

The album was produced by James William Guercio, who was Chicago's producer for its first eleven albums,[10] and was recorded in less than a month, during August 1969.[7]

In 1970, James Pankow said about the album, " 'We . . . think it is better recorded and better played than the first. None of us feel, though, that we are really a recording group yet. We are all scared in the studio. We are really a live group.' "[11]

Artwork, packaging[edit]

The Chicago logo, which made its first appearance on the cover of this album, was designed by John Berg and fashioned by Nick Fasciano,[12] who were both nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Album Cover for their efforts.[13][14] John Berg said the Coca-Cola logo was the inspiration for the Chicago logo.[12] The cover art work is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.[15] The band's official web site labels the cover design, "silver bar."[16]

The double-LP album's inner cover includes the playlist, the entire lyrics to "It Better End Soon", a "Producer's Note" stating, "This endeavor should be experienced sequentially", and a declaration written by Robert Lamm,[17] "With this album, we dedicate ourselves, our futures and our energies to the people of the revolution. And the revolution in all of its forms."[18]

Critical reception[edit]

Contemporary reviews for the album were mixed. In his review for the Chicago Sun Times, writer Al Rudis says Chicago's second album "confirms" that "Chicago is one of the most exciting, most original, and most accomplished jazz-rock groups in existence."[11] whereas in a review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau gave Chicago a "D+" and called it "sterile and stupid", writing that if "Duke Ellington never got away with an extended work for horns and meaningfulness [what] makes James William Guercio and the self-designated revolutionaries who are his cohorts think they can?"[19]

There have been positive retrospective reviews. Lindsay Planer from AllMusic gave the album four-and-a-half out of five stars and said its songs "underscore the solid foundation of complex jazz changes with heavy electric rock & roll that the band so brazenly forged on the first set".[20] Jim Beviglia, writing for American Songwriter, said, "50 years after its release, Chicago II still stands as the one of the band’s signature achievements. ...Listening to Chicago II now, it is remarkable just how smoothly the various pieces blend together."[21]


Grammy Awards
Year Category Work Result Ref.
1971 Album of the Year Chicago Nominated [22]
Contemporary Vocal Group Chicago Nominated [22]
Best Album Cover Chicago (John Berg & Nick Fasciano) Nominated [22]

Other honors

Track listing[edit]

Side One
1."Movin' In"James PankowTerry Kath4:06
2."The Road"Terry KathPeter Cetera3:10
3."Poem for the People"Robert LammLamm/Cetera4:25
4."In the Country"KathKath/Cetera6:34
Side Two
5."Wake Up Sunshine"LammLamm/Cetera2:29
6."Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon"
  1. "Make Me Smile" (3:32)
  2. "So Much to Say, So Much to Give" (1:04)
  3. "Anxiety's Moment" (1:00)
  4. "West Virginia Fantasies" (1:34)
  5. "Colour My World" (2:58)
  6. "To Be Free" (1:21)
  7. "Now More Than Ever" (1:27)[26]"
Side Three
7."Fancy Colours"LammCetera5:10
8."25 or 6 to 4"LammCetera4:50
9."Memories of Love"
  1. "Prelude" (1:18)
  2. "A.M. Mourning" (2:05)
  3. "P.M. Mourning" (1:59)
  4. "Memories of Love (4:01)[27]"

Kath/Peter Matz[9]:13

Side Four
10."It Better End Soon"
  1. "1st Movement" (2:30)
  2. "2nd Movement" (3:47)
  3. "3rd Movement" (3:19)
  4. "4th Movement" (1:15)[28]"

Lamm/Walter Parazaider

11."Where Do We Go from Here?"CeteraCetera2:53




  • James William Guercio – producer
  • Peter Matz – orchestration on "Prelude"
  • Donald Puluse – engineer
  • Brian Ross-Myring – engineer
  • Chris Hinshaw – engineer
  • Nick Fasciano – cover art
  • John Berg – cover design
  • Herb Greene – photography and poster photos

2002 reissue

  • Paul Klingberg – remixing
  • John Kellogg – remix producer
  • Joe Gastwirt – remastering
  • David Wild – liner notes


Chart (1970) Peak
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[29] 5
UK Albums Chart[4] 6
Billboard Pop Albums[3] 4


Organization Level Date Ref
RIAA – USA Gold April 13, 1970 [30]
RIAA – USA Platinum August 9, 1991 [30]


  1. ^ "125 Years of Columbia Records". 360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story. Sony Music Entertainment. Archived from the original on November 14, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  2. ^ "Chicago Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Chicago Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Chicago | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  5. ^ Chicago II Steven Wilson Remix at AllMusic. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  6. ^ Clark, Jeff (October 31, 2017). "Chicago's Robert Lamm on revisiting 'Chicago II' and the band's long and winding road". Sun Herald. Gulfport, Mississippi, USA. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "Chicago II". Classic Rock Review. July 3, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  8. ^ Seraphine, Danny (2011). Street Player: My Chicago Story. John Wiley & Sons Inc. p. 108. ISBN 9780470416839.
  9. ^ a b c d Chicago (CD booklet). Burbank, California, USA: Rhino Entertainment Company. 2002. R2 76172.
  10. ^ "A Chicago Story – Chicago". Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Rudis, Al (February 7, 1970). "Chicago Is a Live Group". The Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved January 16, 2019 – via to read
  12. ^ a b Berg, John (October 30, 2007). "Across the Graphic Universe: an Interview with John Berg" (Interview). Interviewed by Paul Nini. American Institute of Graphic Arts. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  13. ^ "Grammy Awards: Artist: John Berg". Recording Academy Grammy Awards. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  14. ^ "Grammy Awards: Artist: Nick Fasciano". Recording Academy Grammy Awards. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  15. ^ "John Berg, Nick Fasciano. Cover for Chicago's second self-titled album". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  16. ^ "Albums: Chicago". Chicago - The Band. Chicago Touring. Archived from the original on November 14, 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  17. ^ Ruhlmann, William James (1991). Chicago Group Portrait (Box Set) (CD booklet archived online) (Media notes). New York City, NY: Columbia Records. p. 4. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  18. ^ Chicago (1970). Chicago (album) (Vinyl LP cover liner notes). U.S.A.: Columbia. KGP 24 CS 9962 XSM 151734.
  19. ^ Christgau, Robert (April 23, 1970). "Consumer Guide (9)". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  20. ^ Chicago at AllMusic. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  21. ^ Beviglia, Jim (February 25, 2020). "Robert Lamm Looks Back On The 50th Anniversary Of 'Chicago II'". American Songwriter. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  22. ^ a b c "Grammy Award Nominees and Winners – 1971".
  23. ^ "Best Albums of 1970". Cash Box. Vol. XXXII no. 27. USA. December 26, 1970. p. 46. Retrieved May 10, 2019 – via Internet Archive.
  24. ^ "Chicago Coming to Hampton". Daily Press. Newport News–Hampton, Virginia, USA. May 29, 1973. p. 10. Retrieved May 10, 2019 – via to read
  25. ^ "Jazz & Pop '71". Playboy. HMH Publishing Co., Inc. February 1971. available at, Bondi Data Viewer Archived October 21, 2017, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ individual times for Ballet taken from original LP KGP 24 CS 9962 XSM 151735
  27. ^ individual times for Memories of Love taken from original LP KGP 24 CS 9977 XSM 151852
  28. ^ individual times for It Better End Soon taken from original LP KGP 24 CS 9977 XSM 151853
  29. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 62. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  30. ^ a b "Gold & Platinum - RIAA: Chicago: Chicago II". RIAA. Retrieved November 9, 2017.