Chicago III

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Chicago III
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 11, 1971
RecordedLate June – Early July, Late November – Early December 1970, Columbia 30th Street Studios, New York City
ProducerJames William Guercio
Chicago chronology
Chicago III
Chicago at Carnegie Hall
Singles from Chicago III
  1. "Free"
    Released: February 1971
  2. "Lowdown"
    Released: April 1971
Professional ratings
Review scores

Chicago III is the third studio album by American rock band Chicago and was released in 1971. It was the band's third consecutive double album of new studio material in less than two years.[2]


In the wake of the enormous worldwide success of their second album, Chicago spent almost all of 1970 on the road, an exhausting undertaking. Former drummer Danny Seraphine, described the members of the band as "fatigued and road-weary" when they went into the studio to record the album.[3]: 122 

Released in January 1971, initially on Columbia Records, Chicago III — the band's first album to sport a Roman numeral in its title[2] — sold well upon its release and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) a month later.[4] It provided Chicago with its highest charting disc yet in the US, going to No. 2 on the Billboard 200.[5] "Free", written by Robert Lamm, made it into the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and "Lowdown", co-written by Peter Cetera and Danny Seraphine, reached the top 40.[6] Chicago III marked a dwindling in UK fortunes in comparison to the band's first two albums, Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago, reaching No. 9 in a brief chart run.[7]

In 1974, jazz bandleader Stan Kenton added a suite of songs from the album ("Canon", "Mother", "Once Upon a Time" and "Free") to his band's repertoire, releasing it on the album Stan Kenton Plays Chicago.[8]

Musical style, writing, composition[edit]

The band had used up its storehouse of original material on its first two albums. It needed new material for Chicago III, and the songwriters worked "nonstop"[3]: 122  Danny Seraphine said the band "took the opportunity to experiment with instrumentals and showcase our skills as musicians."[3]: 122 

Their long hours on the road gave the principal songwriters, Robert Lamm, Terry Kath and James Pankow, much food for thought, resulting in more serious subject matter, which contrasted with the positivity of their first two sets.[citation needed] In his retrospective review of the album, Jeff Giles writes that Lamm's "Travel Suite" was "inspired by the boredom, loneliness, and beauty of the road," and characterizes Pankow's "Elegy" suite is an "ecologically minded composition",[9] (an issue Lamm also touches upon in "Mother").[citation needed] While Kath's multi-part "An Hour in the Shower" provides a reprieve from the sobering explorations elsewhere, Chicago III was undeniably the result of a band who had seen the flip side of the world over the last several months.[citation needed] "Lowdown", co-written by Peter Cetera and Danny Seraphine, was Seraphine's first co-writing credit, and he was appreciative of the support Cetera gave him during the writing process.[3]: 123 

Chicago III incorporates a variety of musical styles.[10][11] "Sing a Mean Tune Kid" features the influence of funk,[citation needed] "What Else Can I Say" and "Flight 602" have a country feel,[citation needed] while abstract qualities are found in "Free Country" and "Progress?"[citation needed]

Recording and production[edit]

The album was produced by James William Guercio, who was Chicago's producer for its first eleven albums.[12][13] This album was mixed and released in both stereo and quadraphonic. In 2002, Chicago III was remastered and reissued on one CD by Rhino Records.[14]

Artwork and packaging[edit]

The album cover design is titled "Tattered Flag" on the band's web site.[2] Included with the album was a poster of the band dressed in the uniforms of America's wars, standing in front of a field of crosses, representing those who had died in the still ongoing Vietnam War. It also gave the number of casualties from each war up until the time of the album's release.[15]

Track listing[edit]

Side One
1."Sing a Mean Tune Kid"Robert LammPeter Cetera9:13
2."Loneliness Is Just a Word"LammTerry Kath2:36
3."What Else Can I Say"Peter CeteraCetera3:12
4."I Don't Want Your Money"Kath (music)/Lamm (lyrics)Lamm4:47
Side Two
5."Travel Suite"
  1. "Flight 602"
  2. "Motorboat to Mars" (drum solo)
  3. "Free"
  4. "Free Country"
  5. "At the Sunrise"
  6. "Happy 'Cause I'm Going Home"

Danny Seraphine
Lamm/Kath/Walter Parazaider


2:45 1:30 2:16 5:46 2:48

Side Three
7."Lowdown"Cetera (music and words)/Seraphine (words)Cetera3:35
8."An Hour in the Shower"
  1. "A Hard Risin' Morning Without Breakfast"
  2. "Off to Work"
  3. "Fallin' Out"
  4. "Dreamin' Home"
  5. "Morning Blues Again"

1:52 0:45 0:53 0:49

Side Four
  1. "When All the Laughter Dies in Sorrow"
  2. "Canon"
  3. "Once Upon a Time..."
  4. "Progress?"
  5. "The Approaching Storm"
  6. "Man vs. Man: The End"

Kendrew Lascelles
James Pankow
Pankow/James William Guercio

Lamm (spoken)

1:03 1:05 2:34 2:34 6:26





  • Producer – James William Guercio
  • Engineering – Don Puluse and Sy Mitchell
  • Recording – Lou Waxman and Willie Greer
  • Logo design – Nick Fasciano
  • Album design – John Berg
  • Flag design – Natalie Williams
  • Photography – Sandy Speiser
  • Poster photo – Steve Horn and Norm Griner
  • Lettering – Annette Kawecki and Melanie Marder for Poseidon Productions


Chicago III (Columbia 30110) reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in the US during a chart stay of 63 weeks.[5]

Chart (1971) Peak
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[16] 6
UK Albums (Official Charts Company)[7] 9
US Billboard 200[5] 2


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c "Chicago III". Archived from the original on January 22, 2019. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Seraphine, Danny (2011). Street Player: My Chicago Story. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 978-0-470-41683-9.
  4. ^ "Gold & Platinum: Chicago". RIAA. Archived from the original on February 9, 2019. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Billboard 200: Chicago III". Billboard. Archived from the original on January 22, 2019. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  6. ^ "Chicago Chart History: Hot 100, p. 4". Billboard. Archived from the original on January 22, 2019. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  7. ^ a b "CHICAGO | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Archived from the original on December 24, 2018. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  8. ^ McDonough, John (February 27, 1975). "Stan Kenton Plays Chicago". All Things Kenton – Down Beat Record Reviews. Archived from the original on January 22, 2019. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  9. ^ Giles, Jeff (January 12, 2016). "Revisiting Chicago's Third Album, 'Chicago III'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Archived from the original on January 24, 2019. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  10. ^ Lass, Don (May 2, 1971). "Record Reviews: Chicago Revisited". Asbury Park Press. p. C13. Archived from the original on January 24, 2019. Retrieved January 18, 2019 – via of an open green padlock
  11. ^ "Rolling Stone Magazine - Lester Bangs' Review of Chicago III (1971)". Steve Hoffman Music Forums. September 28, 2008.[unreliable source?]
  12. ^ Ruhlmann, William James (1991). Chicago Group Portrait (Box Set) (Media notes). New York City, NY: Columbia Records. pp. 1–8. Archived from the original (CD booklet archived online) on November 12, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  13. ^ "A Chicago Story – Chicago". Chicago the band. Archived from the original on October 30, 2018. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  14. ^ Waller, Don (July 20, 2002). "Killer Catalog: Ambitious Rhino Reissues Program Salutes "One of the Great Groups"". Billboard. p. 42. Retrieved January 18, 2019 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ Newsom, Thomas B. (February 12, 1971). "'Blues Chick of Counter Culture'". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, Missouri, USA. p. 3D. Archived from the original on January 24, 2019. Retrieved January 21, 2019 – via icon of an open green padlock
  16. ^ 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.