Chicago VII

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Chicago VII
Chicago - Chicago VII.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 11, 1974
RecordedAugust – December 1973, Caribou Ranch, Nederland, Colorado
GenreJazz fusion, jazz, soft rock, progressive rock, symphonic rock
Length72:15
LabelColumbia
ProducerJames William Guercio
Chicago chronology
Chicago VI
(1973)
Chicago VII
(1974)
Live in Japan
(1975)
Singles from Chicago VII
  1. "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long"
    Released: February 1974
  2. "Call on Me"
    Released: June 1974
  3. "Wishing You Were Here"
    Released: October 1974
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic3/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone(not rated)[2]

Chicago VII is the sixth studio album by American rock band Chicago and was released in 1974. It is notable for being their first double album of new material since 1971's Chicago III, and remains their final studio release in that format. It features session percussionist Laudir de Oliveira who would become a full-fledged band member for the release of Chicago VIII the following year.[3]

Background[edit]

While touring in support of Chicago VI in 1973, the band began getting restless and started integrating some lengthy jazz instrumentals into their sets.[4] While audiences' reactions varied, Chicago greatly enjoyed the experience, decided (after years of talking about it) to record a pure jazz-influenced set of tracks, and headed straight to producer James William Guercio's Caribou Ranch studios to cut their ambitious new album.[5] Vocals aren't present on the release until track 6, twenty five minutes, twenty eight seconds into the album.

While the sessions began well, there was soon dissension within the group about the jazz project, with, reportedly, Peter Cetera and Guercio both wary of the commercial risk of such an undertaking.[5] While the band reasoned that some of the jazzy material was too good to throw away, the others finally relented and accepted including the more pop and rock-oriented songs that the band had composed in the meantime. Almost by accident, Chicago had another double album on their hands.

Of the more conventional material, Chicago once again turned in a varied set of songs, with Terry Kath's "Byblos", named after a club that Chicago had played in Osaka, Japan, ranking among his best efforts. Robert Lamm, who was recording a solo album entitled Skinny Boy at the time, turned in several new songs, even donating his solo album's title track, featuring The Pointer Sisters on backing vocals. James Pankow came through with another success, "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long" (#9), and trumpeter Lee Loughnane succeeded on his first try at songwriting with the hit "Call on Me" (#6). Peter Cetera made the biggest strides on Chicago VII, composing "Happy Man" and "Wishing You Were Here" (#11), a lush ballad (signs of the future, taking the band even farther from their original style and sound) that features three of The Beach Boys on backing vocals and which became a big hit in late 1974. "Happy Man" was subsequently covered by Tony Orlando and Dawn on their album To Be With You. Peter Cetera also covered "Happy Man" in 1995 on his solo album One Clear Voice and again in 2005 on his solo album Faithfully which is a re-release of One Clear Voice.

Chicago VII is notable for having writing contributions from all (and only) the members of the band, and for having most of the members stretching out in new ways: Loughnane sang lead ("Song of the Evergreens") and wrote a song, Pankow sang backup, Kath played bass, Cetera played guitar, and Walter Parazaider and Danny Seraphine composed.

Released in March 1974, Chicago VII - despite its first disc being almost exclusively jazz instrumentals - reached #1 in the US, becoming another big success for the band.

The album was mixed and released in both stereo and quadraphonic. In 2002, Chicago VII was remastered and reissued on one CD by Rhino Records with one bonus track: an early rehearsal of Kath's "Byblos". Initial pressings of this edition contained an edited version of the track "Happy Man" that had appeared on Greatest Hits, Volume II, which omitted the "false start" and studio countdown heard on the original Chicago VII LP.

Track listing[edit]

Side One
No.TitleWriter(s)VocalsLength
1."Prelude to Aire"Danny SeraphineInstrumental2:47
2."Aire"Seraphine/Walter Parazaider/James PankowInstrumental6:27
3."Devil's Sweet"Seraphine/ParazaiderInstrumental10:07
Side Two
No.TitleWriter(s)VocalsLength
4."Italian from New York"Robert LammInstrumental4:14
5."Hanky Panky"LammInstrumental1:53
6."Life Saver"LammLamm5:18
7."Happy Man"Peter CeteraCetera3:34[6]
Side Three
No.TitleWriter(s)VocalsLength
8."(I've Been) Searchin' So Long"PankowCetera4:29
9."Mongonucleosis"PankowCetera/Lamm/Pankow (briefly at the beginning)3:26
10."Song of the Evergreens"Terry KathLee Loughnane5:20
11."Byblos"KathKath6:18
Side Four
No.TitleWriter(s)VocalsLength
12."Wishing You Were Here"CeteraKath/Cetera4:37
13."Call on Me"LoughnaneCetera4:02
14."Women Don't Want to Love Me"LammCetera4:35
15."Skinny Boy"LammLamm5:12[7]

Bonus track (2002 re-issue)[edit]

  1. "Byblos (Rehearsal)" (Kath) – 5:40

Personnel[edit]

Chicago[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

Production[edit]

  • Produced by James William Guercio
  • Engineered by Wayne Tarnowski and Jeff Guercio
  • Strings recorded by Armin Steiner at Sound Labs (Hollywood, CA).
  • Mixed by Phil Ramone
  • Cover Photo – John Berg and Nick Fasciano
  • Photography – Urve Kuusik

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Organization Level Date
RIAA – USA Gold March 18, 1974
RIAA – USA Platinum November 21, 1986

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Planer, Lindsay. "Chicago VII - Chicago: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
  2. ^ Marsh, Dave (May 23, 1974). "Chicago: Chicago VII: Music Reviews: Rolling Stone". RollingStone.com. Archived from the original on April 18, 2008. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
  3. ^ Seraphine, Danny (2011). Street Player: My Chicago Story. John Wiley & Sons Inc. p. 138. ISBN 9780470416839.
  4. ^ Fine, Marshall (August 17, 1973). "Chicago 'explores' old ground in concert". The Minneapolis Star. p. 28. Retrieved June 29, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William James (1991). Chicago Group Portrait (Box Set) (CD booklet archived online) (Media notes). New York City: Columbia Records. p. 7. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
  6. ^ On the original LP & CD this song begins with a false start, and about 20 seconds of studio chat/noise. This is omitted on some remastered copies.
  7. ^ The same track appears on Robert Lamm's 1974 solo album Skinny Boy, but without horns and with a fade-out at 4:30.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Chicago – VII". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  10. ^ "Chicago Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  11. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1974". Billboard. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  12. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1975". Billboard. Retrieved March 11, 2021.