TITLE: Chicago III
YEAR RELEASED: 1971
CHART ACTION: #2 US, #9 UK
SINGLES: Free (#20), Lowdown (#35)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I really don’t think so
LINEUP: Peter Cetera, Terry Kath, Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Walter Parazaider, Danny Serpahine
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A more experimental and jazzy album that relies again on big suites. This time, though, the jazzy elements fall flat, and the band seems tired.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Three double albums released in 2 ½ years? That would tax anyone but the most prolific or insane artists (Robert Pollard, please step forward). Because Chicago relied on jazz and improvisations for some of its material, it didn’t really seem as daunting.
But it was. The band resisted (for now) the temptation of pop stardom and still tried to expand its musical palette, adding funk and country elements and giving some room to free jazz that was missing from Chicago II. But the funk seemed strained, the country insincere, and the free jazz tedious.
There are some nice moments. “Happy ‘Cause I’m Going Home” sounds absolutely joyful with some great flute work by Walter Parazaider. “Mother” has some interesting horn charts before going into a jazz-funk motif. But the hooks weren’t there, and the excitement didn’t seem there for the band or rock fans. It sold a lot at first, but no one really plays this anymore.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Included with the double album was a poster of the band dressed in historical military uniforms in front of a field of crosses. A powerful anti-war statement, perhaps more powerful than the music itself.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.
GRADE: B-: Some of the more boring or blah stuff is exiled.