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, rock
ProducerJames William Guercio
Chicago chronology
The 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 (sometimes referred to 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 Chicago Transit Authority) 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.


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 (to avoid legal action being threatened by the actual mass-transit company). Although the official title of the album is Chicago, it came to be retroactively known as Chicago II, keeping it in line with the succession of Roman numeral-titled albums that officially began with Chicago III in 1971.

While The Chicago Transit Authority was a success, Chicago is considered by many to be Chicago's breakthrough album, yielding three singles that made it into the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, including "Make Me Smile" (No. 9), "Colour My World" (No. 7), and "25 or 6 to 4" (No. 4).[2] The centerpiece of the album was the thirteen-minute song cycle "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon", written by trombone player James Pankow, and from which the singles "Make Me Smile" and "Color My World" were taken. Guitarist Terry Kath also participated in an extended classically styled cycle of four pieces, three of which were co-written by the well-known, arranger, composer, and pianist Peter Matz.[3]:13 The politically outspoken keyboardist Robert Lamm also tackles his qualms with "It Better End Soon", another modular piece. Bassist Peter Cetera, later to play a crucial role in the band's music, contributed his first song to Chicago and this album, "Where Do We Go From Here?".[Note 1]

Released in January 1970 on Columbia Records, Chicago was an instant hit, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard 200 in the United States[5] and No. 6 in the UK.[6]

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," the latter of 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.[7] A vinyl edition of the remix cut by Kevin Gray was released on August 11, 2017.

In a published interview, Robert Lamm indicates the album, Chicago, has been nominated for the Grammy Hall of Fame more than once.[8]

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,[9] who were both nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Album Cover for their efforts.[10][11] John Berg said the Coca-Cola logo was the inspiration for the Chicago logo.[9] The cover art work is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.[12] The band's official web site labels the cover design, "silver bar."[13]

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,[14] "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."[15]

Critical reception[edit]

In a contemporary 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?"[16] Lindsay Planer from AllMusic was more enthusiastic in a retrospective review, giving 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".[17]


Grammy Awards
Year Category Work Result Ref.
1971 Album of the Year Chicago Nominated [18]
Contemporary Vocal Group Chicago Nominated [18]
Best Album Cover Chicago (John Berg & Nick Fasciano) Nominated [18]

Other honors

  • 1971: Chicago, Best Small-Combo LP, Playboy Jazz & Pop Poll[19]

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/Cetera5:31
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)[20]"
Side Three
7."Fancy Colours"LammCetera/Lamm5:10
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)[21]"

Kath/Peter Matz[3]: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)[22]"

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
  • Robert Honablue – mastering 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


Weekly charts[edit]

Year Chart Position Ref
1970 Billboard Pop Albums 4 [5]
1970 UK album chart 6 [6]


Year Single Chart Position Ref
1970 "25 or 6 to 4" Billboard Pop Singles 4 [2]
1970 "Make Me Smile" Billboard Pop Singles 9 [2]
1971 "Colour My World" Billboard Pop Singles 7 [2]


Organization Level Date Ref
RIAA – USA Gold April 13, 1970 [23]
RIAA – USA Platinum August 9, 1991 [23]


  1. ^ Both the original 1970 Columbia vinyl LP (KGP 24 CS 9977 XSM 151852) and the 2002 Rhino reissue on CD (R2 76172) shows the title of the track, "Where Do We Go From Here?" with and without the question mark. On the 1970 vinyl LP, the track title is listed with the question mark on the inside front cover, but without the question mark on the center label of the disc. On the 2002 Rhino reissue on CD, the title appears with the question mark on the outside back page of the CD booklet, but appears without the question mark on page 13 inside the booklet. A catalog of copyright entries shows the title with the question mark,[4] therefore the question mark is shown as part of the title in this article.


  1. ^ "125 Years of Columbia Records". 360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story. Sony Music Entertainment. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d "Chicago Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Chicago (CD booklet)|format= requires |url= (help) (Media notes). Burbank, California, USA: Rhino Entertainment Company. 2002. R2 76172.
  4. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries: Third series. 1971. p. 833. Retrieved November 10, 2017 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ a b "Chicago Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Chicago | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  7. ^ Chicago II Steven Wilson Remix at AllMusic. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "Grammy Awards: Artist: John Berg". Recording Academy Grammy Awards. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  11. ^ "Grammy Awards: Artist: Nick Fasciano". Recording Academy Grammy Awards. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  12. ^ "John Berg, Nick Fasciano. Cover for Chicago's second self-titled album". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  13. ^ "Albums: Chicago". Chicago - The Band. Chicago Touring. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Chicago (1970). Chicago (album) (Vinyl LP cover liner notes). U.S.A.: Columbia. KGP 24 CS 9962 XSM 151734.
  16. ^ Christgau, Robert (April 23, 1970). "Consumer Guide (9)". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  17. ^ Chicago at AllMusic. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  18. ^ a b c "Grammy Award Nominees and Winners – 1971".
  19. ^ "Jazz & Pop '71". Playboy. HMH Publishing Co., Inc. February 1971. available at, Bondi Data Viewer |access-date=October 21, 2017
  20. ^ individual times for Ballet taken from original LP KGP 24 CS 9962 XSM 151735
  21. ^ individual times for Memories of Love taken from original LP KGP 24 CS 9977 XSM 151852
  22. ^ individual times for It Better End Soon taken from original LP KGP 24 CS 9977 XSM 151853
  23. ^ a b "Gold & Platinum - RIAA: Chicago: Chicago II". RIAA. Retrieved November 9, 2017.