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Chicago: Chicago XXXIV: Live in '75

Album Notes

The fourth Chicago album -- which was not numbered with a Roman numeral -- was Chicago at Carnegie Hall, a quadruple-LP set that showcased the band as it hit ascension. Thirty records later came Chicago XXXIV: Live in '75, an archival title released on Rhino Handmade that showcased the band at the peak of its powers in 1975. They had just released Chicago VIII -- the greatest-hits set Chicago IX was just around the corner -- and they supported it with an extensive summer tour. Live in '75 is culled from three concerts given between June 24-26 at the Capital Centre in Largo, Maryland, amounting to 24 highlights in around two hours -- 50 minutes shy of Carnegie Hall, but still plenty lengthy. Often, this show does play like an expanded yet kinetic version of Chicago IX, with the group running through "Beginnings," "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?," "Old Days," "25 or 6 to 4," "Wishing You Were Here," and "Feelin' Stronger Every Day." The sound quality isn't stellar yet it isn't muffled, but the crucial thing about this album is that it demonstrates the depth of their catalog, along with the group's live muscle -- the latter being something that was forgotten as Chicago got softer in the wake of Terry Kath's death. He's all over this album and the band feels like a full-fledged, functioning unit, which is what makes it of interest not only for diehards but for those curious about why the band was so popular in the first place. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine


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