Sunday, 13 January 2019

Chicago - Chicago V (1972)


Released July 1972

After three double albums, plus a live album, this was Chicago's first single album release.


1. A Hit By Varese
2. All Is Well
3. Now That You've Gone
4. Dialogue, Pt. 1
5. Dialogue, Pt. 2
6. While The City Sleeps
7. Saturday In The Park
8. State Of The Union
9. Goodbye
10. Alma Mater                                

"A Hit By Varese" is a sort of free-form jazz meets prog rock on a thumping, bass, brass, funk and prog opener. Madcap trumpet merges with proggy keyboard swirls and there are a few incidental vocals thrown in. The bass is superbly throbbing too. "All Is Well" is a CSNY, folk rock influenced laid-back number, augmented, of course, by brass, in this case, trumpet. The vocal harmonies are also very reminiscent of The Beach Boys' output from the same period. "Now That You've Gone" is a superb slice of jazz/funk fusion, full of rolling drums, sonorous trombone and crystal clear percussion. The soulful vocal from Terry Kath is very David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears-influenced. The bass/trombone/percussion interplay is sumptuous and uplifting.

"Dialogue, Pt. 1" begins with a catchy Latin-inspired intro redolent of Paul Simon's "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard". It is upbeat, soulful and ebullient with a great vocal. The bass line is just gorgeous too. The track is full of funk/soul. It merges into "Dialogue, Pt. 2", which features some excellent trumpet riffs, over wah-wah-ish electric guitar. Both these tracks are excellent. The sound quality is outstanding as well.

"While The City Sleeps" is ushered in by wind noise, then some car-horn brass before it bursts into a classic piece of brassy, bassy funk. "Saturday In The Park" was a popular hit single and summer radio favourite. It is easy to hear why, as it is full of sunny, summery enthusiasm. There is quite a bit of The Doobie Brothers in there, some America-style harmonies too. Chicago have always liked to get a bit political, and the blues/funk of "State Of The Union" does just that, wanting us to "tear the system down...". To a jazzy funk backing, of course. The funk is unrelenting on this track. "Goodbye" is a very jazzy number, introduced by a fifties-sounding trumpet. It has a light, breezy vocal. The percussion is intoxicating as is the song's whole rhythm.

"Alma Mater" is a plaintive, piano and vocal ballad that very much addresses the problems of the period. Overall, this had been a transitional album between the extended jazz/rock/funk fusion workouts of the first three double albums and the shorter, poppier compositions of "Chicago VI". In that respect it actually makes for one of their best albums.


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