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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Pop > Jazz > Soul > Compilation > The Best Of Chicago – 40th Anniversary Edition (CD Set)

The Best Of Chicago – 40th Anniversary Edition (CD Set)


Sound: B     Music: B



After four decades, the band that began as “Chicago Transit Authority” has outlasted just about all of its contemporaries despite the many changes that have occurred since the bands comeback in the 1980s.  Still scoring #1 hit records long after Peter Cetera’s departure and with a stronger following than you would ever suspect, the band is out with a 2-CD set of many of their best songs in The Best Of Chicago – 40th Anniversary Edition from Rhino.


Of course, many will recall that Columbia Records was their home in the early years, then they switched over to Full Moon/Warner for their comeback and have been in control of their entire catalog ever since.  Many will note that this is only the latest of many hits sets.  Their tenth album was the first of many and a huge hit, of which this can be seen as the latest updating.  Of course, this also means that we get edited versions of the hits which are often extended jams form the original albums they appeared on.


This set samples from 15 of their albums and contains the following:


CD 1:


1)     Questions 67 and 68

2)     25 or 6 to 4 (original version, edited)

3)     Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

4)     Make Me Smile (edit)

5)     Beginnings

6)     Colour My World

7)     Saturday In The Park

8)     Feelin' Stronger Every Day

9)     Just You N Me

10)  (I've Been) Searchin' So Long

11)  Call On Me

12)  Wishing You Were Here (with The Beach Boys)

13)  Old Days

14)  Another Rainy Day In New York City

15)  If You Leave Me Now


CD 2:



1)     Baby, What A Big Surprise

2)     No Tell Lover

3)     Hard To Say I'm Sorry (minus Getaway, as featured in film Summer Lovers)

4)     Love Me Tomorrow

5)     Hard Habit To Break

6)     You're The Inspiration

7)     Will You Still Love Me?

8)     If She Would Have Been Faithful…

9)     I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love

10)  Look Away

11)  What Kind Of Man Would I Be?

12)  You’re Not Alone

13)  Here In My Heart

14)  Feel (w/Horns)

15)  Love Will Come Back




Few of the major hits are missing, though Stay The Night, Along Comes A Woman and Prima Donna (a non-hit also from the ill-fated Two Of A Kind soundtrack) are three of the better tracks David Foster produced for the band, a period they have mixed feeling about (especially in the loss of their horn section) form their 16 and 17 albums.  Otherwise, you have to buy the entire albums depending on what song you want, even the ones above, if you want the full length versions EXCEPT that 16 is missing the original full length version of Love Me Tomorrow, one of the band’s best 1980s tracks and maybe the closest Foster came to recapturing the band in its early years.


Since there was more than enough room on both CDs for longer versions of some of the songs, that is a shortcoming of this set and we don’t want to hear some silliness about royalties.  The point is to keep the original albums sellable, though we actually get new kinds of edits different from the earlier ones.  Even the Classical end to Love Me Tomorrow ends differently than in previous cutaways.


So why is Chicago still popular and their music enduring despite changes to the industry for better and more often for worse?  Because they create original music that is about something, is at its best, honest and has a depth of honesty that was uncommon for love songs in its time and as “harder” music more about fast living, idiocy, anger and even outright hate has become popular (and burns out faster), this is music with an edge that can still be about the human state without denying and desecrating it.  Some have said that so many love songs from anyone is unrealistic and sets up false expectations that harder music just throws away, but also throws away much more, is often phony and “frontin’” while this is music that is intelligent and mature by comparison with no need to prove anything to anyone.


It is about life lived and lived well, beyond trivial materialism, flash and pointlessness.  That is why their music is alive and well decades later and will continue to be long after.  Now that’s something to celebrate!



The PCM 2.0 16/44.1 Stereo is pretty good and better than many older CD versions, despite editing complaints.  The only thing holding back some of these songs are the CD format’s limits.  Versus some audiophile versions of the oldest songs, which sound surprisingly new, fresh and vibrant, those classic hits sound older than they should and even suggest second-generation copies being used in spots, possibly from the unnecessary editing process.


Audiophiles will want to know how good this really is.  Outside of those who swear by vinyl, the best three versions of the band’s albums in the digital realm are all out of print.  The first album, Chicago Transit Authority (1969) was issued by Columbia as a 24K Gold CD that after all these years, still sounds better than the latest versions here of the same hit tracks (1, 3, 5) and though not a perfect CD by today’s standards, is still highly collectible.  The second album simply entitled Chicago (1970) and Chicago V (1972) are even better, issued in the high definition DVD-Audio format.  The song versions here (2, 4, 6 + 5 respectively) cannot compete against the MLP (Meridian Lossless Packing) versions off of the master tapes and with a choice between stereo and 5.1 mixes, fans have sent those discs (as of this posting) to $75 per copy!  Too bad the whole catalog did not arrive in that format.


As I listened to the latter part of the second CD, it was like hearing the few good songs The Supremes made after Diana Ross left (Stone Love, Nathan Jones) reminding us that the group was popular for more than its lead singer.  In Chicago’s case, Cetera was not their only lead to begin with and though they became more of a singles act as their albums progressed, they are one of the best bands alive when they really apply themselves.


Songs like Will You Still Love Me?, If She Would Have Been Faithful… and even Look Away proves that the heart and soul of the band is there.  However, they have had a rough road since those hits, including mixed concerts on DVD and HD-DVD.  These are solid, underrated musicians and the vocal talent is still there after all these years.  Most bands from their time and many later cannot claim that.  They still have the talent and power to go a few rounds with the latest bands in most cases and still tour regularly.


With this set released, maybe we’ll see the rise of the band again to peak form making more great records and putting them in the forefront where they belong.  Until then, we’ll listen to this and hope.



For more on Chicago, try this link for our review of their concert on HD-DVD with Earth, Wind and Fire, which has additional links of interest:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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