Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Pop > Jazz > Chicago – Stone Of Sisyphus (aka Chicago XXXII/Rhino CD)

Chicago – Stone Of Sisyphus (aka Chicago XXXII/Rhino CD)


Sound: B     Music: B-



You could write at least one big book on how badly the Music Labels botched their business since the late 1980s and one way to see how badly is to hear the albums they refused to release for no good reason.  Chicago is one of the most enduring bands of all time, surviving everything from the death of one member to their most famous lead singer leaving for a solo career that burned out in the long run.  With Full Moon Records (via Warner) they made a great comeback in 1982 with Chicago 16.  After Peter Cetera left for good, they stayed with Warner and then wound up on their Reprise subsidiary still having hit albums and singles.  In late 1992, they landed Peter Wolf (not of the J. Geils Band and noteworthy solo success, who I’ve confused the producer of this album with before, who is from Austria) to produce their next album.  He wanted to bring back their “big horn” sound and by the following year finished what would have been their 22nd album.  So what happened?


Warner Bros. Records wanted them to stay a predicable middle-of-the-road legacy act and refused to release the album!  Yes, you read that correctly.  The label axed the release and the whole finished album was shelved.  For those in the know, the album became legend and like so many other little-known or discussed projects, that might have been the end of it, but now, the album is finally being released as an official part of the Chicago cannon and Stone Of Sisyphus (aka Chicago XXXII, ten albums later!) is being issued by Rhino Records, now ironically a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Records and a label who has since reissued their older catalog, including high-definition DVD-Audio versions (now very valuable and out of print) of their second and fifth albums.


This is just a CD version, but without any doubt or argument, this is the best Chicago album since their comebacks with 16 and 17, showing a band that is more than “alive again” and a project sop far ahead of any of Cetera’s solo work that it is not even funny.  Instead, Wolf lets the band be the band at their best with their richest set in so many years, you realize Warner made a commercially and critically fatal mistake.  I was not happy with what Wolf did with Starship (We Built This City) or Heart (These Dreams) or especially El DeBarge (Who’s Johnny) in taking artists and making them as “glossy commercial” (even On My Own with Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald is neither artists’ best work) as possible, so I am surprised about how rich this album really is by comparison.


The songs include:


1)     Stone Of Sisyphus

2)     Bigger Than Elvis

3)     All The Years

4)     Mah-Jong

5)     Sleeping In The Middle Of The Bed

6)     Let’s Take A Lifetime

7)     The Pull

8)     Here with Me (A Candle For The Dark)

9)     Plaid

10)  Cry For The Lost

11)  The Show Must Go On


12)  Love Is Forever (Demo)

13)  Mah-Jong (Demo)

14)  Let’s Take A Lifetime (Demo)

15)  Stone Of Sisyphus (No Rhythm Loop)



What this would have shown is that the band could still go a few rounds with any of the upstarts of the time, many who are rightly no longer with us and that new members like Jason Scheff, Dawayne Bailey and Tris Imboden had found their way into integrating into the band leaving the Cetera days behind.  This is especially good for Scheff, who never did get a fair shake succeeding Cetera.  But this album also shows the band on then verge of a new era of great music, a run which was killed by killing this album.  Now that it has finally arrived, it would be great to see them back in their full glory.  Hear it and you’ll experience why.


The PCM 16/44.1 2.0 Stereo sounds very good, has some good character to the mix as you would expect from an album handled by Wolf and sounds so good that this 25+ year old format is barely able to handle the sonics.  It is a shame Rhino did not include a bonus DVD with MLP DVD-Audio 5.1 and backup DTS and Dolby 5.1 tracks because this is an album that definitely deserves it.


There is also a nicely illustrated booklet that includes notes on the making of the album, tech notes and words about each track.  With that said, it belongs on the shelf with the band’s early classics and is definitely recommended.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com