Chicago is one of the most successful bands of all time. With over 100 million albums sold world wide, second only to The Beach Boys in Billboard charting singles among American bands, and the top band during the seventies it’s easy to get excited about the release of Chicago – Live In ’75.
1975 was perhaps the height of Chicago’s reign. The self described “rock and roll band with horns” has completed a hugely successful tour with the aforementioned Beach Boys, as well as eight consecutive gold studio albums and the emergence of Peter Cetera as the lead singer. The summer tour saw the two bands performing separately and coming together at the end in a finale that I will eternally be disappointed for not seeing. But with a heavy heart I have to report that for all their might, the heights Chicago reached in 1975 just do not translate on this recording.
At first all is well. Fans will be impressed with the two disc, 24 song track listing. The physical copy gets you a few little extras, including a poster and a plethora of behind the scenes photos, neatly packaged in a neat little box.
Even the opening few moments seem fine. Plenty of banter between the boys keeps it cheeky and fun, and the horns are as always, phenomenal. The rhythm section holds it’s own, and the instrumentation is fitting for the enormous stadium shows. Unfortunately, Cetera’s erratic and uneven vocal performance is quite simply, difficult to listen to. His falsetto is so badly supported and in general so badly out of tune that it makes me wonder what would have possessed the powers that be to choose this performance as the one to release. Cetera is so far off his game, that the more impressive elements of the recording don’t matter.
We’ve seen so many bands releasing classic live performances in album form. In the past twelve months alone, Leonard Cohen, ABBA, Neil Young and Queen have all had successful live releases, but Chicago cannot say the same. This recording needs some serious remastering, but even so at the end of the day it’s Chicago. The songs are amazing and any fan of the band will be happy to add this to the collection. I’m just not sure it will be coming off the shelf too often.