Chicago – Live at Carnegie Hall


Artist: Chicago
Title: Live at Carnegie Hall
Recorded at Carnegie Hall 1971
Released: 1971
Label: Columbia
Format: Vinyl
Musicians: Terry Kath-guitar and vocals, Peter Cetera-Bass and vocals, Robert Lamon-keyboards and vocals, Lee Loughname-trumpet, background vocals, percussion, guitar, Walter Parazaider-woodwinds, percussion, background vocals, James Pankow-trombone and percussion, Danny Seraphine-Drums
Producer: James William Guercio
Engineer: Don Pulse, Bud Grahm, Hank Altman, Aaron Baron, Larry Dathstrom

So I picked up this monstrosity Chicago 4-record box for a song not knowing if I would like it. It turns out to be more interesting than first meets the eye.

First of all the packaging is somewhat bizarre. I mean you have your normal expected stuff for a box set, the four records in individual sleeves in a box outer sleeve and a booklet. The booklet doesn’t tell much, it’s mostly pictures and for some reason they are all done with red lighting. I don’t know why they did that , but they are not much to look at. Things then turn kind of unexpectedly strange for along with the booklet on a separate single-fold pamphlet about the same size as the large booklet is a whole disorientation about voting in political elections on front. Then when you open it there is a long sheet of columns for all 50 states regarding the 1972 voting laws with each state, voting registration deadlines, the ways you can register, whether or not you can register by mail and the dept of government for each state if you have voting questions for each state. Then on the back there are foot notes.
What all this has to do with the record set, the concert or the music, I do not know. I’m not against political messages in music (as long as it’s not supremacy speech and such), but why did they stick that in the box set? Weird.

Anyway, I was not sure I would like this box set being familiar with Chicago’s sound, but after the first song, it kept getting better. The versions of the songs you hear in this concert are completely different from the studio version and not just in the obvious sense. They have more energy and this band likes to jam. Some of the songs that are normally 3 to 4 minutes long in the studio version and maybe normally 5 minutes long in the average concert, get extended beyond expectations here. There are a couple of songs in this set that are 15 minutes plus!
For example, “Southern California Purples” (a tune I was not familiar with) is almost 16 minutes in length and contains some surprises such as rocking out and a section with a cover of The Beatles “I Am The Walrus” I think as I misplaced my notes.
Again on record number two, side one on the first song they do a cover of “Rock around the clock” made famous by Bill Haley & the Comets.

The first record and first track start out a bit rough were sound quality is concerned, however, by the second and finally third song it gets a  bit better. Sound quality on live LPs is usually ok to good, but the sound quality experienced with this set only serves to prove that it is absolutely live and very little studio enhancement or trickery was done. I for one, appreciate it. In fact, from the needle drop it is about 2 minutes before you hear the first note of music. Until then you get to hear tune-up, assembly, etc. This only leaves no doubt that you are listening to a true live LP.

In fact, it’s long, but for your listening enjoyment, here is the song “Southern California Purples”. Personally, I had no idea Chicago could rock out like this. You don’t hear this version on any of their studio LPs. To hear Chicago go hard, you have to go live.

MUSIC = 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars


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