Chicago VI


Columbia Records, 1973

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


The past week of my life has easily been the most stressful and emotional time I have ever had, without question. Why that is I won’t detail for a bevy of reasons, but it’s one of those contextual items that shapes the words that flow forth from my pen (figuratively speaking of course).

At our most basic level, we listen to music for entertainment. Shocker, I know, but it is the truth. But as I grow older and experience more and more events and places, I have come to realize how much music impacts my life. Lately, I imagine I sound like a broken record stating the obvious – in fact, if memory serves, I have made this point in my last few reviews.

This was not the first time I had listened to Chicago VI; after all, the boys from the Windy City were my first favorite band and were in that position for many years. But for the first time, I made a connection with the material that was more than just enjoyment.

In the case of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Chicago VI, we have not a bad album, but certainly not a great piece of work. It is the definition of average in most respects, with the exception of a few standout pieces. Yet this week, it was comfort food in the best possible way. It is one of Chicago’s more lighthearted efforts; marking a period when they began to stop pushing the envelope musically.

After years of touring and releasing records in a very quick fashion, Chicago needed a change of scenery. This album marked the first time they would record at the Caribou Ranch in the Rockies. That change in scenery is reflected in the music and production, which is much cleane rand has a polished sheen. It’s not daring or adventurous, but it is seasoned and proficient.

By the time Friday rolled around, Jeff was not in the proper mindset to sit down and listen to one of the bevy of new albums he has scooped up lately. This was not a time for SMiLE or the new Portishead release. Instead, I wanted something familiar, something easy, something that wasn’t going to completely challenge my perceptions on how I listened to a four-minute pop song.

So I sat back, put the headphones on, and just listened to Chicago VI spin. Sure, the record starts off on an acidic note with Robert Lamm’s assault on critics, but as it progresses, things tend to set in place. By the time “Feeling Stronger Everyday” rolled around, I was caught up in the spirit of the song, even defiant to a certain point. It really is the perfect album closer, focused on the future rather than the past. Sure, the song itself is about a romance, but to me, it became a creed of sorts.

The problem with focusing on the personal impact of an album is that it tends to ignore the practical and critical aspects of a record. More to the point, doing so makes it practically impossible to criticize that focus. I cannot deny this, and readily admit that perhaps this review has failed to give you, the reader, a definitive glimpse into what Chicago VI is.

Yet, the beauty of music that most people could give a **** about what I had to say about the snare drum on “In Terms Of Two” or the bass on “Rediscovery.” You read what I have to say, and move on, because why? Music is so intensely personal. There are 1,000 different reasons people could take pleasure in the ending coda to “Feeling Stronger Everday.” Mine is different than yours. Yet I’m here to say there is pleasure to be had.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2008 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.