Revisiting Chicago's horn-heavy second album

Chicago will perform Friday night at Stir Cove.


Who: Chicago | When: 8 p.m. Friday | Where: Stir Cove outside Harrah's Casino in Council Bluffs | Tickets: $41 at, Ticketmaster retail locations, by phone at 800-745-3000 or at the ticket kiosk at Harrah's | Information: or 712-329-6499

Chicago is a rock band with an extensive discography. Sure, we all know “Saturday in the Park,” “You're the Inspiration” and other hits, but those songs are a small part of the band's catalog, which includes hundreds of tunes and 26 albums.

According to, an online repository of musical knowledge, the band's second album is its best.

Before Chicago hits the stage at Stir Cove on Friday, we decided to revisit that record, which though self-titled eventually came to be known as “Chicago II.”

Chicago, “Chicago,” 1970 (Columbia)

Talk about horn rock.

That one element, which often defines Chicago, is a huge part of this record, considered the band's breakout. Even “In the Country,” which gets into a guitar groove, is eventually sidelined by lots of smooth rock trumpet.

Horns dominate everything — and unfortunately make most of the record feel like flavorless soft rock.

Three entire movements or song cycles make up the album, which is sort of odd in that the individual songs of those cycles don't have a lot in common other than sounding like good fits for the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Though it's considered Chicago's breakthrough album, most of the record's hits are pretty forgettable. “Colour My World” was a regular for the slow dance at many '70s proms, and its repetitive piano melody is perfect for an awkward slow dance, but not much else.

“25 or 6 or 4” is, of course, the album's high point. It takes those horn melodies, Peter Cetera vocals, groovy guitars and vocal harmonies and expertly combines them into a driving tune that will have us dancing around at Friday's concert.

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