Me, I love In the Country. I'd love to hear that live today. I think Jason and Lou could pull it off. :) Also love Poem for the People, The Road, Movin In and Memories of Love. But my all time favorite Lee horn solo is on this album, Anxiety's Moment, so my all time fav from this album would be Ballet for a Girl in Buchanan. :) Really the whole album is the greatest.
I never liked Fancy Colours much. It's a bit dated in an Austin Powers kind of way. Most of the rest of the album holds up wonderfully, though, and Terry Kath really shines vocally and on guitar on this one. It Better End Soon is still one of the most aggressive classic rock songs I can think of.
Yeah, I shouldn't have started my comments with the "bad": Fancy Colours. Some people like that tune. It's my least favorite on a really great album. Here's my Amazon.com review from 2006:
Classic Chicago album., February 20, 2006
Okay...I gave it 5 stars. It deserves 4.5, but with early Chicago, I'll err on the side of upgrading it. This has some great hits (25 or 6 to 4, Make Me Smile, Color My World). At this stage, however, the band was very much an albums band, not a singles band. There are some incredible parts to this album. The best thing about this album is 10 to 20 minute song-suites a la classical music. There are about 3 of those suites on this album. Those suites run the gauntlet from jazz to classical to hard acid 1960s rock a la Woodstock. The worst moments are where some of the swinging 60s sound a little dated...a bit like those transitions in the Austin Powers movies. Especially "Fancy Colors." There are about 5 clunkers, and some of the lyrics are simplistic. That said, this is a double album...and there is far more than 1 album's worth of 5 star stuff here. Don't let any of the negative comments turn you off. Jump in...the clunkers aren't that awful, and the great stuff is totally worth the price of admission.
Thank you for starting this discussion, Trent.
Wow, I really like this album! My favorite are West Virginia Fantasies and To Be Free in the part of The Ballet.
I was very happy that I could finally listen to them at Live in Tokyo last February.
That album is what turned me on to these guys back in about 75. I would sit in my parents 1975 Volvo station wagon and listen to the 8 track of Chicago II over and over. That music still resounds to me today and is as poignant and awesome as ever.
For me it's the ulimate "rock song with horns" - 25 or 6 to 4. RL's comment that he was "just trying to write a rockin' tune" is like Michelangelo saying "I was just trying to bring a little color to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel". Also, I always thought "Wake Up Sunshine" was an overlooked gem - and I believe I once heard RL say it was the first song he wrote for Chicago. And of course the magnificent "Ballet". CTA could not be topped, but II came close.
I've been saying it for years -- front to back, Chicago II is still my favorite Chicago album. Every song has something to say, and Movin' In still knocks me out right off the bat. Colour My World is "our song" still after 30 years of marriage, Make Me Smile still does just that, and It Better End Soon still packs a powerful message 40 years hence. Poem for the People, Fancy Colours, and of course 25or 6 to 4 round out a rocking, swinging, message-packed album.
Introduction may have been my "wow" song, and Beginnings is still my all-time favorite Chi song, but II does it for me every time. II, V, CTA, and VII form my upper tier of favorite Chicago albums.
"In the Country" is my definitive favorite from this album and possibly my favorite Chicago song - though that is a tough choice. While II stands among the great albums of all time, it seems to me that there was a dip in recording/mixing quality from CTA. I am one of the "new" fans being born in '79 and first heard Chicago in the late eighties - and shortly after began my quest to obtain all of their albums. When I finally purchased CTA I was blown away by the production. One example, I am not one to spend much of my time listening to drum solos and I am not a musician by any stretch of the imagination, but when I heard CTA, I said to myself, "I could listen to Danny's drumming all day, just on its own." Not just because he was a great drummer, but because that recording is so alive and vibrant. Moving on to II, Great songs - check, Great arrangements - check, Great performances - check, great recording - not so much.
I'm kinda curious if anyone else has an opinion or insight into this.