Chicago - Chicago Five

Chicago V represents a pivotal juncture in the band's discography. Subsequent albums veered decidedly towards a more mainstream, pop-oriented sound, diverging from the progressive psychedelic vibe of their initial three releases. As an ardent admirer of their early work, I regard Chicago V (1972), along with their eponymous 1969 debut (Chicago Transit Authority), II, III, and the live album IV, as emblematic of a period marked by the band's zenith of creativity.

While the band did flirt with pop influences in their early years, producing chart-toppers like "Saturday in the Park" and "Color My World," Chicago V transcends mere pop sensibilities. Instead, the album effortlessly traverses the spectrum between their mainstream hits and the untamed, electrifying acid jazz-rock of the late '60s and early '70s. Particularly notable are the "big band" style arrangements on V, predominantly penned by Robert Lamm, which maintain the band's instrumental virtuosity and penchant for experimentation showcased in their earlier works.

Yet, appreciating the intricate complexity of the arrangements on V requires a discerning ear. These compositions showcase dense ensemble interplay, unconventional time signatures (frequent utilization of waltz-like 3/4 and 6/8 rhythms, among others), and unconventional chord voicings, underscoring the album's expansive stylistic breadth.

In 2011 Warner Music Japan released this classic album in 5.1 surround sound and in stereo on a Hybrid SACD. This edition comes with a detailed description and lyrics, along with a bonus track "Dialogue (live version recorded in 1972)." The bulk of the mix is up front, with some sprinkling of horns, second keyboards, guitars and backing vocals placed in the rear speakers. Remix Engineer Paul Klingberg makes moderate use of the Kurzweil KSP8, placing reverb in all channels that pulls from instruments up front, allowing for a live feeling in the mix. Thus, listeners will find themselves placed in a room with the band mainly up front, but with enough space to feel like they are being somewhat immersed in the music. The multi-channel mix takes the somewhat narrow flat stereo mix and gives it a new life making this release a welcome addition to a surround sound collection.

Note: subsequent to this release and a few years later, Rhino released all of the studio albums mixed in quad as part of an exciting Quadio Box set. Most immersionists will find the quad edition to be far superior to this version.

This edition released August 17, 2011.


 Format Info

5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo Multi-Channel Hybrid SACD (OOP). Also available via streaming services.



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 About the Author

Wesley Derbyshire Profile Image

Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.


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