Chicago’s 1971 live album, Chicago at Carnegie Hall, is receiving a massive deluxe edition for its 50th anniversary. The self-appointed “rock band with horns” became the first rock act to sell out Carnegie Hall for a week, packing eight shows at the prestigious venue between April 5 and 10, 1971.
They recorded each performance and culled the highlights for the original Chicago at Carnegie Hall. Now, they’ll be releasing all eight performances for the first time as part of a new 16-CD box set, replete with replica show posters, excerpts from the original concert programs and a 28-page photo booklet.
The set hits shelves on July 16.
The original Chicago at Carnegie Hall comprised songs from the group's first three eponymous albums, each of which were certified platinum or better by the RIAA. Clocking in at two hours and 45 minutes, the quadruple LP reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200, was certified platinum and remains the band's best-selling live album.
It captures the band at the peak of its live powers, showcasing Terry Kath's incendiary blues-rock guitar solos, Danny Seraphine's furious drumming and the vocal triple threat of Kath, Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera. Chicago at Carnegie Hall was not without controversy, though. Columbia Records was skeptical that such a hulking collection would sell, agreeing to release it only after producer James Guercio pleaded on the band's behalf.
Some members were also less than thrilled with the finished product. “There’s a lot of good material, but there’s a lot of stuff that I was unhappy with and I didn’t think should be released," horn player and founding member Lee Loughnane said in the band's official bio. "There was a history behind that record. The story, the marketing, all of that stuff went into it. The program, the pictures of the building, the diagrams, all of that was part of the charisma, and it worked."
Trombonist James Pankow was blunter in his assessment. “I hate it,” he said. “The acoustics of Carnegie Hall were never meant for amplified music, and the sound of the brass after being miked came out sounding like kazoos.”
The deluxe edition of Chicago at Carnegie Hall should assuage these criticisms, as Loughnane and engineer Tim Jessup spent nearly a year working through more than 40 concert tapes at Loughnane’s home studio to remaster each concert.
The Chicago at Carnegie Hall deluxe edition will retail for $180 and is available for preorder on Rhino's website now.