OUT NOW: Chicago, CHICAGO LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL COMPLETE
It was April 1971 when the band Chicago made history: they were the first non-classical act to perform six days in a row at the legendary venue. The group's eight-show run (including a pair of matinees) between April 5-10, 1971, was captured for Chicago's first live album, Chicago Live at Carnegie Hall, released in October of that same year. The record was a hit with fans, peaking at #3 on the Billboard 200 for the week of January 15, 1972. The #1 album in America that week: Carole King's Music. At #2: Don McLean's American Pie.
Last year (2021) marked 50 years since those fabled performances, inspiring the updated CHICAGO LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL COMPLETE, a 16-CD set that captures all eight concerts in their entirety. The expansive box set is packed with extras: there's a 28-page booklet with vintage photos, replicas of all three(!) posters that came with the original vinyl release, liner notes by music historians David Wild and Jimmy Pardo, original Chicago member Lee Loughnene (who also remastered the set with engineer Tim Jessup) and archivist Jeff Magid.
"Probably on the first night, that initial 'Oh my God, we're playing Carnegie Hall!," remembered trumpeter Lee Loughnane to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette recently when asked if the group felt any pressure taking such a prestigious stage back in 1971. "And then you start playing and you're done. It's like a ballplayer coming out for the All-Star Game and going, 'This is like a big game!' and then you start playing the game and you forget about it. You just keep playing. We didn't think it was that good of an album, initially. We were amazed that it sold a million copies, but when I listen to it now, we played pretty damn good, a lot better than I ever gave us credit for at the time. And it was neat going back to relive that week, for me."
The new version of the album allowed Loughnatne and company to create a whole new experience for fans, even those who know the original album intimately.
"We were down to being able to turn the instruments up and add highs and lows and mid-range and all the other things that you can do, especially now, with recordings and make the sound 'in your face,' the trumpet player shared. "We made the eight shows more like you're sitting in the audience at Carnegie Hall."
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