Rhino Records offers a new collection from progressive rockers Yes. The Yes Remixes set offers electonica-dance mixes of the band's classic tracks "Starship Trooper," "Siberian Khatru, "Tempus Fugit" and more by Yes guitarist Steve Howe's son, Virgil ("The Verge").
While Yes would eventually enter the techno era on its own, these earlier jams were never intended to be paired with "hooked-on" beats, and occasionally suffer for the grafting.
Others, such as "Awaken," become thoroughly modern drone-zone ambient creations that barely remind the listener that this was a '70s rock album track. Still, fans no doubt will be curious to hear how the speaker-gyrations of "Starship Trooper" fare with an extra beatbox behind them.
Fans of Rob D's "Clubbed to Death" orchestral-techno masterpiece from The Matrix soundtrack and "Furious Angels," from The Matrix Reloaded, can now get both on Furious Angels. Rob Dougan (who's reclaimed his name for this release) has just released an expanded version of his Furious Angels CD on Reprise, which offers 15 tracks that meld orchestra and techno beats for a string of innovative soundtrack-or-dance-club-ready songs.
There's a new "Clubbed to Death 2" included and an instrumental disc of 10 instrumental versions of songs from disc 1, along with videos for "Clubbed to Death" and "Furious Angels."
Columbia's Legacy arm offers another batch of Frank Sinatra anthologies: Sinatra Sings Gershwin, Sinatra Sings Cole Porter and the singer's first "concept" album from 1945, The Voice of Frank Sinatra, each with previously unreleased bonus tracks.
Motown has released a deluxe edition of Marvin Gaye's classic 1976 I Want You album, which includes a full extra CD of previously unreleased bonus tracks. The second disc is filled with alternate mixes and outtakes from the original sessions.
Following the release of last year's two-disc greatest hits set, Only the Beginning, Rhino Records has now unveiled the ultimate box set from Chicago. Featuring five CDs and a DVD of performances from Chicago's Arie Crown Theeater in 1972 and a promo film from 1979, the box includes more than 100 songs, including hits, band favorites, and three previously unreleased tracks from the fan-requested Stone of Sisyphus project.
Formed at DePaul University as The Big Thing, and initially signed to CBS Records as the Chicago Transit Authority, the band Chicago would quickly relocate from Chicago to Los Angeles, and live up to its early name, scoring nearly 50 Top 100 pop chart hits over the 20-year span from the release of its first album, Chicago Transit Authority, in 1969 and followup Chicago II in 1970 (which spawned "Make Me Smile" and "25 or 6 to 4" among others) to its last Top 10 hit from Chicago 19 in 1989 with "What Kind of Man Would I Be?"
Not surprisingly, the band went through several distinct periods of style and bursts of popularity during its 36-year career. In the late '60s and early '70s, the band popularized the use of a full horn section in jazz-rock fusion music and created a horn-rock movement that also included cross-town band Ides of March (whose founder Jim Peterik would go on to found Survivor) and Los Angeles based hitmakers Earth, Wind & Fire (who were also formed by a Chicago native, Maurice White). Chicago also focused on the grittier soulful vocal stylings of founding keyboardist Robert Lamm and guitarist Terry Kath more than in later years, when Peter Cetera's more "pop" voice would come to dominate the band's sound.
Despite their early albums' emphasis on long "suites" of progressive blues organ, R&B horns and jazzy guitar, they also tucked in a number of rock radio classic hits, from the above-mentioned tracks to the celebratory feel-good anthems "Saturday in the Park," "Feelin' Stronger Every Day," "Just You 'n' Me," "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long," "Baby What a Big Surprise" and their first No. 1 hit, 1976's "If You Leave Me Now."
The band hit a dark period when Kath accidentally shot himself in 1978, but found new direction and hitmaking in 1982 with their second No. 1 hit, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry." The band transformed itself in the '80s from a challenging and innovative rock fusion act into an adult contemporary pop love song factory. Peter Cetera's smooth easy listening vocals marked hits such as "Love Me Tomorrow," "Stay the Night," "Hard Habit to Break," You're the Inspiration" and "Along Comes a Woman."
While Cetera left to pursue a solo career in 1985, the band continued in the same vein with "Will You Still Love Me?" "I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love" and its third No. 1 hit, 1988's "Look Away."
The '90s found the band still releasing albums, if not scoring the Top 40 megasmashes of its first 20 years. They released an album of Chicago-ized big band standards and a Christmas album, as well as hits sets that included bonus tracks of more original pop-rock-horn music.
Noone who lived through the '70s can listen to the first three CDs of this boxed set without a flurry of memories coming to the fore. Chicago's sound dominated rock radio airwaves during that decade, and those horn charts still sound vibrant 30 years later. As I wrote this review, songs I'd nearly forgotten about rang strong and true through the speakers and the sunshine out my office window suddenly burned with the smells and heat of the summers of 1974 and 1976, full-force in my memory.
This is a wonderful box for rediscovery of a band that broke musical rules in getting to the top, not to mention staying there for decades of hits.
Chicago, still featuring original members Robert Lamm, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow and Walter Parazaider, will perform its impressive catalogue of hits live at Rosemont Theatre on Sunday, Aug. 10.