Review By Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
In 1993, Chicago decided to take back the control of their music and make an album without the interference of suits from the label and their unreasonable demands to make syrupy top forty pop to please the executives and maintain chart position. This album was an effort to get back to their roots and as it turns out, one of their finest hours titled Stone of Sisyphus.
Although the band felt confident and excited about this recording the label hated it so the album was canned, leaving the band in shock and disbelief. It took all of this time for Chicago fans to hear this commendable production as an official release. So now the album has been transformed from a heralded boot legged classic into a legitimate release. The CD goes from the planned XXII to XXXII, and now celebrated by the band and their fans.
I love Chicago and always have but never heard of this album before. I am not a diehard fan that has everything they ever recorded however they were one of the first bands I took a liking to immediately when I first heard them back in the early seventies. I also feel that they are the first progressive rock band in a non-traditional sense (not as we know prog rock today). Their mixture of horns and keyboards was similar to what the early configuration of the Santana band was doing, just on a different level. I think it helped to spawn an entire generation of new music.
Stone of Sisyphus stands as lost gem reborn; a true representation of what Chicago was all about, a great mixture of rock, pop, and jazz-a progressive recording in the world of pop oriented music that only a band like Chicago could pull off. The title and lead off track is trademark Chicago followed by "Bigger Than Elvis", which reminded me of hit bound tracks like "Harry Truman" for instance from Chicago VIII. This album is loaded with potential hits, which is nothing new when this band releases an album.
"Sleeping In The Middle Of The Bed" is a departure from the norm. The track jumps from a rap to a rocking guitar into a pop gem that would find itself typically lodged in the top ten of any mainstream playlist. The insertion of rap into the recording I thought was very clever yet different and most difficult to pull off for a band like Chicago however, they do an exceptional job and allow for a quick transitions back to their meat and potatoes sound to keep you interested. "Let's Take a Lifetime" is a great ballad and one the band's best most catchy tracks on the album. It pulls on your heartstrings while offering the simple but true lyrics that every listener familiar with their history can relate to. In simple terms this stands as a rock solid release with no weak tracks, even the bonus demos are good.
I am glad this album has finally seen the light of day and now I realize why the band was so excited about this effort and was in total shock when the label turned their back on it. Chicago is the only band to chart in the Billboard top 40 for five consecutive decades and this is one testament to that accomplishment.