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Chicago - 1993 Stone Of Sisyphus

ARTIST: Chicago
ALBUM: Stone Of Sisyphus
LABEL: Unreleased
YEAR: 1993
CD REISSUE: 2008, Rhino Records, R2 491580


LINEUP: Robert Lamm - vocals, keyboards * Bill Champlin - vocals, keyboards * Dawayne Bailey - guitars, vocals * Jason Scheff - vocals, bass * Tris Imboden - drums * Lee Loughnane - trumpet, vocals * Jimmy Pankow - trombone * Walt Parazaider - woodwinds, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 All The Years * 02 Stone Of Sisyphus * 03 Bigger Than Elvis * 04 Sleeping In The Middle Of The Bed Again * 05 Mah Jongg * 06 Let's Take A Lifetime * 07 The Pull * 08 Here With Me (Candle In The Dark) * 09 Plaid * 10 Cry For The Lost * 11 Get On This * 12 The Show Must Go On


There is an interesting story to be told with this album. Technically to this day (at the time of writing this review at least), 'Stone Of Sisyphus' remains an officially 'unreleased' album, as the band and their label at the time (Warner Bros), had an immense falling out over the material. Suffice to say, the band were duly dropped after delivering many hit singles and Billboard denting albums over the previous ten years. The irony of it is: the band loved the album; the label hated it. Who is right and who is wrong? Only one answer right? lol! Chicago had, in my mind, released a terrific studio set in 1991 called 'Twenty1'. Superb songs such as 'You Come To My Senses' and the AORtastic 'What Does It Take' still couldn't prop up disappointing sales of the CD, particularly after their string of successful platters in the mid-late eighties. The following year, the band sought the advice of renowned producer Peter Wolf (of Wolf And Wolf and Vienna fame) after using the hit factory that was David Foster.

The Songs
The album touches on various styles. Let's work through them. Firstly the ballads. 'Bigger Than Elvis' sung by Jason Scheff, the tune a tribute to his dad who played in Elvis Presley's backing band. Scheff also takes the lead on 'Let's Take A Lifetime', a gentler affair. Changing tack, we head into the street smarts of urban central. Bill Champlin's funky 'Mah Jongg' and the opening track 'All The Years' could easily resound in Harlem, The Bronx or in the chic avenues of Miami. Robert Lamm contributes the very hi-tech and aggressive 'Sleeping In The Middle Of The Bed Again' which features a load of rap flavoured lyrics. Woah! When the band rock out it is infrequently.. unfortunately. However when they do, they sound great. The title track 'Stone Of Sisyphus' is brilliant, the verses sung by Lamm, the bridge and the chorus sung by guitarist Dawayne Bailey. This guys is blessed with an excellent voice, in much the same way as Journey's Deen Castronovo. Someone should give this guy a deal! (Frontiers.. how about it?). Bailey also contributes to 'Get On This', alongside Jimmy Pankow. This one is another full-on rocker. 'The Pull' is another good tune, a power-ballad of sorts, that brings together all the unique aspects of Chicago's sound, while the chorus on 'Here With Me' is killer!

In Summary
Long time time Chicago fans are split into two camps. Those that love the Chicago Transit Authority material from the early days with Terry Kath and Peter Cetera, or those who love the radio oriented material of the eighties produced by David Foster. 'Stone Of Sisyphus' will appease both camps suitably, and knowing that the band 'gave it their all' in the studio goes to show that they were deadly serious about the songs; something they admit was perhaps lacking on some of the other (and ironically.. successful) albums. Many of the songs have been scattered throughout subsequent compilation albums, but as an intact body of work, 'Stone Of Sisyphus' remains as iconic for its attitude, and for thumbing its nose at the Corporate bigwigs. As at June 2008, the album finally gets the official green-light on CD, courtesy of Rhino Records. At last, a grave injustice is finally righted!

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#1 | gdazegod on June 18 2008 05:21:03
Now released officially on CD thanks to Rhino Records. The article has been amended now after we had written that it was still unreleased. Not anymore! Thumbs Up

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