A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
Chicago-Loving Audiophiles of the World, gather round, this is the week we took on one of the toughest challenges in all of Analog Rockdom — Chicago II.
Ever played one? Then you know that the average copy of this album is an unmitigated DISASTER. The smeary sub-gen brass alone is enough to drive you from the room.
To a list of the album’s faults you can confidently add some or all of the following: blurry out of control bass; opaque veiled mids; rolled off highs, or no highs, whichever the case may be, common to virtually every pressing you find: plain old distortion; and, last but not least, the kind of compressed, lifeless sound that manages to make even the best songs on the album tedious.
And that’s not easy to do — this one album spawned not one, not two, but three still-catchy tunes that get played plenty these days.
360 Original or Red Label Reissue
Both can be good. I did the shootout (TP) and often tried to guess the label for the copy I was hearing, for fun more than anything else. I have to admit that my batting average was not much better than chance. The 360s tend to be a little fuller and smearier, but plenty of red label copies sound that way and some 360s don’t, so trying to match the sound to the label was even more pointless than usual. (When comparing pressings in a shootout it’s too late for the label to have any predictive value. We’ve already bought the records, cleaned them all up and now just want to know what they actually sound like — not which ones might be the best, but which ones are the best. The time for guessing games has passed. Of course, if we do actually figure out what the right stampers are, this helps us next time around. In the case of this album probably around 2013 or 2014.) (more…)