Adecade after the recording of this excellent live album Chicago had become pretty much a by-word for the kind of simpering, platinum-selling AOR balladry that would ultimately make their name. Back in 1972 though they were riding high on the success of Chicago V (their first US No.1 album) and considered a serious proposition, purveying a highbrow amalgam of prog, jazz and rock. Live In Japan wasn’t released until 1975 – the band’s own admittedly inferior Live At Carnegie Hall had originally been released in ’71 – and then only in... Japan.
This title finally appeared on CD in the States in ‘96, released by the band themselves, but now at last this much sought-after item has been released in a replica sleeve, complete with a lyric sheet insert so small it might as well have been scripted in Japanese.
In fact, Chicago sing two songs (Lowdown and Questions 67 & 68) in the local lingo, as they did for the whole tour. They’re oddities, but the rest is bold, brassy pomp with Terry Kath, Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera in fine voice on the likes of 25 Or 6 To 4, Saturday In The Park and Beginnings.
The epic Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon will surprise anyone who thought there wasn’t much more to Chicago than Habit To Break, while their cover of Spencer Davis Group’s I’m A Man still rocks 40-plus years later.