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The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning ()

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Rhino began its elaborate Chicago reissue series in 2002 with The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning, a double-disc set that covers 39 hits from all of Chicago's eras -- from the early jazzy records, through the soft rock hits sung by Peter Cetera, to the post-Cetera adult contemporary records of the '80s, and beyond. It's the first compilation to cover this much ground, actually -- 1991's Group Portrait stopped around Cetera's departure -- and while it may go a little bit further than some would want (a cover of Louis Prima's "Sing, Sing, Sing" from their 1995 neo-swing album closes the set; it happens to feature the Gipsy Kings on support), it nevertheless is very satisfying, since it rounds up all of the hits, and Chicago were at their very best on their hits. For anybody who has been holding on to all three Greatest Hits collections, this will replace them all, since it has almost every song from all three, plus remastered sound. Indeed, this is the definitive word on the group -- perhaps a fan favorite or two is missing, but everything you need is here, in a more concise, user-friendly shape than the Group Portrait box while offering more than any of the hits collections. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi Hide synopsis

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