This article was corrected on May 7, 2002.
Rhino Records has acquired the coveted catalog of Chicago, one of the bestselling American rock bands of all time, and will begin rolling out the band’s original albums and new compilations beginning in July.
Chicago’s 26 albums will be released chronologically in blocks of three after a two-CD “Complete Greatest Hits” is released July 2. Deluxe editions of “Chicago Transit Authority,” “Chicago “II” and “Chicago III,” which will include unreleased material, will hit retail stores July 16.
“There aren’t catalogs of this magnitude available in which the band is still performing,” Warner Strategic Marketing president Scott Pascucci told Daily Variety. It is the first major deal for Pascucci, who took over Rhino eight months ago as the label was further assimilated into the Warner Music Group.
The time table for the releases has yet to be determined, though the second set of three — the multidisc “At Carnegie Hall,” “V” and “VI” — is penciled in for late this year. Rhino plans to do thematically based compilations of the band’s music, but a boxed set is way down the road.
Pascucci said Rhino will “find the right pacing” for issuing the CDs. The label has taken a similar three-at-a-time approach with the catalog of Elvis Costello; the third set — “Armed Forces,” “Imperial Bedroom” and “Mighty Like a Rose” — is slated for a fall release. Acts from the 1970s have seen their hits packages do remarkably well in the last six months, most notably Pink Floyd and Barry Manilow, whose new compilations debuted in the top 10.
Redefining pop music
Chicago, known initially for its groundbreaking use of horns and then for redefining pop music in the 1970s and ’80s, recorded for Columbia during its initial heyday, releasing 14 albums between 1969 and 1982. Chicago moved to Warners, where it recorded until 1993, when the band turned in the still-unreleased “The Stone of Sisyphus” and Warners rejected it. After doing an album of big band standards for Giant, Chicago acquired the rights to its Columbia recordings and reissued them on their own Chicago imprint while also issuing a Christmas disc and two live albums.
The act began shopping its catalog, which has registered sales of more than 122 million albums, a little over a year ago. The band is currently not signed to a label for new recordings.
This summer, Chicago will embark on its 35th anniversary tour. To celebrate its alliance, Chicago gave a 75-minute concert at Rhino’s headquarters in West L.A. for the label’s employees. “When you’ve been playing for 35 years, there aren’t too many ‘firsts’ left,” founding member Robert Lamm said before the show. “But this is definitely the first time we’ve ever played a record company’s lobby.”