CHICAGO; "Chicago XXXII: Stone of Sisyphus," (Rhino) ***
JEFFREY FISHER, "Ocean of Consciousness" (Two Birds Flying) ***
Back in 1993, the band Chicago decided it had enough of the ballads. The band wanted to bring back the trademark horns and put together a rock album worthy of its 1970s heyday. They recorded it with producer Peter Wolf (not the Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band), and presented it to the Warner Bros. Records administrators.
The bigwigs hated it and sent the band back to the studio. Instead of releasing an album with new songs, the band released its big-band album "Night and Day." And left the record label.
Well, 15 years later, the lost Chicago album has finally been released. "Chicago XXXII: Stone of Sisyphus," ironically, was released by Rhino Records (a Warner Music Group label) a couple of weeks ago.
If the CD would have been released in 1993, it would have prolonged the Chicago/Warner Bros. marriage at least another two years. The songs are well-written, well-produced and fun to hear.
It starts with a blast of the title track and then winds down to a heartfelt "Bigger than Elvis," which was written for bassist Jason Scheff's father who played bass for Elvis Presley.
Chicago has always been a musician's group and this album runs through an array of styles that all feature the Chicago-style stamp. From "All the Years," to the funky "Mah-Jong" and the driving "The Show Must Go On."
There are a few ballads, "Cry for the Lost," "Here With Me (A Candle for the Dark)" and "Let's Take a Lifetime," that pepper the CD's dynamics.
The only draw back is the fact that the album sounds a bit dated, thanks to the overuse of those bell-chime keyboards that were so prevalent in the late '80s and early '90s.
Still, what was Warner Bros. thinking when the company refused to release the CD?
• THE WORLD IS A ROUGH PLACE and music can help soothe those emotional cuts and bruises. Tai Chi master, composer and author Jeffrey Fisher has released a two-CD work, "Ocean of Consciousness." The two CDs are musical concepts. Disc one is called "The Bhagavad Gita Suite," which was inspired by ancient scripture from India, which tells about an Indian prince who was visited by deity Sri Krishna, who in turn, instructs the prince to rise above the world.
The second disc, called "The River," is the musical embodiment of Fisher's idea of life.
The compositions on both discs are unobtrusive and introspective, with flecks of soothing textures that capture the listener's attention.
The "Suite" is comprised of short pieces that run between two minutes to just over seven minutes long. Titles such as "Life Eternal," "Acceptance," "The Wheel of Birth and Death" and "Transcendence" color the music, which is arranged in symphonic movements.
Three lengthy pieces of music make up "The River." The 13-minute flute-jazz number, "Love 360 Degrees," was written for Fisher's wife and the other two 19-minute pieces "Forest of Light" and "The River" wrap up the epic, not with rushing crescendos, but with a subtle, repetitive rhythm.
"Ocean of Consciousness" is a soothing way to wrap up a hard day at work or play.