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Chicago - Chicago 17 CD (album) cover

CHICAGO 17

Chicago

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.55 | 27 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars David Foster, you're the inspiration

With their name firmly back in the charts following the success of the single "Hard to say I'm sorry" and of the album "Chicago 16", Chicago achieved their biggest commercial success ever with "Chicago 17". The album included two more huge hit singles "Hard habit to break" and "You're the inspiration". Much of the renewed success was in their native USA, but their name was once again becoming known in other countries, the two singles for example making the top 20 in the UK too, and the album making the top 30 here for the first time since "Chicago V".

Ironically, it was Peter Cetera who was becoming increasing dominant in the band, yet this would be his last album with them, since he would leave to pursue a solo career thereafter. Here though, the line up remains unchanged, and David Foster once again occupies the producer's chair.

It probably goes without saying then that this is another album of ballads and AOR. We can immediately remove any thoughts of the jazz rock and pioneering prog of the early albums, and simply hope for some quality music. With that strong proviso, the album delivers reasonably well. The opening "Stay the night" would be unrecognisable as a Chicago song were it not for Cetera's vocals, the heavy drum beat and typically adult rock lead guitar virtually guaranteeing a hit single (albeit a minor one). Thereafter, the 3-4 minute songs are all radio friendly and profoundly safe. That said, there is a diversity to the collection as a whole which retains the interest of the casual listener.

Overall, there is an energy to the tracks which was missing on "16", with even ballads such as "Hard habit to break" having a stronger bite. The mushiest of the ballads is the heavily orchestrated "Remember the feeling" but even this is notable for a really fine vocal performance by Cetera. On the other hand, the rocky "Along comes a woman" is very dance era Bee Gees, complete with falsetto vocals and thumping drums.

Perhaps the most intriguing of the writing credits is on "Please hold on", where band member Bill Champlin is assisted by producer David Foster and Lionel Richie ("Hello", "Three times a lady" etc.). The song has Richie's trademark all over it, and as such is the least Chicago like on the album. "Prima Donna" was used by Foster on the sound track of the film "Two of a kind", where he was music director. The film saw Olivia Newton- John and John Travolta reuniting, but was a box office flop. Not the best track on this album by any means either!

In all, a much more enjoyable album that its recent predecessors. This is very much a David Foster album, the band adapting to his way of working rather than the other way round. In fairness, the commercial success will be seen as vindication for such an approach.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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