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Well, OK... 'Chicago 17' is only a perfect AOR album with perfect ballads and good 80's feelings. But this album was part of my childhood and for these reason please me also today. Since Journey and Toto please me overly I think that is clear that this album please me. But I do not have a rational justification as to why this occurs.

'Chicago 17' is the last Chicago album with vocalist/bass player Peter Cetera and, as i noted in previous paragraph is a perfect AOR album. The music, in general, is similar to Toto and Journey or Supertramp (post 'Breakfast...') but with more POP Jazz flavour. Not for arrangements (in general Rock) but only for construction. A good albums for comparison may know (despite the obvious differences of style) 'Toto IV' (Toto) or Journey's 'Raised On Radio' also if Magnum or Asia could approach it without causing major popular uprisings. Certainly if you use as term of paragon a song as 'We Can Stop The Hurtin'' you would not be able to give me reason because this song is an interesting Funky Disco POP interesting brasses. 'Hard Habit to Break', 'Remember The Feeling' and 'You're the Inspiration' are three great ballads that remember me Journey's ballads, from which they derive in every way (forgive me but I see it like this ... What's wrong with having this vision?).

In general 'Chicago 17' is an 80's AOR album, I repeat. And the production (by David Foster) is perfect in this sense. In fact the POP part of music emerge without stifling the other components of the music. Unfortunately, this type of production makes it too Funky POP songs like 'Only You' or 'We Can Stop The Hurtin''. And I do not like it sends down the drain the black component of Funky. Clearly this fact not affect the final result of this album, a good album, in general.

Clearly we must use great caution in approaching this version of Chicago with Toto, Journey, ELO, Asia, Magnum, Ten or Supertramp but these are the bands that I advise you to pull over if you like an album as 'Chicago 17'.

Report this review (#252769)
Posted Thursday, November 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
2 stars CHICAGO XVII (oh, wait a minute, that's '17' - by 1984, we weren't supposed to understand Roman numerals, right ??). O.K. I didn't intend on submitting a review of this POP album, but its strong parts are, well, strong, so any reader/listener with an open mind may find something to appreciate here. I strongly admire their brand of inventive Brass-Rock so it's interesting to hear how the band have evolved to (unfortunately) cater for the masses during these rather 'plastic' times - I'll try and nudge their (somewhat) syrupy reputation in a positive direction. Chicago have endured the loss of a very strong part of their chemistry with the accidental death of guitarist Terry Kath in 1978, indeed a sad, sad blow to their existence, future and inspiration. How to recover from such a sad blow ???..... Former 'SONS OF CHAMPLIN' leader Bill Champlin has been integrated within their ranks as second Keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist, and Bassist Peter Cetera has emerged as a strong composer/performer in his own right (for better or worse....). On this album we have the incredibly POPular hits 'Hard Habit To Break' (which I find to be a superb, catchy, multi-layered track, unfortunately penned by outsiders) and Cetera's own 'You're The Inspiration' (a tune he originally wrote for C & W icon Kenny Rodgers), both featuring excellent vocals from himself (and Champlin), but he doesn't contribute much Bass Guitar throughout because "when (producer) David Foster pulled out those Moog bass-lines, they sounded so good I put my Bass back in the case" (seemingly forever). There were 1 or 2 more decent tunes which garnered radio-play (the MTV clip to 'Stay The Night' is well done), but overall, the exciting creativity and jazzy twists were by now gone long gone. On a positive, this album is an incredible POP album and precursor to much of those over-the-top 80's productions (even a certain Richard Marx contributes backing vocals on a track) which could be considered as a forward-pushing move, but sadly, CHICAGO were now an idol of die-hard followers and a new crowd of POPsters who would probably regurgitate breakfast upon hearing Kath's mini-suite 'An Hour In The Shower' (from Chicago III). 2 stars. Nothing 'Prog' here, but a credible Pop/Rock album.
Report this review (#286993)
Posted Friday, June 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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.

Report this review (#386320)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | Review Permalink

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