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Chicago Chicago 25 [Aka: The Christmas Album] album cover
2.64 | 14 ratings | 1 reviews | 7% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Little Drummer Boy (4:05)
2. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (3:23)
3. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (4:03)
4. The Christmas Song (3:40)
5. O Come All Ye Faithful (4:47)
6. Child's Prayer (3:24)
7. Feliz Navidad (4:18)
8. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (3:57)
9. Christmas Time Is Here (3:49)
10. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (3:30)
11. What Child Is This? (4:41)
12. White Christmas (2:29)
13. Silent Night (3:18)
14. One Little Candle (1:27)

Total time 50:51

Track list from 2003 expanded reissue:
1. Winter Wonderland (4:19) *
2. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (3:28)
3. Jolly Old St. Nicholas (3:35) *
4. Little Drummer Boy (4:05)
5. This Christmas (4:03) *
6. Fleiz Navidad (4:15)
7. Bethlehem (4:07) *
8. The Christmas Song (3:36)
9. O Come All Ye Faithful (4:45)
10. Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer (3:44) *
11. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (4:01)
12. Sleigh Ride (3:55) *
13. Silent Night (3:18)
14. What Child Is This (4:38)
15. Christmas Time Is Here (3:46)
16. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (3:23)
17. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (3:56)
18. Child's Prayer (3:23)
19. One Little Candle (1:24)
20. White Christmas (2:28)

* Bonus tracks

Total time 74:09

Line-up / Musicians

- Keith Howland / guitar, keyboards (3), vocals
- Bill Champlin / organ, electric piano (8,11), keyboards (1), guitar (8), programming (8,11), synth bass (8), synth vibes (7), vocals (1,3,8,11)
- Robert Lamm / piano (4,10,11), electric piano (2,7,9), vocals (4,7,9,12)
- Lee Loughnane / trumpet, piccolo, flugelhorn, vocals (10)
- James Pankow / trombone, keyboards (1), backing vocals
- Walter Parazaider / alto (7,11,13) & tenor (1-4,6-13) saxophones, flutes
- Jason Scheff / bass (2,4,5,8,10), electric upright bass (1,6,7,9,12), fretless bass (3,11), keyboards & programming (5), vocals (1,2,5,13)
- Tris Imboden / drums, percussion

- Tim Pierce / electric (13) & acoustic (5,14) guitars
- Roy Bittan / organ (1,3,6), piano (14), accordion (1,6,7), keyboards (13), synth bells (6), producer
- John Durrill / synthesizer (6)
- George Black / programming (5,6,13,14)
- Carmen Twillie / backing vocals (3,7,12), chorus vocals & choir director (1)
- Michael Amezcua / chorus vocals (1)
- Ryan Bittan / chorus vocals (1)
- Alex Brown / chorus vocals (1)
- Tamara Champlin / chorus vocals (1)
- Alvin Chea / chorus vocals (1)
- Gia Ciambotti / chorus vocals (1)
- Gary Falcone / chorus vocals (1)
- Clark Gable / chorus vocals (1)
- Bobbi Page / chorus vocals (1)
- Oren Waters / chorus vocals (1)
- Monalisa Young / chorus vocals (1)
- Ryan Kelly / children's choir conductor (6)
- Luis Conte / percussion

Releases information

Artwork: John Kosh

CD Chicago Records ‎- CRD 3035 (1998, US)
CD Rhino Records ‎- R2 73892 (2003, US) With 6 bonus tracks in different running order, sub-titled "What's It Gonna Be, Santa" and new cover art

Thanks to snobb & easy livin for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CHICAGO Chicago 25 [Aka: The Christmas Album] ratings distribution

(14 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(7%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(7%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (21%)
Poor. Only for completionists (43%)

CHICAGO Chicago 25 [Aka: The Christmas Album] reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin


Between 1991 and 2006, Chicago were mainly active only as a live act. During that period, they rarely visited the studio, and when they did, it was almost exclusively to record other people's songs rather than their own. So it was that in 1998 the band decided to record a number of Christmas songs for this album, sub titled "Chicago 25". For the train-spotters wondering where "23" and "24" went, these are allocated to Volumes 1 and 2 of the "Heart of Chicago" compilations. This would be new lead guitarist Keith Howland's first album with the band, a role he continues to perform today.

There are of course no surprises here, the album simply presents fourteen Christmas songs played in the Chicago style. There is little opportunity for instrumental deviation, and the songs are kept short throughout. While it is by definition rather cheesy, songs such as "Little drummer boy". Complete with choir, do lend themselves rather well to the Chicago treatment.

One of the more notable tracks is the version of "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer", which is delivered as a bluesy, funky stomper, but by and large the renditions are faithful. "What child is this" features fine harmonies again, the song being sung to the tune of "Greensleeves".

The only new composition by a band member here is "A child's prayer", written by Lee Loughnane and John Durrill. It is though written very much in the traditional Christmas style, and should not be taken too seriously as a new Chicago song.

Clearly this album is not intended as anything other than a festive indulgence, and needs to be seen on that basis. It would be easy to simply dismiss it as being unworthy of the Chicago name, but to do so would be a severe disservice to the fine musicianship on display here, and the pleasant listening which the album offers.

In 2003, this album was re-released with six additional tracks under the new title "What's It Gonna Be, Santa?" and at the same time this album was withdrawn.


The Christmas six

"What's it gonna be Santa" is a repackaging of "Chicago 25, the Christmas album" with six additional tracks added.

Phil Ramone, who had worked with the band before on a couple of albums, was brought back as producer in 2003, the original intent being to record a complete new album. In the end though, cost and time factors precluded this, and the decision was taken to complete the album by adding all the tracks from "The Christmas album". The original tracks are resequenced and the new ones interspersed to create an entirely new running order. The packaging is completely revised too, effectively creating a new album.

Among the new tracks is a version of "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" which affords the band the opportunity to customise the lyrics to suit their own requirements in a band context. The track is also notable as being guitarist Keith Howland's first lead vocal for the band. The one new band composition is "Bethlehem", written by Bill and Tamara Champlin. The song has a CSN feel, with fine vocal harmonies being the centrepiece.

The six extra tracks here are certainly a welcome enhancement to the collection. While very much more of the same, even one new band composition was a welcome indication that they were still very much alive. The festive nature of the product will be dismissed by many as unworthy of investigation. This is though a highly credible collection of familiar songs.

Oddly, this release does not appear to have been allocated a sequential number in the Chicago discography, simply inheriting the number 25 from its predecessor.

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