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Chicago - Chicago XXX CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.23 | 29 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Might have been

Released in 2006, "Chicago 30 (XXX)" was the band's first album of new material since "Twenty 1" in 1991. This though needs to be qualified. They did record a further album in 1994, "Stone of Sisyphus", but that was rejected at the time by the record company, and only saw the light of day (officially) in 2008. They also recorded an album of Christmas songs in 1998, that album containing one new track written by a band member. The expanded 2003 re-release of that album entitled "What's it gonna be santa" contained one additional new composition too. finally, the "Heart of Chicago" compilations had the odd new recording slipped in too. As can be seen though, there was a considerable gap between their last studio release and this, especially when compared to the prolific output of their early days. This album also represents their most recent work as of 2011. Incidentally, the four numbers missing between "The Christmas album (25)" and this album were used by 3 more compilations and a live album.

"Chicago XXX" was produced by Jay DeMarcus, who also wrote or co-wrote several of the songs. Reflecting the new recording techniques of the day, the album was recorded in various locations, with session musicians being used as required to enhance the product. The line up of the band remained intact though, incredibly still including four founding members.

Overall, the album represents a return to the AOR commercialism which prevailed on the band's most recent albums. While the horn section certain gets a fair bit of exposure, there is little if any of the jazz rock of the early days, or indeed of the big band sound which the band revived on their "Night and day" album. With Jason Scheff and to a lesser extent Bill Champlin being the main songwriters for the album, there is an emphasis on accessible pop rock, ballads and AOR. Songs such as "Caroline" and "King of might have been" are clearly recorded with an eye on the singles market, as is the Cetera style ballad "Why can't we", a duet featuring female vocalist Shelly Fairchild:.

The closest we get to a Chicago track from the old days is "90 Degrees And Freezing", a good horn driven rocker which at least has some of the fire the band were admired for. "Already gone" is not a cover of the Eagles song, but a rather average and nondescript affair. Robert Lamm's "Come to me do" is one of the better tracks, hardly original but of the quality we expect from him.

Not previously mentioned is the opening track, a minor hit single which was recorded devoid of horns. As if in a half hearted effort to atone for this, the album closes with a "with horns" version of the same song.

With the long gap between this and previous releases, plus the lack of a big selling single taken from the album, "XXX" was all but ignored by fans of the band old and new. It is a shame to have to report that after enduring such a long wait, we find an album which is adequate but no more than that. At time of writing, it looks like we can expect another new album from the band in 2011. Fingers crossed for something more ambitious!

Easy Livin | 2/5 |


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