Saturday, 11 May 2019

Chicago - Chicago VIII (1975)


Released March 1975

This was Chicago's eighth album in seven years, and on this one they replace their jazzy influences somewhat with an upbeat brassy, r'n'b and soul sound. Some have suggested it is a weary, lazy album but I don't really get that. It sounds pretty vibrant and refreshing to me, with the usual inventive variety of tracks that have always been the hallmark of Chicago albums, together with superb musicianship.


1. Anyway You Want
2. Brand New Love Affair, Parts 1 & 2
3. Have Never Been In Love Before
4. Hideaway
5. Till We Meet Again
6. Harry Truman
7. Oh Thank You Great Spirit
8. Long Time No See
9. Ain't It Blue?
10. Old Days
11. Sixth Sense
12. Bright Eyes
13. Satin Doll (Live)                      

"Anyway You Want" is a piano-driven, chunky rock number that sounds like the sort of material Ringo Starr was putting out at the same period. "Brand New Love Affair, Parts 1 & 2" is a deliciously late night soulful number. The track has an excellent horn/wah-wah guitar instrumental interplay in the middle. It has caught on to the whole funk/rock thing as exemplified by The Doobie Brothers and Tower Of Power at the same time. "Never Been In Love Before" is a laid-back easy-listening rock ballad with one of those recognisable, high-pitched Peter Cetera vocals. Supertramp must have been influenced by this, surely, particularly in the piano parts. There is a lovely, crystal clear percussion sound on this one too.

"Hideaway" is a heavy, riff-driven chugging rock number, as heavy as Chicago could get and it is pretty impressive. It is often forgotten that they could rock out if they wanted to. "Till We Meet Again" is a short, acoustic song that provides a pleasant interlude. They then get political with the piano-led Beatles/Wings rock of "Harry Truman". "Oh Thank You Great Spirit" is prog rock meets Hendrix-esque psychedelia in a lengthy and experimental track, full of innovation if not any catchy appeal.

"Long Time No See" is another one with a Beatles-ish influence, for me it sounds a bit like some of George Harrison's seventies material. "Ain't It Blue?" is a return to funky, punchy soul/rock, featuring some killer horns, searing guitar and impressive vocals. "Old Days" is a throwback to the poppy soul of some of the earlier albums. "Sixth Sense" is an infectious piece of funky, jazzy instrumental. "Bright Eyes" is a melodic, laid-back piece of samba-influenced summery fluff. "Satin Doll" is a lively jazzy instrumental again.

This is a better album than many give it credit for, despite the band being said to be exhausted while recording it.


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