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Chicago - Chicago XXX (2006)

20 March 2012
Jazz | Pop | Rock | Oldies | FLAC / APE

Chicago - Chicago XXX (2006)

Artist: Chicago
Title Of Album: Chicago XXX
Year Of Release: 2006
Label: Rhino
Genre: Rock
Format: FLAC (image) / MP3
Bitrate: Lossless / CBR 320 kBit/s
Total Time: 56:50 min
Total Size: 405 MB / 130 MB
WebSite: ChicagoTheBand.com

Tracklist:

01. Feel [Hot Single Mix] [04:01]
02. King Of Might Have Been [03:52]
03. Caroline [03:39]
04. Why Can't We [04:07]
05. Love Will Come Back [03:48]
06. Long Lost Friend [04:33]
07. 90 Degrees And Freezing [03:52]
08. Where Were You [04:17]
09. Already Gone [06:51]
10. Come To Me, Do [04:36]
11. Lovin' Chains [03:56]
12. Better [04:41]
13. Feel [w/ Horns] [04:30]

Personnel:

Jay DeMarcus - vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards, programming;
Bill Champlin - vocals, piano, Fender Rhodes piano;
Robert Lamm - vocals, piano, Wurlitzer organ;
Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney, Jason Scheff, Shelly Fairchild - vocals;
Dan Huff, Dean DeLeo, Yankton Mingua, Keith Howland - guitar;
Tom Bukovac - acoustic guitar, electric guitar;
Walter Parazaider - flute, saxophone;
Lee Loughnane - trumpet, piccolo trumpet, flugelhorn;
Lee Thornberg - trumpet;
James Pankow - trombone;
James Matchack - keyboards;
John Brockman, Tris Imboden, Steve Brewster - drums;
Joseph "Gospel Joe" Williams, Bobby Kimball - background vocals.



Chicago is one of those archetypal bands that's likely to illicit strong reactions in younger music fans who recall their overproduced, cheez-whiz ballads from '80s. But any group that's hung around for three decades with the same exact line-up deserves respect, and Chicago's 30th album—their first studio release in 15 years—is grounded in the classic formula that's helped them last. The band has wisely chosen to avoid fixin' what ain't broke on Chicago XXX. There's nothing that pushes the envelope musically here, and the lyrics aren't politically charged or particularly clever. The album does possess a more country-fied sound (no doubt because of producer Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts), and the first single "Feel" seems suited more to CMT than to Top 40. But we can chalk this up to the increasingly blurred line between contemporary country and contemporary pop, rather than any concerted effort on the part of Chicago to sound more "country."

XXX's best track is "Caroline," a wonderfully overproduced, kitchen-sink power ballad that hits you like a vocal tsunami and then just keeps getting bigger. It owes much to synth-soaked Chicago numbers of the '80s like "You're The Inspiration" and should instantly transport the listener back to the salad days of parachute pants and Capri-Sun juice bags. I defy anyone who was in grade school in the '80s to listen to this track and not crack a nostalgic smile.

While probably not a conscious decision, the second half of the album seems to feature more of Chicago's classic, '70s-style songs, with more prominent horns, and slower, "grittier" (relatively speaking) arrangements. "Lovin' Chains," for example, is a particularly fun throwback tune that successfully hybridizes DeMarcus's country influence with Chicago's patented "big band" pop sound. On the other hand, long-time Chicago fans may lament the lack of an honest-to-goodness adagio on XXX. There's no analogue for "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" here. The closest we get is "King Of Might Have Been," which starts out intimately enough but quickly hurls every instrument in the studio into the pot and stirs the ingredients into a J-Pop-worthy bathos.

But hey, what's wrong with J-Pop, right? After all, that kind of sound is what Chicago has largely been about since the death of Terry Kath in 1978. In today's pop music scene, it's good to see a band—especially an older band—more concerned with making enjoyable music than with busting its ass to attain some artificial "counterculture" street-cred. It may not make any converts out of today's whippersnappers, but XXX should thrill hardcore Chicago fanatics, bring a smile to casual fans, and maybe even get a few jaded music critics to bust out their tape collections from their grade school days. ~ Eric Neigher

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