Tuesday, July 1, 2014

RECORD REVIEW: Chicago "Now" (XXXVI)


CHICAGO 
Now 
(Chicago XXXVI)
__________________________

Harnessing the latest in 
modern, mobile recording
technology, Chicago
drops studio record #23 
this summer. And after 
47 years, this band can 
still make me smile, 
just like the old days!
__________________________

Co-produced by Hank Linderman (Don Henley, America, Timothy B. Schmit), the latest record from Chicago reminds me of a fancy, gourmet cupcake placed prominently in the display case — you know, the one that looks almost too dazzling to eat. Hankering for a scrumptious treat, I quickly peeled back the wax paper from the freshly-baked aural confection. I licked off the sprinkle-covered icing and began taking several bites — 11 to be exact. Mmm — I sure taste some mighty delicious ingredients in this baby...

Jimmy Pankow and Lee Loughnane
(Photo courtesy of Chicago)
Soaked with hypnotic orchestration and vocals, the irresistible title track makes me wanna slip into my slinkiest ensemble and dance the night away. Beautifully reminiscent of the band's golden "Hot Streets" era, this Jason Scheff treasure soars and swirls. The Chicago horns have never sounded more vibrant. Keith Howland's guitar work is blistering. And when pinned against the drum / percussion work of Tris Imboden and Walfredo Reyes Jr., it truly zings — the band's most appetizing entrée since '82.

If there's a song you want to sing, 
then sing it now.
If there's a life you want to live, 
then live it now.
From "Now"
(Jason Scheff and Greg Barnhill)

Robert Lamm
(Photo courtesy of Chicago)
Singer / songwriter, keyboardist and co-founder Robert Lamm steps up to the plate and knocks it way into the cheap seats with the Mr. Mister- flavored  "More Will Be Revealed" as well as the guitar-driven "Free At Last." Fueled by the iconic Chicago horns (Lee LoughnaneJimmy Pankow  and Walt Parazaider), both smooth-groovin' earworms deliver enormous, signature-style payoffs.

Chicago - 2013
(Photo: Christopher Long)
A songwriting collaboration between Lamm and America's Gerry Beckley, "Something's Coming, I Know" shines brightly. FYI, funky guitar work + spicy percussion + a tight, catchy chorus and a Beatles-inspired breakdown is a pretty rock solid equation. And in this case, it equals a bona fide biggie.

Representing more of a group songwriting effort, Keith Howland, Jason Scheff and Tris Imboden teamed up on "Nice Girl." Upbeat, fun and snappy, this one is also a  highlight indeed.

Walt Parazaider
(Photo courtesy of Chicago)
"Another Trippy Day" reunites Lamm with producer and "mixologist" John Van Eps. One of the record's more unique and ambient-sounding tracks, it rounds out the collection quite nicely.

In sum, with Now, Chicago has created a  remarkable record — one that's fresh, tasty and truly worthy of its impeccable legacy. (Official Chicago Website)

-Christopher Long
(July 2014)

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2 comments:

  1. I'm curious as to your thoughts about "Naked In The Garden Of Allah"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Mark - Musically speaking, it's a masterpiece.

      Thanks for stopping by -- don't be a stranger.

      -Chris

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