Sunday, May 07, 2006

Chicago XXX

So, I got the brand new Chicago studio album, Chicago XXX, as one of my birthday gifts over spring break, and I'm definitely glad that I did. This is Chicago's first album of new original material in over a decade, but it was worth the wait.

The album starts out with their new hit single "Feel." This is the first single to feature Robert Lamm's lead vocals is quite a long while. Lamm is one of the few remaining original members of the band, and is the writer of such hits as "25 or 6 to 4," "Saturday In The Park," "Colour My World," "Questions 67 & 68," and "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?." He is in perfect vocal form on this album. His smooth baritone grasps the listener from the start. He even shows off some belting, quite impressively.

The next song is "King Of What Might Have Been" which features Jason Scheff's maturing tenor voice. Scheff replaced the legendary Peter Cetera in the late 80's, and really started out as a pure imitation of him. However, on this album, he really shows his own creative edge. He also sings on the tight harmonic track, "Caroline."

The vocalist who really dominates this album is the epic Bill Champlin, who replaced Terry Kath after he died. After Cetera left Chicago, Champlin was the one who generated the most hit material, including "Look Away," "I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love," "Chasin' The Wind," "You're Not Alone." On this album he soars with "Why Can't We," "Already Gone," "Lovin' Chains," and "Better."

What makes this album great is that it sounds like a mix of the styles of the early Chicago and the later Chicago. This isn't just an album filled with ballads, which is what they resorted to in order to live in Cetera's shadow. They have a lot of upbeat jazzy and funky tunes. This may be due to leadership shown by Lamm and Champlin. They have a lot of modern pop tricks in their sound, probably thanks to producer Jay DeMarcus. All of the instruments sound great as usual. Chicago prove themselves as true professional musicians yet again.

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