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Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
|1. Feel (Hot Single Mix)|
|2. King of Might Have Been|
|4. Why Can't We|
|5. Love Will Come Back|
|6. Long Lost Friend|
|7. 90 Degrees and Freezing|
|8. Where Were You|
|9. Already Gone|
|10. Come To Me, Do|
|11. Lovin' Chains|
|13. Feel (Horn Section Mix)|
When Chicago exploded onto the music scene with their stellar 1969 double-LP debut, Chicago Transit Authority, the band's innovative fusion of up-front horns in a rock 'n' roll context and impeccable pop sensibilities was an instant smash. Chicago rank among the all-time most successful American rock group. On their 30th album, and first new studio album in 10 years-the band's songwriting mastery and world-class musicianship shines on a collection of tracks ranging from signature ballads to funked-up grooves to solid rockers. Rhino. 2006.
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As others have pointed out, "XXX" is a mix--but it's not mixed up. You can pretty much draw a line between the first half (mostly power ballads) and the second (rock, blues, funk). Depending on your preference, you can program your CD player and have perfection.
I think the fellows are trying to do three things with this release: 1) get on the charts again (as I write, "Feel" is #28 on AC charts); 2) please fans who liked the "What Kind of Man Would I Be?" era; and, 3) do some stuff THEY want to do. Unlike "Stone of Sisyphus," which made no compromises and took no prisoners (and remains, at this writing, officially unreleased as a result), the blending of these intentions on "XXX" actually resulted in an album the suits could get behind.
Personally (and all reviews are personal, right?), the power-ballad side of Chicago never thrilled me; I'd rather hear "Skin Tight" than "Hard to Say I'm Sorry." But I'm long past the point where I assume that my musical tastes are superior to anyone else's, and I'll also say that nobody does the power ballad better than Chicago (that said, fans who love power ballads should add a star to my rating). "King of Might Have Been," "Love Will Come Back," and "Long Lost Friend" will please those fans.
"Caroline," is a bit more upbeat, and has 'hit' all over it. "Feel" has grown on me, too (though I prefer the horn mix).
Things get excellent for me--and stay excellent--with the Lamm/Scheff/DeMarcus/James "90 Degrees and Freezing." It's great to hear Robert Lamm on leads again (he's featured on "Feel," too, and blows away his "Come To Me, Do"), and the brass just smokes. Bill Champlin is also a big-time feature on "XXX." I've followed him since his solo days, and his contributions "Already Gone" and "Better" rank, for me, among the best Chi's ever done, with blistering guitars, horns, key changes, and even a James Pankow trombone solo (nice to hear it, Jimmy). Honorable mention to "Where Were You" and "Lovin' Chains"--a country-ish rocker I can almost hear Skynyrd doing--AND the production by Jay DeMarcus as well; Lamm, Scheff, and Champlin sound terrific throughout.
No brass player worth his salt would fail to mention the brass arrangements, mostly by Jimmy Pankow. They are excellent, and it seems DeMarcus even allowed them to be multi-tracked like the old days. As in the best of Chicago past, the horns here dart, roll, power up, and often take center stage. In a word, sweet.
I'm a Chicago fan since the mid-70s, and, for me, the Terry Kath era will forever be golden. As such, I was disappointed by much of what Chicago did in the late 80s and early 90s (I did like the big band and Christmas albums, however). If Chicago died for you when Terry Kath died (or when Peter Cetera departed), then I'd say "Chicago XXX" isn't for you. If, however, you're a Chicago fan who doesn't mind the fact that music has changed (and the band along with it), I'd say take the plunge...."Chicago XXX" is worth it.
Thank you for the prompt delivery.
So where to place this comeback effort? After listening to it numerous times, my conclusion is that it nearly stands up to previous material. I would agree with a couple of other reviewers that a couple of the ballads are a bit sappy even for them, and for sure the song order is strange with having all ballads followed by all uptempo numbers. I also see no point to having two versions of "Feel" on the album--just stick with the trademark horns version. Still, I am overall very pleased with the release of this album.
"Feel" is an enjoyable track (whichever version you listen too)--very familiar but with a sound of modern production. Good single, although I don't think it did too well chart-wise. Ballads like "King of Might Have Been" and "Caroline" would fit right on such Chicago albums as 17-21 with their beautiful vocals and overall melodic sound. Even the guest vocals on "Why Can't We" and "Love Will Come Back" are somewhat enjoyable and an interesting direction to take. "Long Lost Friend" is a bit sappy but for sure very pretty.
I agree with those who say the second half of the album comes as a nice surprise in returning to the "roots" of the band a bit. "90 Degrees and Freezing" is a catchy, fun uptempo number, and "Come To Me, Do" is a vintage-sounding Robert Lamm-sung track. "Already Gone" has some cool harmonies that are not so typically straight-ahead as so many Chicago melodies are. "Where Were You", "Lovin' Chains", and "Better" are also refreshingly uptempo and a lot of fun to listen to.
Some have called this a "safe" Chicago album, and to a degree I agree with that. Many of the ballads in the beginning certainly fall into a familiar territory we have heard before. While I have never heard a note of it, I am further intrigued by people's descriptions of the unreleased "Stone of Sisyphus" album and would love to have it see the light of day. I also think of such albums as the amazing one that Toto put out this year and wonder what a Chicago album made in the same vein (i.e., totally doing what they want to do instead of perhaps pining too hard for a return to radio single "glory days") might sound like. All that being said, for me this is overall a very satisfying release. I have enough criticism here with the song order and "safeness" of the album that I can't quite give it a 5-star rating, but it is close. Call my rating 4 1/2 stars for an album that should be very satisfying to '80s Chicago fans and also to plenty of career-spanning fans of this legendary band.
Ballad-dominated at first, the album evolves with more livelier tracks. Whether it be a heartfelt power ballad "King Of Might Have Been," the jazz/rock masterpiece "90 Degrees And Freezing" (where old-school Chicago meets 2006), the pulsating rocker "Where Were You," or the mid-tempo R&B stuff like the gritty "Lovin' Chains," a foot-tapping "Come To Me, Do," and the compelling AC single, "Feel," of which there are two versions (one sans horns), "XXX" has it all! Even a "Night And Day" (1995)-sounding piece that's "Better." Not to mention guest appearances from country artists Rascal Flatts and newcomer Shelly Fairchild in separate ballad duets.
A lifelong Chicago fan, my initial impression was how producer Jay DeMarcus (Flatts bandmember) went to great lengths to modernize the band's sound. Sonically, I find this album as good or better than any I've heard. And, while some may describe DeMarcus' approach as "overproduction," I think it gives the listener more to hear all the time. Buy this album. Give it some ear time -- it's full of gems. Horns are everywhere, leaving little doubt as to XXXactly which band you're hearing. All in all, it was worth the wait!
The cd contains 12 new songs that are primarily ballads or pop tunes that would be at home on most easy listening radio stations out there. There are two versions of the song "Feel" presented, one to open the disc and a second to close it that contains some more horn work then the first version.
The vocals are clear, generally crisp and soulful. The band continues to be blessed with having three very capable singers that can share lead duties in Robert Lamn, Jason Scheff and Bill Champlin. The songs themselves are the equivilant of a nice spring day, pleasant and inoffensive without being too hot or cold. The songs have a very polished sound to them. While the songs are fine to listen to, I had a hard time finding anything to really latch onto and sink my teeth into that made me want to listen to it over and over again. The forementioned "Feel", along with "Caroline" and "90 Degrees And Freezing" are probably the songs that have the most potential for repeat listening.
How I view the music is I see the cd as being full of potential background music for a low key party. There's nothing that anyone would object to and pleasant enough to set a mood without any of the songs demanding your attention to pull you away from socializing.
It's not a bad cd, its well produced and easy to listen to. There's just nothing that demands your attention and sets it apart from anything else on the market anymore. That's a terrible shame, because this is one very talented group of musicians that created a style of music back in the late 60's and 70's that was different and unique unto themselves. That sound that set them apart from others has morphed into songs that as another reviewer remarked, are designed to 'play it safe'. They do play it safe and while there's nothing wrong with that, a person can't help but think about what kind of album they would put out if they made one strictly for their own pleasure instead of worrying about trying to please the masses.....