Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Chicago III (Chicagothon Part 3)

We've moved on to 1971 and quelle suprise! Chicago knock out another double album. Axel Rose should take a leaf out of Chicago's book and up his game to this kind of productivity with 'Chinese Democracy' The cover has a ragged stars'n'stripes backdrop theme and disappointingly they've scrimped on the gatefold with the two records fitting into just the one compartment.

Chicago III

Side 1
Sing a Mean Tune Kid (9:14)
A Robert Lamm tune that makes a big entrance with a big sound and even bigger guitar solos from Terry Kath, who works himself up into a frenzy, the whole number has a Santana funky vibe going on.

Loneliness Is Just a Word (2.36)
Another Lamm classic that sneaks along like a suave undercover detective, on a mission to deliver us some incriminating grooves.

What Else Can I Say (3.13)
Peter Cetera gets a look in here with an easy going country rock tune that makes me wanna drink some moonshine on the veranda whilst practicing my spit bucket gobbing technique.

I Don't Want Your Money (4:48)
This is a straight forward hard rocking boogie blues, that you would expect to be knocked out by the resident band, at a less salubrious drinking establishment in blue collar America. I'm thinking 'The Drunken Clam' here; "Turn da freakin sound up, yer hippie" c/o Peter Griffin

Side 2

Flight 602 (2:46)
As you would expect of a hard gigging band, the influence of all the mileage they're putting in starts to seep through to the songwriting at this stage, but singing a country ballard about Canada! c'mon, what's that about?

Motorboat to Mars (1:32)
The first serious faux pas on the album as Danny Seraphine is allowed loose with a drum solo.

Fortunately the funky balance is restored with the track released as a single, which was flipped with...

Free Country (5:49)
The travel blues continues here..

At the Sunrise
Lamm's obviously yearning to be back home with his lil' lady by now.

Happy 'Cause I'm Going Home (7.27)
We finish with a flute fiesta, it's buzzy, jazzy and beatniky.

Side 3
Mother (4.29)
A jaunty jazz tune with some heavy duty lyrics and a maudlin feel, It's like the seventies became the hangover of the previous decade's party.

Lowdown (3.35)
The rest this side is composed of a suite by Terry Kath, loosely themed under the title of 'An Hour In The Shower' It's very Beatlesque but not altogether successful. There are some nice sections but Chicago's 'achilles heel' of producing too much rambling and experimental tempo changes means it rarely rises above promising. Lowdown is the strongest part with some finger clicking beats.

A Hard Risin' Morning Without Breakfast (1.54)
It's the most important meal of the day, you know. Plenty of snap,crackle and pop in this little ditty.

Off to Work (0.48)
If only my commute was forty eight seconds long.

Fallin' Out (0.55)
I feel a verbal disciplinary from the manager coming on.

Dreamin' Home (0.51)
Damn, it's only mid morning, perhaps a gossip at the water cooler with Deirdre from accounts, might help to pass some time.

Morning Blues Again (1.08)
Arrgh, is it time get get up already? only another twenty seven years before my pension plan matures.

Side 4
When All the Laughter Dies in Sorrow (1:04)
Easy tiger! a spoken poem written by Kendrew Lascilles (actor/writer) reminds us that we're all insignificant specks on this earth and the human race is just a flash in the pan.. sheesh! bum me out why not Ken.

Canon (1.07)
The rest of this side is James Pankow's baby, a sorrowful brass lament begins his piece. It's all instrumental from now on, so no more lyrics to dampen my spirits.

Once Upon a Time ... (2.36)
This track is a chilled meandering flute led instrumental, that doesn't really know whether it's coming or going!

Progress? (2:34)
I guess the cacophony of horns represents chaotic city life, with traffic jam sounds dubbed in and a toilet flushing for good measure, does it mean we're all going down the pan?

The Approaching Storm
At last, the boys are back to serving up what they do best.. jazz funk rock with a side dish of groovy Hammond action.

Man Vs. Man: The End (1.32)
A dramatic conclusion with a couple of false endings to tease us, winds up the show.

Conclusion: experimental music can quickly turn into self indulgence unless there's discipline in the composition. Chicago III has some great periods of music, performed by talented musicians, but there isn't enough stand out tracks for me to make sitting through the rest worth while.

1 comment:

Gary said...

Why, oh why did you give such a great album such a terrible write up? Who told you could write a review? 'Sing a Mean Tune Kid' described as a Santana vibe is perfectly moronic. 'I Don't Want Your Money' is a hard driving blues based rocker, but hardly qualifies as a boogie. 'Happy 'Cause I'm Going Home' is more of a samba than it is jazzy. 'Mother' can hardly be classified as jazz either. And when you refer to tempo changes, I think you mean meter changes. I hardly feel that 'Hour In The Shower' can be described as Beatlesque. Exactly what are you thinking there? The Approaching Storm does have a Hammond B3 solo, but the rest is driven by an electric piano, probably a Wurlitzer.

This album is about touring and ecology. My copy opened up as a gatefold with two compartments for the discs. The fact yours only had one suggests either a bootleg or foreign copy.

You know absolutely nothing about music my friend, and I say this with all due respect. You need to learn what funk is. You need to learn what jazz is. You need to learn exactly what a boogie-woogie is. And you need to know what instruments sound like and what they are doing. You need to learn the essential building blocks that make up this thing called music, and you need learn them well before you attempt another album review.

Until you do, please do the world at large a monumental favor and stay the fuck away from the typewriter keyboard. Otherwise, you will merely continue to make a fool of yourself.