Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Run for the hills! A 'new' Chicago album!

Posted By on Tue, Jun 17, 2008 at 10:46 AM

Today, Rhino Records is releasing an album by the formerly multi-platinum-titanium-zirconium-mega-hotshit band Chicago, recorded in 1993. The big news is that there are apparently a lot of people who are excited to get their hands on new Chicago material from 15 years ago. What are these people thinking? Do we really need a reprise of trite "soft rock" ballads punctuated by cheesy, simplistic horn riffs? You know what I mean -- the kind of music Chicago made a fortune from. Unless you're a rock history buff, or you're as old as, well, me, you may find this hard to believe, but when their first album was released, the band was considered a new and exciting, avant-garde-ish group of rock innovators. They were so hip, Jimi Hendrix asked them to open for him on tour in 1969. I saw a show from that tour in what is now Cricket Arena, and sure enough, the hot new band from Chicago was hell on wheels, all wild, atonal guitar improvisations matched by sharp, complex horn arrangements and lefty politics. Nobody had seen anything like it before. After two albums, though, as an old friend succinctly and pithily phrased it, "they went to shit," churning out watered-down dreck that turned Chicago into a bad, albeit multi-platinum-titanium, etc., musical joke. The irony today is that the "new" album, Stone of Sisyphus, is ostensibly a return to a sound more reminiscent of the band's early work. If that's true, I guess that's good. But there's also such a thing as being a day late and a dollar short, or in this case, about, ohh, 38 years late.

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