Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chicago - Chicago 13

Today (August 13th) marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Chicago 13, the eleventh studio album and thirteenth overall album (if you include live and compilations) from Chicago. This one spent ten weeks in 1979 on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 21. It also peaked at number 21 in Canada.

Side one starts with the nine minute long “Street Player”; as the second single, the edited version went to number 91 on the US Billboard R&B chart. It also features guest musicians David Wolinski (synthesizer), Airto Moreira (percussion) and Maynard Ferguson (trumpet). This song is a light dance track, complete with a steady beat and funk guitar groove. Over half the track is an instrumental, percussion-driven jam with a soul-salsa flavor. As a card-carrying disco fan boy, I liked it. Even though David Wolinski and Danny Seraphine wrote it, the R&B/funk band Rufus recorded it first as the title track for their 1978 album Street Player; Wolinski played keyboards on that record.

“Mama Take” is up next. This Peter Cetera penned track has a rock rhythm with a bit of a California country-rock guitar riff. The chorus is very catchy.

“Must Have Been Crazy”, the first single, hit number 83 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Like the previous track, this one penned by Donnie Dacus has a similar sound.

The B-side to the second single was “Window Dreamin’”. The vocal credit for this one says “P.C. Moblee” but it was in fact Cetera singing in a lower register. Wow, what a difference in sound for him, eh? It gives the track a more gritty, R&B sound.

“Paradise Alley”, a jazzy number, closes off the first half. I like the smooth swing of this one’s rhythm.

Side two opens with “Aloha Mama”, another vocal credit for Cetera’s “Moblee” identity. The horns on this slinky number give it a throwback jazz sound.

“Reruns” has a few rhythm changes that keep the listener from getting too settled in. While I appreciate the complexity of the arrangement, it really did not work for me.

Things wind down with the Cetera penned ballad “Loser With a Broken Heart”.

Next up is “Life Is What It Is”.

The original vinyl album ends with the mid-tempo “Run Away”, written by the band’s trombonist James Pankow.

This was my first listen through of Chicago 13. I did not recall any of these songs - not even the singles - from my radio listening back in 1979. I suspect this was one that came and went too fast to register on the radar.

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