CD Review: Chicago

By David Chiu

While Chicago’s 30th album—the band’s first record of new material in 15 years to be released—isn’t a complete full-out return to the classic big-brass sound of its Seventies heyday. But it’s an improvement from the very slick and overproduced records of the mid to late ‘80s. The performances on XXX sound live and spontaneous in the studio, and the brass section—Chicago’s bread and butter—make a more prominent return (“Already Gone” and “Better”), when it seemed like for most of the ‘80s it was pushed aside in favor of those power ballads And it is so refreshing to hear keyboardist Robert Lamm’s voice again especially on the “90 Degrees and Freezing” and the very soulful “Come to Me, Do,” a track that could have been franchised to Al Green. He also sings lead on XXX’s first single “Feel,” which might be considered Chicago’s best song in recent memory—a rocking, heartfelt track about reclaiming yourself that sound genuine rather than mawkish. The band couldn’t entirely have a new album free of some ballads, as is the case of “King of Might Have Been and “Love Will Come Back,” but they are not as overbearing, and thus you’ll live. Long time fans will be relieved to hear the group finally play some new songs this summer on the road. XXX presents Chicago as a forward-thinking 40-year-old group, not a 40-year-old oldies one.


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