Now: Chicago XXXVI [2014]

Now: Chicago XXXVI [2014]

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by Chicago
     
 

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Forty-five years into the band's career, the seemingly straightforward numerical system Chicago follow to title their albums has gotten confusing. Their 2014 offering Now: Chicago XXXVI is clearly their 36th record but it is only their 23rd studio album and, to muddle matters more, it is their first collection of brand-new original

Overview

Forty-five years into the band's career, the seemingly straightforward numerical system Chicago follow to title their albums has gotten confusing. Their 2014 offering Now: Chicago XXXVI is clearly their 36th record but it is only their 23rd studio album and, to muddle matters more, it is their first collection of brand-new original material since Chicago XXX in 2006 (the 2008 release of Chicago XXXII: Stone of Sisyphus doesn't really count, as that was initially scheduled for release in 1994, which would've made it Chicago XXII or so). Hence, the decision to put "Now" in front of Chicago XXXVI instead of behind: it emphasizes that this record showcases the band in the present, not the past. That Chicago's Now sounds tethered to the Chicago of the early '80s is neither here nor there. At this point, Chicago exist within their own universe, something made plain by the construction of Now, where each songwriter within Chicago acted as producer on his own tracks. Far from sounding disparate, Now is united in sound and sensibility, anchored upon the splashy horn-fueled jazz-pop they pioneered in the '70s but usually returning to the slick professional adult contemporary of the '80s, the music they made just before and just after Peter Cetera left. A few signifiers of the 2010s are peppered throughout the record -- there's the untrammeled patriotism of "America" ("America is free/America is you and me") and the murky protest politics of "Naked in the Garden of Allah," which is set to a spooky synth beat straight out of Knight Rider -- and there's a digital crispness that can't be denied but, apart from that, these songs would've sounded at home in 1982 or 1983. While this would seem like it might be a step backward -- after all, Chicago XXX was indebted to the early '90s -- the songs here flow naturally. They're big, smooth, cheerful, and bright, emphasizing melody over instrumental interplay, explicitly evoking the past without re-creating it and, in 2014, that is likely what most Chicago fans would want.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/08/2014
Label:
Frontiers Records
UPC:
8024391065228
catalogNumber:
106522
Rank:
9083

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Now  -  Chicago
  2. More Will Be Revealed  -  Chicago
  3. America  -  Chicago
  4. Crazy Happy  -  Chicago
  5. Free at Last  -  Chicago
  6. Love Lives On  -  Chicago
  7. Something's Coming, I Know  -  Chicago
  8. Watching All the Colors  -  Chicago
  9. Nice Girl  -  Chicago
  10. Naked in the Garden of Allah  -  Chicago
  11. Another Trippy Day  -  Chicago

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Chicago   Primary Artist

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Chicago XXXVI: Now 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
BreezyL More than 1 year ago
Chicago recorded this entire CD remotely, employing new technology to make recording work with their constant travel schedule. It completely works for me! I haven't heard Chicago so resonant since Stone of Sisyphus, which I was lucky enough to hear back in the day it was originally supposed to release. Robert Lamm is a force to be reckoned with--his voice and writing chops are just as solid as they were in '69. For anyone who thinks he's mellowed, listen to the provocative and intense Naked in the Garden of Allah, which features the most progressive horns I've heard from this band in decades. Robert is a driving force, producing both mellow songs (Crazy Happy, Another Trippy Day) and rockers (Naked, Free at Last). His vocals are smooth when they need to be and gritty when they need to be, and the man hasn't lost a note or a shred of tone. Speaking of vocals, Jason has never sounded better. Love Lives On is a beautiful ballad that has grown on me, and his fire in Now is fantastic. I love the depth of vocals in the band overall, and the way they showcase singers on various tracks. I love the vocal tradeoff between Robert and Jason in Crazy Happy, and Lee’s brief vocal in Something’s Coming, I Know. Lou is utilized beautifully on America and Watching All the Colors, and Keith’s vocal for Nice Girl was a great treat. Whatever drives you to Chicago’s music, NOW has something for everyone. Like sophisticated jazzy moments? Try Now or Watching All the Colors. Want a rocker? Try Free at Last or Naked. Drawn more to dance music? How ‘bout Something’s Coming. Ballad fan? Love Lives On should work for you. Like songs with a political message? Naked or America fit that bill. The horns haven’t been this high in the mix in ages, and I love that they’re such an integral part of the band again. Keith’s guitar work is top notch, and it seems as if the band is really utilizing him more than ever, both live and on this release. The addition of Lou Pardini and Walfredo Reyes in recent years adds so much more depth, and they’re both used to every advantage on NOW. Tris Imboden proves again and again what a powerhouse he is. This entire band can PLAY and they show it to every advantage in this release. Chicago is stronger than they’ve been in years, and NOW illustrates that in spades.