I admit I was late to jump on the Chicago bandwagon. It wasn't until I was introduced to the real Chicago (not the sugar-pop stuff they played on the radio) during my college marching band years that I began to appreciate their innovative sound and pure genius. With Chicago, it's all about the layers — the vocals, the horns, the percussion, the base. One of my favorite ways to listen to their music is to single out one part — the trombones, for example —and listen to it the whole way through. I've probably listened to "Just You 'N Me" from Chicago VI a thousand times and just last week heard something I've never noticed before. At the 3:18 mark the horns add a little double-sixteenth/eighth note combo and then repeat it in the next measure. It's the only time that happens in the song. Like I said, genius. See for yourself:
The band was never the same after Peter Cetera joined as lead singer in the '80s, even though I admit I liked a few songs from Chicago XVI. They became more focused on the pop stardom and vocals and lost something in the translation, IMO.
Thanks to our alert readers for pointing out my timeline error above. I really had in mind Cetera's embarrassing solo career (including those truly awful duets) and associated that with the decline of the once-great band. My bad.
Anyway, these days I'd rather hear a tribute band than the real thing. Or, better yet, just crank it up in the car.