I’ve always been a casual fan of Chicago. When you’re growing up and both your mom and your older brother are taking turns cranking up the original Chicago Transit Authority double LP at every opportunity, you learn to like it, or you go nuts.
Okay, maybe I should ditch that intro before the inevitable smart-arse comments come rolling in. In any case, I’ve always been a fan of Chicago, but a fan of old Chicago – before Chicago suffered the same fate as Genesis in the 1980s, that of becoming not much more than a mere backing band for a lead vocalist more concerned with his solo career. The only 80s Chicago I ever owned was a cassette copy of Chicago 16, and that was just because I liked “Niagara Falls”. I felt like a lot of the stuff Chicago was turning out in the early to mid 80s was limp compared to their glorious past.
Then I got this CD dirt cheap, and was reminded – upon hearing “Look Away” – that sometimes I can be a bit harshly judgemental. The truth is, I didn’t know when I was well off with “Hard To Say I’m Sorry / Get Away” and the other early 80s stuff before Chicago suffered yet another paradigm shift into “power ballad” territory.
There are a couple of gems on this Greatest Hits disc spanning Chicago’s dismal chain of radio-friendly hits of the 80s, and sadly “Niagara Falls” isn’t among them. If the strains of “Hard Habit To Break”, “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love” and the post-Peter Cetera “What Kind Of Man Would I Be?” sound vaguely similar, it’s no coincidence: by that time in Chicago’s career, a sameness had set in where songwriting, performance and production were concerned. Gone were any traces of what Chicago once was.
At least in punchier, well-arranged numbers like “Love Me Tomorrow”, “Stay The Night”, and “If She Would Have Been Faithful…”, as sappy and sugary as they may be, there’s at least some vestige of real Chicago in there. Bits of this collection are okay as stand-alone songs, but don’t listen to it right after the pre-80s Chicago hits compilations – the contrast will drive you nuts.
- Hard To Say I’m Sorry / Get Away (5:08)
- Look Away (4:03)
- Stay The Night (3:49)
- Will You Still Love Me? (5:43)
- Love Me Tomorrow (5:01)
- What Kind Of Man Would I Be (4:14)
- You’re The Inspiration (3:50)
- I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love (3:53)
- Hard Habit To Break (4:44)
- Along Comes A Woman (4:16)
- If She Would Have Been Faithful… (3:53)
- We Can Last Forever (3:44)
Released by: Reprise
Release date: 1989
Total running time: 52:18