Chicago – Greatest Hits, 1982-1989

Chicago - Greatest Hits, 1982-1989I’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.

Rating: 2 out of 4At 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.

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  1. Hard To Say I’m Sorry / Get Away (5:08)
  2. Look Away (4:03)
  3. Stay The Night (3:49)
  4. Will You Still Love Me? (5:43)
  5. Love Me Tomorrow (5:01)
  6. What Kind Of Man Would I Be (4:14)
  7. You’re The Inspiration (3:50)
  8. I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love (3:53)
  9. Hard Habit To Break (4:44)
  10. Along Comes A Woman (4:16)
  11. If She Would Have Been Faithful… (3:53)
  12. We Can Last Forever (3:44)

Released by: Reprise
Release date: 1989
Total running time: 52:18

Chicago – Chicago’s Greatest Hits

Chicago's Greatest HitsThis is another one of those cases where anything I might have to say about an album is superfluous, because surely by now you either like Chicago or you don’t. My favorite thing about this Chicago album? It’s “old” Chicago, before the advent of a lot of synths and sequencers that later reduced the once-great band to merely being Peter Cetera’s soft-rock backing band. I know there are quite a few folks who loved the later Chicago years, and sure they turned out good material then. But you’ll hear something on this album, something that those of us who fell in love with Chicago before the 80s dearly miss about the band’s later years – do you hear all that brass? That, my friends, was Chicago. That is what made them great. Quite a few Rating: 4 out of 4late 60s ensembles included a little brass, but few made that part of the band so integral as Chicago did. For you youngsters and children of the 80s out there, I strongly advise you to pick this up, and listen to the real Chicago. “Does anybody really know what time it is?” they asked so many years ago…and my answer is, “Far too long since anyone made music like this.”

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  1. 25 or 6 to 4 (4:50)
  2. Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? (3:19)
  3. Colour My World (2:59)
  4. Just You ‘n’ Me (3:42)
  5. Saturday in the Park (3:53)
  6. Feelin’ Stronger Every Day (4:13)
  7. Make Me Smile (2:59)
  8. Wishing You Were Here (4:34)
  9. Call On Me (4:01)
  10. (I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long (4:27)
  11. Beginnings (7:51)

Released by: Columbia
Release date: 1975
Total running time: 46:48