Friday, July 11, 2014

Chicago XXXVI Now Universal 2014

A release as disconnected as the cover art...
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
 
No writer "enjoys" crafting what would be considered by many as a bad review. Taste is subjective. Tone deaf lasts forever. Now or Chicago XXXVI is the first release of all new material since Chicago XXX in 2006. Bill Champlin departed the band and in a move that ranks right alongside the genius that came up with New Coke, the band has hit the road - literally. Now a Las Vegas style tribute band to themselves, Chicago's predictability borders on the tedious.
 
Chicago is a personal favorite. I come not to bury Chicago and not to praise them but to offer some points to ponder as you decide if this is a release is worth a spin. Lyrically the band's creative well has not just run dry but it has now been securely capped. Instrumentally, the fire would seem to have burned out. Vocally the sound is showing wear and tear. The sound is virtually unrecognizable with a pretentious political tune along side the ballads that are labored at best. Dance music, a tune with a Middle Eastern vibe and what may be attempting to pass for a couple of "rockers" should have the hard core fan drooling...Is it bad? Define bad...The bright moments are simply not memorable. 3-4 "good" tunes does not a hit record make...Lee Thornburg is now the trumpet player, a good player but are the chops from Jimmy Pankow and Walter Parazaider eroding with age? It is a fair question. Now is a train wreck with a harmonic disconnect for the ages. The release is simply all over the place attempting to be all things to all people.
 
An artist, writer or musician needs to grow and in doing so explore fertile new ground for creativity that jump starts the heart and makes the mind race. There is also a time to walk away.
 
The time is Now!
 
A diabetes induced stiff sanitized for your protection...