Hot Streets

Chicago

Columbia, 1979

http://www.chicagotheband.com

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/07/2006

Ladies and gentlemen….I present to you the forgotten Chicago album Hot Streets!

I mean that in all seriousness. Chicago XIV and 21 are notorious for being the band's worst, while 13 contained Chicago’s stab at disco, “Street Player,” which didn’t do that badly. Sandwiched right in between Terry Kath’s last record and Chicago Does Disco was this forgotten album.  When listening to Hot Streets, I get the feeling that this unintentionally ended up being Chicago’s disco record. That whole empty, vacuous vibe that disco tended to give off rears its ugly head a few times, but for the most part this is a fairly enjoyable album. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Things get off to a great start with the disco rock “Alive Again,” interpreted as a farewell to Kath and the beginning of a new phase in the band’s career. Peter Cetera, who from this point on practically was Chicago until he left to pursue a solo career, is in fine voice. The tight harmonies the band have as the proverbial ace up their sleeves are on display, with great effect considering the incredibly catchy refrain. Newcomer guitarist Donnie Dacus even gets a chance to throw in a solo, but unfortunately the only thing it accomplishes is to serve as a reminder of what Kath had brought to the table.

It was around this time that Chicago had pretty much given on being an avant-garde jazz/rock group, but on the flipside they could still craft great pop. Without the pressures of former manager/producer James Guercio, the band certainly sounds much fresher, though that freedom doesn’t necessarily equate to good music. Dacus certainly does not make a good impression with his turns at the mic, but in all fairness not many could have replaced Terry Kath. The other big hit, “No Tell Lover,” has never been a favorite of mine; the proceedings come off as just a bit too lethargic.

There are a few tracks that reach the level of songs the band played on records like VI or VIII. The title track genuinely recaptures the jazz roots of Chicago; Walt Parazaider gets to unleash a little jazz flute, Ron Burgundy-style, round the midpoint of the track. Once he finishes, the full horn section reenters into the fray, sporting some of James Pankow’s best arranging for the next few years. “Gone Long Gone” must have been Cetera’s attempt to fulfill his dream to be either a Beatle or a Beach Boy; this rolling acoustic number could have come straight off of Band On The Run.

In all honesty, this is the perfect record for a fan to put on when they just want a well-produced, professional Chicago record. This record didn’t turn heads or inspire a new generation of musicians, but it deserves more than to be the forgotten Chicago record.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2006 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia, and is used for informational purposes only.