Chicago 16


Warner Bros., 1982

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


By 1982, the hits had dried up for Chicago. They were in the process of moving from their long-time label home of Columbia to Warner Brothers, and enlisted the help of producer David Foster to help make them relevant again. In the process, they fully embraced their radio-friendly pop sound which they had been slowly cultivating for several years, the end result being Chicago 16.

And the end result? Two words: Ho-hum.

Yes, this disc gave Peter Cetera and crew two hits with “Love Me Tomorrow” and “Hard To Say I'm Sorry / Get Away,” but overall this is an absolute snooze-fest, full of light pop fluff that barely catches the ear, much less the interest, of the listener.

Now, I'll be completely up-front: I've always hated “Hard For Me To Say I'm Sorry / Get Away,” dating back to when it was first released as a single. For me, it was just the antithesis of everything that Chicago had been to that point – and I am well aware that they had long since abandoned the guise of avant-garde rockers that made up the first part of their career. But at least those early power-pop hits had some frickin' my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 substance – I mean, I won't turn off “If You Leave Me Now” when I hear it on satellite radio. But I will dive-bomb for the channel button when this comes on, even to this day.

That said, “Love Me Tomorrow” does feel more like what Chicago had been up to this point, and is ample proof that they still were able to craft a song and make it interesting. Yes, it's still power-pop, but it's got some meat to it as well.

The problem with the bulk of Chicago 16 is not Foster's production work; rather, it is the sub-par songwriting that just fails to break any new ground – or, at the least, keep things listenable. When tracks like “Waiting For You To Decide,” “Chains” and “Sonny Think Twice” all blend together into an unrecognizable mush, then no amount of fancy production work is going to make these any more listenable. Simply put, you can't turn a Yugo into a Rolls-Royce.

Commercially, you could say that Chicago 16 was an improvement over their previous studio effort, Chicago XIV. (Their fifteenth album was technically a greatest hits collection, and did not have the number in the title.) And, yes, “Love Me Tomorrow” is a decent song. It's just a shame that the listener has to plow through landmine after landmine to get to the one good track, stuck at the end of the disc.

Chicago did gain back popularity with this disc, and would be vaulted back into superstardom one disc later. But taken as a whole, Chicago 16 is the equivalent of a sleeping pill pressed into vinyl or compact disc, and aside from the radio hits (even if I don't like the one song), is hardly worth your time.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2017 Christopher Thelen 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 Warner Bros., and is used for informational purposes only.