RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Chicago – NOW XXXVI
Frontiers Records

Rating: A-

Chicago returns with their 36th album containing eleven brand new, original songs.  This is a return to their horn-soaked soulful sound of the early 1970’s that made them international rock stars.

Interestingly enough, the band did not enter a recording studio in the making of the album.  The entire thing was recorded on what the band have dubbed “The Rig,” which is a customized mobile recording system.  The band recorded in hotels, venues, conference rooms and anywhere else they could set up and make the magic happen.  The result is a very personal and passionate album.  The songs all hold together and each is very strong. 

Today Chicago consists of Robert Lamm (keyboard, guitars, vocals, Lee Loughnane (trumpet, guitar, percussion, vocals), James Pankow (trombone, percussion, keyboards, vocals), Walter Parazaider (woodwinds, backing vocals) along with Jason Scheff (bass, vocals), Tris Imboden (drums, percussion), Keith Howland (guitars, vocals), Lou Pardini (keyboards, vocals) and Walfredo Reyes Jr. (percussion). 

Founder Robert Lamm summed up the project by stating, “There’s certainly more context, and there’s certainly more musical ability and perception, rather than youthful naïveté that we had when we started.”  Trumpet player Lee Loughnane also comments, “Thank goodness we have 46 years of track record behind us. We’re just trying to grow the legacy even more.”

The legacy will continue.  Title track “Now” is classic Chicago and stands among the best of their classic tunes with ease.  The song opens the album, and proves this band not only is still dangerously talented, they are more than deserving of an entrance to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame… which continues to overlook them. 

The music on this sucker is top notch all the way through.  “More Will Be Revealed” sees Lamm take lead vocals and he just shines throughout.  “America” is another classic sounding tune.  “Free At Last” is one of the best of the bunch, as it contains elements of jazz, rock, soul and that special Chicago-something that has kept this band rocking all these years.

This is a great album.  The band will hit the road with REO Speedwagon to support this album.  This is such a good release that they really should fit as many in the live set as they can…for sure “Now” and “Free at Last”… those songs would have been huge hits back in the day for the band, and they deserve to be heard…now! 

“NOW” CHICAGO XXXVI track listing:
--More Will Be Revealed
--Crazy Happy
--Free At Last
--Love Lives On
--Something’s Coming, I Know
--Watching All The Colors
--Nice Girl
--Naked In The Garden of Allah
--Another Trippy Day

By Jeb Wright