It Better (not) End Soon

Suburban Chicago newspapers report:

Chicago founding member Robert Lamm knows it’s soon going to come to an end.

But before you hit the panic button, the band isn’t going away, but 2017 is. In a year that’s seen the band sell out shows around the world, including a summer run with The Doobie Brothers, there’s still work to be done before Chicago takes a much-needed end-of-the-year break.

But before the band goes home for the holidays, there’s the matter at hand of “Chicago II.”

On Nov. 7 and 8, Chicago will perform the album in its entirety at WTTW’s Grainger Studio in Chicago. The show will later be aired on the PBS show “Soundstage.”

Chicago II includes …

In a phone interview with the Sun Herald, from South Bend, Indiana, where Chicago was making preparations to perform with the legendary Notre Dame Marching Band, Lamm talks about revisiting “Chicago II,” his love for The Beatles and the impression a young Elvis Presley made on his life.

Tell me about the upcoming revisiting of “Chicago II” — was it difficult to relearn those songs?

As you probably already know, the album “Chicago II” was remixed at the request of Rhino Records, which owns the master. It was done by Steven Wilson, who is a British producer. It’s not really a remix, because he was just really working with a stereo master. He was able to bring out certain aspects of what was really an 8-track recording. And, by the way, that remix has been very favorably reviewed by some of the most demanding music journalists around.

Because of those good reviews and because of Rhino’s satisfaction with that work and because the album once again has been nominated for a the Grammy Hall of Fame, a couple of projects have arisen. One of them is performing the whole album top to bottom live, which is also going to be filmed. We are actually in rehearsals for that as we speak.

Is it tough revisiting some of those songs? I know you’ve been playing “Wake Up Sunshine” from the album on this tour. But is it challenging playing songs you haven’t played in 47 years?

Yes. For me, personally, yes and probably because of my hesitation to go back and re-examine even some of my own songs I wrote and I have not performed or even listened to for decades.

But I’m pretty excited about performing it in front of an audience. I would say all of it has been interesting, especially from a songwriting and arranging point of view. Some of the songs were written by Terry Kath, but I arranged them. Looking at the charts we used when we actually arranged them reveals certain qualities that I left long ago. I like to think that over the years that I’ve improved as a musician and as an arranger and songwriter. We were all a little bit dubious when we agreed to embark on this, and now that we have, everyone is pleasantly surprised. …

Last time we spoke, you discussed the possibility of the band doing some recording in 2018 with the current lineup, which includes new singer Jeff Coffey. Is that still a possibility?

Our problem in 2016 and 2017 has been an intense scheduling of concerts. But we have several months in 2018 that we may use to record an EP. I think it’s definitely a possibility. We recorded our last album “Now” on the road. Although that was a good result, it was pretty taxing. I’ve been pretty adamant about not recording that way for what we do next. We’ll probably record at Lee Loughnane’s studio in Arizona.

The other big Chicago news is …

 

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