Ballet For A Girl From Buchannon - Chicago (1970)
I met Chicago as a child, during their career makeover. They were all dressed up in David Foster arrangements and synth waves mimicking the computer chip on their 1982 album cover.
My mom and dad didn't mind this. I think this is why I have my natural affinity for 80's pop made by 70's rockers. Chicago 16 was played a lot in my house, and an early love of longer songs was fostered by "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" segueing into "Get Away".
This was good ironing music, which my mother made sure was always on the turntable when she used to do said chore.
Yet this was a band of many "Fancy Colours".
My parents also had Chicago II.
This was good life music.
Containing two of their greatest singles, today's suite (written entirely by trombonist James Pankow) is a fantasia of sounds: It is rock, then pastoral jazz which slows into one of the purest piano driven ballads ever recorded. Then, the momentum of love's power brings back the rock for a fitting reprise.
It is a mere 13 minutes long; short for the vinyl monsters favored on this blog.
Yet it speaks volumes on passion and its overriding power in a comparatively small time.
On an album full of triumphs, it stands head and shoulders above any glory past, present or future that the band ever released.
And if need be, you can iron to this one too.
Frank Kimbrough On Piano Jazz
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