If you don't own any previous Chicago compilations, then you might as well start with Love Songs. Not that the selection of tracks here is meant to be an entirely accurate reflection of Chicago, who could funk it up during their best moments. But it's accurate to say that most of these songs are the ones that helped make them as popular as they were, and Love Songs certainly does convey the sickly sweetness of their horn-sodden schmaltziness. The horns sounds as if they're drowning in honey, and the Chicago sound is saturated with it.
If you're older than, say 30, and were a certain kind of music fan in the 70s and 80s (one who wore white flares and sported a mullet, for example), you'll recognise many of these tracks. If you've even just once been exposed to the sentimental "If you leave me now", you'll recognise it. Who could forget these timeless lyrics: "If you leave me now, you take away the biggest part of me. Ooo oh, baby please don't go. If you leave me now, you'll take away the very heart of me. Ooo oh, baby please don't go. Ooo, oh, I just want you to stay."
The version on Love Songs is live, and instead of ex-lead vocalist Peter Cetera, it features Earth, Wind and Fire's Philip Bailey. If you're the kind of fan who'll care about this conjunction of big band powerhouses, you'll also be pleased to know that Chicago's Bill Champlin guests on the EWF classic, "After the love has gone."
And if you're looking for the quintessence of mawkish love, put on "Hard to say I'm sorry/get away", really, really loud. "Everybody needs a little time away / I heard her say / From each other. / Even lovers need a holiday / Far away / From each other" There's a reason it's called a power ballad, and Chicago are masters at it.- Chris Roper
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