Friday, October 15, 2021

Rick Beato and I Revisit Classic Tunes from Chicago II

His latest “What Makes This Song Great” video is about the first single he ever bought, Make Me Smile.

He played it all the time, and so did I, on the album Chicago II that is full of great music, like 25 or 6 to 4 and Colour My World — both top 10 hits, along with Make Me Smile —- plus several other gems such as Wake Up Sunshine and Fancy Colours and Now More Than Ever.

In fact, both Make Me Smile and Colour My World were part of a 7 song suite written by trombone player James Pankow called “Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon” about his trying to win back his former fiancee. Now More Than Ever is the finale of the suite, and quite a finale it is.

Rick calls particular attention to Terry Kath’s vocals and guitar — Kath was the power and “guts” of the sound of this band, with his powerful urgent vocals — and Danny Seraphine’s excellent drumming, and these are my two favorite musicians in a band of incredible original artistry and musicianship. 

But the best part of this great song is the instrumental break with the horns leading into the guitar solo ... “wow” is all I can say. Rick breaks it down in detail. 

Make Me Smile has always been one of my favorite songs, from when I was 10 years old, and it sounds better and better all the time even as I learn more about music. 

Now More Than Ever is a variation on Make Me Smile, where the band rocks out for 1:24 with more amazing vocals by Kath — this guy did not get nearly enough credit for his vocals, probably because his guitar playing was even better — and more incredible drumming by Seraphine. The whole band is unbelievably great here, and for my money this 1:24 chunk of music is definitely some of their best work in their entire history.

Wake Up Sunshine:

Fancy Colours (it starts quietly but do not fear, it gets plenty loud):

The classic and iconic Chicago II album cover art:

This was the first use of the group name Chicago, the first use of the iconic logo which was used on every subsequent album, and the true beginning of their run of incredible hits and overall great music in the 70s.