May 08

CHICAGO – “If You Leave Me Now”

FT + Popular64 comments • 4,713 views

#396, 13th November 1976

As I gradually learned more about music history it became apparent that there were a bunch of American bands who had enjoyed long careers in the 70s but who were close to invisible here. It seems to me that Britain has never really had an equivalent to the rock radio formats on which Chicago, among others, built a fanbase: individual DJs were left to promote adult-oriented and classic rock, which didn’t give dues-paying rock bands the space they had to build large audiences back home. Of course, I didn’t listen to radio in the 70s, so I’m happy to be corrected on this.Anyway the upshot is that the career of Chicago seemed (and seems) bizarre to me: literally dozens of albums, most of them doubles (or more!), reduced as far as I was concerned to a single soppy hit which I knew better from karaoke than from ever actually hearing the band’s version. And apparently “If You Leave Me Now” is hardly typical of the band’s work (to the extent that its success caused serious rifts). In Popular terms, though, it’s the first of a bunch of limpidly sincere records we’ll be meeting as the British public went ballad crazy.

What works in “If You Leave Me Now”? The hook, certainly – instantly memorable and (often what separates hit from flop, this) fun to imitate. As contrition, though, the track would work better if it was sparer: the opulent instrumentation means “If You Leave Me Now” sounds as much seduction as plea – which I’m sure did its sales no harm. The whole thing is glutinously enjoyable on one level, self-regarding piffle on another: that “oooh-ooh-oooh”doesn’t bring to mind a man desperate to stop his lover departing, just Peter Cetera tossing his hair and making doe-eyes at himself in a really gigantic mirror.



  1. 1
    rosie on 16 May 2008 #

    What’s best about it is that it’s a seriously good smoocher. I know this because I’ve enjoyed long, lingering and very satisfying snogs to it. It’s not entirely as good as good a smoocher as I’m Not In Love and as something to listen to while not smooching it doesn’t really come close, but as something, say, to close the night at one of the Open University Desperation Discos (“If you haven’t scored before you will tonight”) it’s close to perfection.

    Chicago weren’t entirely unknown in the UK, right back to the late 60s, and they did have a couple of minor-ish single hits – I’m A Man and 25 or 6 to 4 spring to mind, both very different from this offering. But they were an album band and didn’t turn up much on the radio. I think I was more likely to hear them brought to parties. They were heavy-duty rockers anyway; you could almost smell the hot axle grease. Agreeable enough in small doses but I wouldn’t have wanted a whole side of an album at once. I can hear the cries of “sell-out” as I listen to this.

    I think smooching was still quite popular in 1976, hence the demand for music to smooch to. Me, I miss having a good furtive snog, they don’t come my way much these days.

  2. 2
    LondonLee on 16 May 2008 #

    Lovely, lovely record. Maybe a tad too pillowy with all the strings and “oohs” but still gorgeous.

    Though it’s use in the war movie ‘Three Kings’ did affect how I hear it now.

  3. 3
    LondonLee on 16 May 2008 #

    “I’m A Man” was The Spencer Davis Group.

    I snog the wife every morning as long as the nipper isn’t watching. Don’t want her taking any funny ideas to day care.

  4. 4
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 16 May 2008 #

    “Nr.1 in USA und England” — for some reason this made me smile

  5. 5
    rosie on 16 May 2008 #

    London Lee @ 3: Yes, it was originally the Spencer Davis Group but covered by Chicago on their first album and released as a single. It got quite a bit of radio play.

  6. 6
    Kat but logged out innit on 16 May 2008 #

    This was heavily playlisted on Capital FM in the early 90s for some reason (along with Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’ and 10cc’s ‘I’m Not In Love’). I bloody loved it, even if I had no idea who the artist was.

  7. 7
    Dan M. on 16 May 2008 #

    No. Yuck.

  8. 8
    koganbot on 16 May 2008 #

    a bunch of American bands who had enjoyed long careers in the 70s but who were close to invisible here

    Some Brit bands managed this feat too. Wikipedia not a help here, but I think Foghat’s success was almost entirely in North America. And Foreigner, which was founded by two Brits with a bunch of Americans rounding out the band, were mammoth for five years in the U.S. before Britain finally gave a hit to “Waiting for a Girl Like You.”

    I knew Chicago, and I knew “If You Leave Me Now,” but I never associated the two until today. I probably did my best to avoid music like this and bands like Chicago in 1976, but I’m hoping that whenever I first heard this I recognized that it had merit.

  9. 9
    wichita lineman on 16 May 2008 #

    I’m A Man and 25 Or 6 To 4 (anyone got a clue what that means?) were both Top 10, but years before this so I had no preconceptions. The latter was on the testcard a lot in ’76 (yes yes, well I had to do something waiting for the proper telly to start) as a Hammond ‘n’ brass instrumental.

    If You Leave Me Now sounded like a number 1 as soon as I heard it, unlike most of this year’s entries. Pretty sure Noel Edmonds played it to death. Unlike Chicago’s 80s accountancy-driven ballads this has a warmth, which emanates primarily from the guitar sound – part Jose Feliciano, part Glen Campbell (who was hot again in ’76). And, to add a touch of outre class, the rising strings on the second middle eight have always sounded a little eerie and off-kilter, suggesting real desperation in spite of the slightly bloodless vocal. All of which leads it far enough away from the choc box to make it a 7 for me.

    Oh, and a treat to meet some of yous lot last night!

  10. 10
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 16 May 2008 #

    foghat is pronounced foffit in the uk

  11. 11
    wichita lineman on 16 May 2008 #

    Wear your Foghat with pride.

  12. 12
    Snif on 17 May 2008 #

    25 Or 6 To 4 (anyone got a clue what that means?)

    from the straightdope site

    “The song “25 or 6 to 4” appeared on “Chicago II” and was written by organist/vocalist Robert Lamm. The title and lyrics have puzzled many since it appeared in 1970. Some say it’s a drug reference, suggesting a unit of measurement involving the quantity of joints that can be rolled from a what-used-to-be dime bag. Some feel it’s about looking for spiritual revelation, undergoing a mysterious soul-searching journey.


    Lamm says it’s simpler than that. “The song is about writing a song. It’s not mystical,” he says. Take a look at some of the lyrics:

    Waiting for the break of day–He’s been up all night and now it’s getting close to sunrise.
    Searching for something to say–Trying to think of song lyrics.
    Flashing lights against the sky–Perhaps stars or the traditional flashing neon hotel sign.
    Giving up I close my eyes–He’s exhausted and his eyes hurt from being open too long, so he closes them.
    Staring blindly into space–This expression can be seen often on the faces of writers and reporters. Trust me.
    Getting up to splash my face–Something you do when you’re trying to stay awake, though a good cup of Starbuck’s does wonders for Cecil and me.
    Wanting just to stay awake, wondering how much I can take–How far can he push himself to get the song done?
    Should I try to do some more?–This is the line that makes many think it’s a drug song. But it is just as easily construed as a frustrated writer wondering if he should try to do some more lyrics/songwriting.

    As for the curious title, Lamm says, “It’s just a reference to the time of day”–as in “waiting for the break of day” at 25 or (2)6 minutes to 4 a.m. (3:35 or 3:34 a.m.)”

  13. 13
    intothefireuk on 17 May 2008 #

    An absolutely gorgeous record and one that reminds me more than anything else recently of the summer of 1976 (which is odd considering it hit number one later in the year). Some investigation leads me to believe it was actually released as a single in July of that year so it may well have been a ‘radio’ hit before it topped the charts. Even if that wasn’t the case it makes more sense as a late summer hit and nothing will persuade me otherwise. I love Cetera’s pure, clear vocals & I don’t have any problems believing him, the oohs oohs being a particular highlight. It’s a beautiful arrangement – lush strings, a muted brass refrain, flamenco-ish 12 string lead runs & gently strum acoustics. An easy 9 for me maybe even a 10 on a good day.

    25 or 6 to 4 is supposedly a song about writers block – the protagonist staying up until 25 or 26 to 4am trying to pressumably write that one damn song. Although it is easy to read as an ode to dropping acid as well – the choice, as they say, is yours.

    Unfortunately for Chicago it was all downhill after this with the unfortunate death of Terry Kath (it’s alright it’s not loaded) and the even more unfortunate choice to swim in a sea of syrupy ballads (and no I don’t think this was one of them).

  14. 14
    Doctor Casino on 17 May 2008 #

    I’m a sucker for things that sound like this. Okay, sure, I could take or leave a number of the flourishes…but there are an awful lot of them, and the Spanish-ish guitar is definitely one too many. Or twenty-five or six. But the combination of effects and performance produces a lead vocal that’s just stunningly fluid to listen to – I’ll take more of that please.

    As an American in his mid-twenties, I can tell you that Chicago remains somewhat mysterious to me as well. They have a knack, I think, for producing good-but-faceless singles. Somehow I’m reminded of “Cheery Blossom White” (or whatever it’s called) where Tom (I think) raised the notion of people going to record stores asking for the one with where the horn goes breeeeeeeowwwww. “If You Leave Me Now” is like that – I just listened to it and I had to look back up at the top of the screen to remember what it’s called. The band as a whole feels that way to me. Not sure what it is they’re missing; of course if I’d been alive and listening to the radio when this came out I might actually associate some kind of specific information with either the band or Peter Cetera….

  15. 15
    Doctor Mod on 17 May 2008 #

    I like this more than I liked most of Chicago’s other songs, but I never snogged to it.

    I did, however, once snog to Wagner’s Tannhäuser.

  16. 16
    Waldo on 17 May 2008 #

    This was another example of Tony Blackburn somehow picking a belter as his record of the week, quite contrary to his usual behaviour. I remember distinctly remarking that “this is far too good to get to number one” and then smugly going out and buying it. The rest of the country quickly followed and of course I was totally wrong, as it was one of the great hits of the year both here and in the States. IYLMN remains as one of my favourite tracks of the decade (What say Dale, MC?) and stands the test of time with minimum difficulty. Obviously Chicago had already registered on my radar, particularly with the sublime “25 or 6 to 4”, which was rashly labelled a “drugs record” but was actually referring to an early morning reading of a clock, apparently. The arrangement to this track was phenomenal, the intro (repeated later in the number) was marvellous and Terry Kath’s guitar solo clearly worthy of the work of any of the great ones. Kath, alas, then went and spoiled everything (particularly the contents of his bonce) with a comedy death. Picking up a 9mm automatic pistol in 1978, Terry, a gun fanatic, placed this to his head before waving away the concerns of his friends gathered there with him with the immortal: “Don’t worry, guys. It’s not even loaded. See?” He then pulled the trigger. Alas everyone did indeed see, as there had been one slug left in the chamber and Kath’s brain went flying into a neighbouring wall before sliding slowly down to the floor like a damp sponge. The now ex-Chicago guitarist almost certainly didn’t see, as the sucker was dead before he commenced his short journey to the Axminster. For this minor slip-up, Terry was presented (not personally, of course) with the prestigious “Darwin Award” for “removing himself from the gene pool in a sublimely idiotic fashion”. A matter of weeks later, that other idiot Claude Francois was similarly ennobled after deciding to fix a light bulb, whilst standing in a filled bathtub. There wasn’t much left of the French buffoon for a decent funeral, apparently. I can just imagine St Peter pissing himself ragged as he waved these two supreme fuckwits through…

  17. 17
    Rob M on 17 May 2008 #

    I didn’t particularly like this song at the time – I thought it was a bit too sloppy and slushy. It also seemed to hang around the charts for a long time, which annoyed the 7 year old impatient me. So for those two sins, I kind of blocked it out whenever I heard the song.

    However, in 2004, the whole context of the song changed. In January of that year, my mother in law was diagnosed with inoperable and terminal pancreatic cancer. I was very close to my mother in law and it was a shock to the whole family – she’d been so healthy for so long, and was only 54. Obviously my wife was distraught and we did everything we could think of to take our minds off what we were going through. On the day after the initial diagnosis, my wife and I went to our health club to ‘relax’ and swam back and forth at a leisurely speed, discussing the future and fears. In the background was playing a free cd from the Daily Mail or some such paper – from my knowledge of pop and record labels I knew it was a Columbia / CBS sampler because it was all from CBS or Epic or whatever. But this song came on, and echoing around the tiled pool area and hearing the sentiments of the song in the context of what my wife and I were going through, it actually struck home to me. The fact that it was followed by “Bridge over troubled water” just made it worse for me, and I was swimming with tears in my eyes. My wife – not the avid pop consumer I am – didn’t quite understand, but then I’ve always been more emotional with music than anything else. So now the song reminds me of that day, not exactly happy memories but I think I understand the song a bit better now.

  18. 18
    Waldo on 17 May 2008 #

    That’s a nice contribution, Rob. When Johnnie W had to leave his Radio 2 show five years ago in order to battle cancer, he too played “Bridge..” and I would be a lying hound if I claimed that I was my usual smily, “glass half full”, positive self when that classic track came to an end. I can equally understand how IYLME would have the same effect.

  19. 19
    rosie on 17 May 2008 #

    I was alarmed to hear that there was a mystery around the title of “25 or 6 to 4”, and relieved to discover that what I’d always assumed in my naivety – that it was a time and the song concerned a long sleepless night of one kind or another (it catches that hyperactive brain feeling very well.)

    But as an American, wouldn’t Robert Lamm have sung “25 or 6 of 4″?

  20. 20
    rosie on 17 May 2008 #

    Oh yes – nobody had referred to cheese as I thought they might when the time came. This is a piece of cheese to be sure, but it’s a piece of vintage parmesan more than it’s a lump of supermarket mousetrap.

    Anyway, I’m very partial to good cheese.

  21. 21
    richard thompson on 17 May 2008 #

    I used to listen to radio one all the time then as I was at school and it was the time of Blackburns marriage break up, he always played records like this one, there wasn’t a station that took rock music seriously in this country, radio one always seemed too light hearted which appealed to me at the time.

  22. 22
    Waldo on 17 May 2008 #

    Oh, dear God, who could forget Blackburn’s on-air pleading with Tessa Wyatt (admittedly very lovely) not to dump him by playing amongst other things Gary Benson’s “Don’t Throw It All Away”? Cue Smashy and Nicey, of course but Tony’s begging and whining has to be up there with DLT losing it later on for a different reason.

    Btw, I wish Tessa had called in and requested Tammy Lynn’s “I’m Gonna Run Away From You” as a response. SENSATIONAL!!!

  23. 23
    Mark M on 17 May 2008 #

    This was very big in London in the mid-2000s – sampled by Lemon Jelly, apparently, and on the Shaun Of The Dead soundtrack, and definitely liable to pop up in DJ sets after a couple of hours of French microhouse or whatever aging ravers were listening to at that time…

  24. 24
    crag on 17 May 2008 #

    re#23 yes, IYLMN is indeed sampled by Lemon Jelly on their splendid track “Soft” which personlly i prefer to the original..
    Is this the only charttopper to feature someone who died playing Russin roulete?

  25. 25
    Doctor Casino on 17 May 2008 #

    But as an American, wouldn’t Robert Lamm have sung “25 or 6 of 4″?

    ???? Certainly not. I thought that was a British thing! It would be “’til,” as in “Twenty-five or six ’til four.” I’ve never heard (or noticed, anyway) anybody using either of the other two.

  26. 26
    DJ Punctum on 17 May 2008 #

    Waiting for Mark to come back on here in the working week so we can thrash through the UK prog/US jazz-AoR pre-punk parallels but this is slow and weightless (some might say “ploddy”) enough for Tales From Topographic Oceans any day – there’s even a touch of the Jon Anderson LEAP TO THAT MAJOR FIFTH Fosbury Flop about Cetera’s vocal – and a very long way from the days when they were talked about in the same terms as Blood, Sweat & Tears and Don Ellis’ big band as, er, The Future (did Al Kooper ever have anything to do with Chicago?).

    (and also the best one of the lot from that side of the Atlantic were Toronto’s very own Lighthouse but they never made it to these shores, more’s the pity)

    I’d really like to see big band jazz-rock-R&B-post-psych fusion tried again, to be honest (yes all right Jamiroquai but I need something with a lot more HUSTLE than dear old Jay), but maybe leave the Tom Jones vocal aspirations of David Clayton Thomas and similar out.

    Anyway, “If You Leave Me Now”; dreary anaesthetising guff for Bouquet of Barbed Wire fans and absolutely fitting for this Valium of a Popular year – no wonder everyone needed to be waked up and kicked very loudly (“New Rose” next to this is akin to life next to death). Christ, Cetera, enough with the basset hound whining; no wonder she’s pissing off.

    Also a subsequent mainstay of Simon Bates’ Our Tune NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST IN FOUR SECONDS as requested by Tracey who was going to marry Darren but the night before the wedding he was transfixed by a spear of frozen liquid waste from a passing aircraft etc. etc. Chris Morris to thread.

  27. 27
    Kat but logged out innit on 17 May 2008 #

    You know how I said that ‘Save Your Kisses For Me’ segues into the ‘Dads Army’ theme? Well this segues into ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’. It’s the ‘der-dur-der-dur’ strings, innit.

  28. 28
    Caledonianne on 17 May 2008 #

    Been very busy at work the last three weeks, so I have a whole corncucopia of treats to contemplate, and work backwards on.

    I’m definitely with Rosie on this. I don’t think I ever did snog to this, but my God, I WANTED TO! Perfect first time in love fodder this (I wasn’t, but I thought I was, and so, so wanted to be). We loved, the swoops, the horns, the strings, the guitar. In June the following year my three friends and myself had a joint 18th/leaving school party (unsullied by any of that ghastly punk stuff, which just wasn’t on our radar and – check this Marcello – in a Knights of St Columba Hall. Eek!) and this just had to be the final smoochy dance number, leaving us all replete with warmth and happines, and sighs. If I remember rightly none of us actually had what you could call a boyfriend at the time, but no worries. This was the business!Got to dance with the object of my misplaced affections but he, being a responsible chap 16 years my senior wasn’t going to allow any of that smoochy stuff. On the rare occasions I see him now, we laugh about it.

    As les girls went off to our different universities, no more the Three Musketeers, this saw us on our way*, and for that reason it’s proudly my Ipod.

    Well, after a belting singalong Flower of Scotland, natch!

  29. 29
    rosie on 17 May 2008 #

    Kat @ 27: This one does segue into something else in my head, and it’s the der-dur-der-dur strings that do it for me, but it’s JJ Cale’s Cocaine that it becomes.

  30. 30
    will on 17 May 2008 #

    I know they’ve been discussed here in thorough detail and yes, I personally find the whole concept somewhat questionable, but to me this is the epitome of a Guilty Pleasure. Even though it’s a soppy ballad sung by a load of hairy Americans, I’ve always found something strangely comforting about the way the horns nestle in the intro and the way those strings hover hopefully in the verses. Worth more than a 5, I’d say.

  31. 31
    LondonLee on 17 May 2008 #

    American do often tell you the time as “6 of 4″ or “20 of 8″ – I’ve lived here 15 years and it still puzzles me.

  32. 32
    Billy Smart on 17 May 2008 #

    I think that this is a fine example of a very good bit (“If you leave me now/ Ooohooohoooh”/ horns come in) moored in the middle of a rather dreary song. Whenever I hear that bit I get a bit excited and then I lose interest. I remember it working well in the Lemon Jelly track, though.

    What affection I have for this song is taken from the experience of watching 1976 clips on ‘Top of The Pops 2’ on a small black and white portable TV in the room of a Victorian hall of residence where a friend lived, one dark and wet Saturday evening in November 1996.

    This came on. We watched, underawed.

    “My mum likes this” she told me.

    The song became imprinted indelibly in my mind – forever since – as “The song that Nicky’s mum likes”, no more and no less.

  33. 33
    pink champale on 17 May 2008 #

    i always spend the whole record waiting (and it’s a long, if not unpleasant wait) for the bit towards the end when peter cetera unleashes his comical “oohah pretty mamma i jus gotta have yuur luvin” bit.

  34. 34
    DJ Punctum on 18 May 2008 #

    Knights of St Columba hall – eek indeed!

    First “punk” record played at our school disco; “Something Better Change” by the Stranglers, autumn ’77, to which I did the Tiswas dying fly routine of which classmates still speak to this day.

  35. 35
    Waldo on 18 May 2008 #

    I’m scuttling off for a few days of drying out and playing with baby mice and whatever else. My absence will cover Lady Jane Grey’s reign, I see. I fully expect the blogger formally known as Marcello to have completed his detention imposed by Rosie and Doctor Mod by then. Back at my school, a period of detention was never a punishment, merely the most effective way a teacher (“progressive” all) had of preventing a “pupil” from being brutally slain.

  36. 36
    vinylscot on 18 May 2008 #

    I’m pleasantly surprised to see that reactions to this seem to be on the whole rather positive.

    As with Waldo, in comment #16, I too heard this song early, and claimed it for myself, not really thinking it would be a UK no1 – It just didn’t sound like the sort of thing Brits would buy. It was only later that it became apparent it had been just a blueprint for precisely what the Brits would buy from an American (usually) AOR band.

    I think it was the rather plaintive vocal which made it so memorable – the cod-flamenco guitar was a bit different back then (but not too cheezy) and overall the production seemed tastefully restrained, again not a bad thing back in the day…

    I would probably hate it if it was new now, or even just five years later, by which time we’d had all sorts of similar tosh. But at the time, it seemed new, not revolutionary (like p**k), just a wee bit different. Chicago themselves attempted a carbon copy the following year with “Baby What A Big Surprise”, but we weren’t fooled and it only hit #41.

    intothefireuk – it had been released in the US in July, and in these pre-download days, it was of course quite common for a single to be released in the US several months prior to its UK release (if it was released in UK at all), and vice-versa. It was a pretty instant hit on its release over here, but you would probably have heard Gambaccini playing it pretty regularly throughout the summer. Several other DJs around that time kept one ear on the US charts, so it may have got some airplay on other shows too. If you were a chart freak, you would no doubt have been aware of it as it hit the Billboard top 30 in week ending 21st August.

    #2 watch – this prevented Leo Sayer having his first #1 with “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”

  37. 37
    Doctor Mod on 18 May 2008 #

    Waldo #35–

    Oh no, my dear! You truly overestimate my capabilities.

  38. 38
    lonepilgrim on 18 May 2008 #

    i’m surprised this charted so early as whenever i hear it on the radio i think of it as an 80s hit – maybe i get it confused with peter cetera’s later solo efforts

    it has a kind of four seasons feel to it, maybe because of the high, nasal voice – but this has a more blissed out feel that conjures up pictures of men in blouses and medallions with blow dried hair
    while googling some of the acts who followed that trend i discovered a new musical genre – yacht rock: details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yacht_rock

    re: no. 26 and the prog/aor pre-punk thing i seem to remember that among those writers who promoted those genres in the music press there was a lot of stuff which promoted ‘the studio’ as a scene of high-tech wizardry to which lesser mortals could never aspire until they had ‘paid their dues’ – the week after mick farren wrote his ‘titanic sails at dawn’ piece in the nme, max bell wrote a reply in which he sung the praises of steely dan and little feat amongst others

    punk didn’t sweep all that away for me at least – i was happy to listen to the sex pistols as well as steely dan and pink floyd

  39. 39
    DJ Punctum on 19 May 2008 #

    Cue Mark with Dan/Floyd as real punk heheh etc.

  40. 40
    Drucius on 19 May 2008 #

    Sloppy and slushy indeed. Which made it perfect for sloppy and slushy snogging.

  41. 41

    real punk = sutherland brothers and quiver heheh etc

  42. 42
    DJ Punctum on 19 May 2008 #

    He should have played Silver Convention instead.

  43. 43
    Lena on 19 May 2008 #

    And Issac Hayes!

    It could be that saying “six of four” is a bit of UK English that was taken to the US and is surviving in places – as a Californian I’ve never heard it, let alone said it.

    I’m starting to think everything besides Brotherhood of Man is the real punk…

  44. 44
    Billy Smart on 19 May 2008 #

    He could have played ‘Love Hangover’, too…

  45. 45
    DJ Punctum on 19 May 2008 #

    Fair’s fair, though – he did spare us the agony of “No Charge” and “Convoy GB.”

    Even with the thirties/forties nostalgia boom, isn’t Robin Sarstedt’s “My Resistance Is Low” the weirdest of top three hits?

  46. 46
    Ben on 20 May 2008 #

    There’s a truly bizarre version of this song by Brazilian singer Ive Mendes, which sounds like someone’s reprogrammed an automated call centre.

  47. 47
    Caledonianne on 25 May 2008 #

    I love “My resistance is low”, just as I did when I was 17. Fabulous arrangement, and another track that keeps me cosy, dozy company on the train home on the mad nights when the Commons sits ’til nearly midnight.

  48. 48
    Erithian on 27 May 2008 #

    Que? Are you saying there’s an MP hiding behind this alias?! or at least a Commons researcher?

  49. 49
    Brian on 2 Jun 2008 #

    There were several bands built around the same model as Chicago that were qiite big in North America. Maybe the UK has an aversion to horn sections.

    I’m thinking of Blood, Sweat & Tears, Electric Flag , Tower of Power, Cold Blood , Sons of Champlin and , in their own way Sly & The Family Stone.

    All these bands built around big sound and brassy , ballsy punchy , funky horn sections.

    I saw Chicago live ( more than once ) and certainly early on , when they were the Chicago Transit Authourity and Terry Kath was still there they were fabulous. Probably their best piece of music is the suite ” Make Me Smile ” on their second LP, I think.

  50. 50
    mike on 3 Jun 2008 #

    Oh Gawd, the Tony Blackburn on-air meltdown period. (The Jacksons’ “Dreamer”! Patrick Juvet’s “Just Another Lonely Man!”) Even at his most nauseatingly chirpy, you could hear the underlying brittle desperation, which he was barely able (or indeed bothered) to conceal.

    Interesting that TB got behind “If You Leave Me Now”. I remember him playing Chicago’s “I’m A Man” as a “Revived 45”. When the record finished, he commented, almost apologetically: “That was from 1970, when the heavier stuff tended to get into the charts.” (Pause, then more brightly and briskly) “Aren’t you glad it’s not still 1970?!”

    I love this record. A solid 9 from me.

  51. 51
    DJ Punctum on 3 Jun 2008 #

    Surprised R2 haven’t considered Tone for presenting POTP; he would be right at home there.

  52. 52
    Brian on 3 Jun 2008 #

    (and also the best one of the lot from that side of the Atlantic were Toronto’s very own Lighthouse ……)

    Thanks for reminding me Marcello !Toronto had a big live R & B community in the sixties & seventies that may account for the popularity of big bands in these parts.
    Might also explain why Chicago were so popular here. David Clayton Thomas also from Toronto.

    For the record some of the local , blue eyed soul bands were Jon , Lee & The Checkmates, The Rougues ( i think Lighthouse Drummer , Skip Prokop , was original drummer ), Tom & Ian and The Soulset, Mandala, George Oliver . They mostly covered the US Soul Hits but had a big following and have actually become identified with the ” Toronto SOund “. Most played out of L’Cog D’or on YOnge Street and the same place was home to Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks , who later became The Band. Special place, special time.

  53. 53
    Andy Pandy on 25 Aug 2008 #

    Apparently to a lot of Chicago fans and certain members of the band this was the beginning of the end as they went from a “serious/albums orientated” band to one invoved in romantic pop songs. To me this and possibly “Baby What A Big Surprise” and maybe the disco-influenced album that contained “Streetplayer” (sampled and made famous by the Bucketheads “The Bomb”)were the final glimmers of class in a very worthwhile career. This single to me is pretty perfect in every way and the paucity of similar standrard stuff at No1 just goes to show how the quality of No1’s has been on an almost downward trajectory ever since the late70s/80s. And if anyone says they prefer “New Rose” to this I’d have to consider whether they actually really do like music at all.

  54. 54
    DJ Punctum on 26 Aug 2008 #

    (a) I said it.

    (b) I’m right.

    (c) In common with everyone else on this planet, I don’t give a fuck what you consider. Deal with it.

  55. 55
    Mark G on 26 Aug 2008 #

    a) Me too

    b) It’s my opinion, and I also like 25 or 624 better than this

    c) one bracket is better for footnotes

  56. 56
    DJ Punctum on 26 Aug 2008 #

    I mean the guy’s actually two years younger than me and yet he comes across as a dreary old man; it’s depressing and I feel sorry for him. Ah well, DNFTT.

  57. 57
    mike on 26 Aug 2008 #

    a) Thirded. “If You Leave Me Now” is perfectly lovely, but “New Rose” was genuinely life-changing.

    b) I don’t like music; I love it!

  58. 58
    Mark G on 26 Aug 2008 #

    Well, in our 6th form year 6 we all between us had the common room filled with the punk and new wave. When we moved up to year 7, the new 6th year brought in La belle epoch and suchlike. It did seem at the time that the times were changing back…

  59. 59
    DJ Punctum on 26 Aug 2008 #

    In my common room day it was all Canadian hard rock – Rush, Max Webster, April Wine – and I still don’t quite get why they were so popular in my year.

  60. 60
    Mark G on 26 Aug 2008 #

    There were a lot of black armbands when LynSkyn went down, back in the day, there.

  61. 61
    DJ Punctum on 26 Aug 2008 #

    Pity Kid Rock didn’t slash his wrists in sympathy.

  62. 62
    hectorthebat on 19 Jul 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Q (UK) – The 1010 Songs You Must Own (2004)
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)
    Grammy Awards (USA) – Record of the Year Nominee
    Sounds (UK) – Singles of the Year

  63. 63
    Larry on 15 Nov 2014 #

    I actually liked this when listening to it just now, so I conclude from that that the ‘Popular’ comments section is changing my taste.

  64. 64
    Gareth Parker on 5 May 2021 #

    I think Chicago deserve an 8/10. I just think this is a really classy pop record and I like it more than I once did.

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)

If this was number 1 when you were born paste [stork-boy] or [stork-girl] into the start of your comment :)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page