To most, Chicago are little more than a by-word for pristine, saccharine-overloaded balladry.
Chicago: Now - XXXVI
Is the veteran band’s latest jamboree worth your brass?
To be fair to them, it’s been a few years since the likes of If You Leave Me Now, Hard Habit To Break or You’re The Inspiration held sway over the charts both sides of the Atlantic. It’s also worth noting that throughout the 70s Chicago indulged in the kind of music that would certainly have piqued the interest of the progressive music fan – Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon for example. Live, too, they remain an exhilarating proposition, and the release of the now-mythical Stone Of Sisyphus in 2008 (an album that their label refused to offer release back in 1994) suggested they might shift back to their earlier musical experimentation. Alas, that seems gone out the window with their latest album of all-new material, and 36 comprises mature (and not even all that memorable) adult rock that rarely breaks sweat. Indeed, they don’t even indulge in much power ballading; the cloying Love Lives On is the only meagre offering in that vein. The final two tracks, the quirky Naked In The Garden Of Allah and the beatific Another Trippy Day arouse interest, but even then, not that much. A disappointment, then.