Today is Christmas Eve. It’s almost 8am as I sit down to write in this blog. The weather outside is, well, not quite frightful, but it’s not pretty, either. It’s 38 degrees out there, and chances of rain are pretty high all day long. Possible snow showers tonight, but the low will barely get below 40. So it’s just a grey, dreary day. But it’s Christmas Eve, I’m not working, and we have our family here, so it’s a beautiful day.
I haven’t had as much time to do my ripping this week, due to Christi being off work (it’s not her fault…I’m just getting up later, since she’s not getting up at 5:30 every morning), but this morning, I put the finishing touches on the next Chicago album, “Hot Streets,” released in 1978.
There are several differences for this one. First, it’s the first album to have a name, other than the group’s name and a number. The first album was eponymous, called “Chicago Transit Authority.” Allegedly, the second album was just called “Chicago,” (this according to a wiki article) but I have an original vinyl recording, and it says “Chicago II” on the spine. The point is, all of the first 11 albums are titled with the group’s name and a number, specifically Roman numerals. But Terry Kath has just died recently, and the group, after almost calling it quits altogether, has decided that a change is in order. Another difference in this one is the album cover. All of the previous albums featured simply the logo of the band in various formats. Chocolate bars, leather, wood carvings, a tattered flag, etc. This one feathers, as you can see, a photo of the band. Let’s see if I can find a picture of the whole cover. Sure enough…here’s the complete outside cover.
And here’s the complete inside cover.
Now…I’ve noticed something strange. On the inside cover, there are eight people, each with a name over them. On the outside, there are NINE! I have not been able to find any kind of explanation for this. The only thing I can figure is, it looks like James Pankow is on the cover twice, once on each end. But he’s wearing a different shirt on the left end.
The third thing that is different is, of course, there is a new guitar player. Donnie Dacus has joined the group as the lead guitar player. He will last two albums. As far as I know, the band never had another guitar player named as a legitimate part of the group. The one time I saw Chicago, back in the eighties somewhen, (or possibly early nineties) the guitar player stood at the back of the stage, apart from the main guys. Hmm…I take that back. On Chicago 17, possibly their most commercially successful album, Chris Pinnick is listed as band personnel. He was listed as “additional musicians” on XIV and 16. 15 was another greatest hits. I don’t own that one, either.
Anyway…I’ve rambled on enough about that. Hot Streets wound up with three single releases. The first one was aptly titled “Alive Again.” It reached number 14 as a pop single. Next was “No Tell Lover,” which reached 14 as a pop single, but 5 as adult contemporary. “Gone Long Gone” only reached 73 as a pop single. The album, itself, reached number 12 on the Billboard charts.
I decided to share this youtube video of one of the non-single songs from Hot Streets, called “Ain’t It Time.” It features Donnie Dacus as the lead vocalist for this song. Peter Cetera can be heard doing bgv. It’s from a 1979 concert.
My next selection from 1000 Recordings is more Bach. Bach to Bach? Heh. Sorry. This one is “The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1” performed by Till Fellner. I’m not even going to try to type the German title of this recording.
With all due respect to virtuoso violinists, this recording was much more interesting than the solo violin sonatas. You see, I do play piano, and was trained in classical piano early on. I think I have even played the first prelude in C Major. When that piece started, it brought back joyful memories of piano lessons a few streets over from my childhood home. Anyway, the caption for the article is “The Old Testament of Keyboard Music, Reborn.” You see, Bach wrote these pieces for his students. There are 48 pieces in this work. One prelude and one fugue for each key, from C Major all the way to B Minor. They preludes vary in style, but the fugues typically follow the rules. Just as I felt after listening to “Chester and Lester,” after listening to Till Fellner’s performance of “The Well-Tempered Clavier,” I didn’t know whether to go home and practice, or go home and burn my piano. I can’t do that right now, though…it’s covered with Christmas presents.
Here is a youtube clip of Fellner playing one of the prelude/fugue pairs. I think it’s the ones in F# Major. But I’m not positive. Sadly, I don’t remember what “fis-dur” means. Anyway, you can hear the beauty of this young man’s playing.
This was a beautiful recording, so much so that I listened to it twice, over the course of two days, just to get the fullness of it.
That’s it for today. Time to get into my devotional blog, Revelling in the Overflowing Grace of God.
Have a very Merry Christmas, all!