Featherweight US rockers at their commercial peak
Chicago developed from their jazz-rock roots (as Chicago Transit Authority, whose version of “I’m A Man” is essential) into a group whose music was so devoid of edge it was practically amorphous. Listening to these reissues today, there’s a perverse pleasure in the ruthless soft-pomp balladry of megahits “If You Leave Me Now” (from 1976’s X) and “Baby, What A Big Surprise” (from 1977’s XI). Unfortunately, vocalist/bassist Peter Cetera’s sentimental excursions provide only momentary respite from the impeccably played but dishwaterdull boogie on offer elsewhere. XI is partly redeemed by the Little Feat-lite funk of “Mississippi Delta City Blues”, but otherwise it’s horn-dominated monotony all the way.