One Track Mind: Chicago, “Crazy Happy” (2013)

Chicago was on a roll in 2013, as the venerable band capped off the year with the release of the song “Crazy Happy.” The single, released in late December and co-penned by bassist Jason Scheff and keyboardist Robert Lamm, is the third released by the band since the spring of ’13 and reflects the band’s new just-in-time recording style.

Like its predecessors, “Somethin’ Comin’ I Know” and “America,” the basic track was recorded is a very short period in between tour stops. This time, Jason Scheff took the controls and recorded the guitar, bass, synths and keyboards at his home studio in Nashville. Co-producer and engineer Hank Linderman then worked his overdubbing magic, recording the horns while the band had a few hours between gigs at a hotel in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The horns were arranged by Trent Gardner and feature some-time Chicago horn stand-ins Larry Klimas on alto sax and Nick Lane on trombone, with band founder Lee Loughnane on flugelhorn. Additional guitar was added by Keith Howland and live drums by Tris Imboden with percussion by the great Walfredo Reyes Jr.

The result is very similar to the single released in the spring, “Somethin’s Comin’ I Know.” “Crazy Happy” sounds like Chicago despite the stand-in horn players and the thoroughly modern production. Scheff has continued the trend started on the album Chicago XXX in writing or co-writing songs for other voices in the band. Scheff’s voice blends effortlessly with Lamm’s. Meanwhile, Lamm continues his reemergence as a writer and vocalist — with very favorable results. The song is up-tempo and catchy. Tris Imboden’s drums were recorded on the tour bus by Howland and Scheff, yet they sound modern and appropriate for the song and mesh seamlessly with Reyes’ percussion.

What could be better than a new Chicago single to end the year? How about a new Chicago album of original material in 2014!

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Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Chicago. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

4 Comments

  1. Glenn Cotler says:

    Always happy with new music! Just disappointed that the stand in horn players were used! I think this is a first!
    They should have postponed the recording when Jimmy and Walt could be present!

    • Preston Frazier says:

      Glenn, they have used a baritone player on Chicago 21 and additional horn players on Chicago 16/17/18 . They have used standin vocalist, synth players, keyboardist and many guitarist on a bunch of albums. They’ve used standin drummers too. For decades the horn guys have taken off time from tours. All this dates back to at least Chicago VII.
      Preston

  2. I love this song. Great Bobby vocal, classic Chicago bridge. Regarding the horns, it might be worth speculating that Chicago is looking into its long-term future, seeing how sub players and arrangers sound on their new releases. Maybe these guys will become the new horn section? Is it OK for the original guys to sit out a little after 47 years on the road? If so, I feel this signifies a continuation of the band’s trademark sound with new blood but with the soul of Chicago.

    • Preston Frazier says:

      Rich, it’s interesting the band didn’t co-arrange the horns. All 3 new songs sound great though .

      Thanks for your comments!
      Preston

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