“An Hour In the Shower” is perhaps one of Chicago’s most unusual songs. Never before – or since – had the band tackled such heavy subjects as breakfast food and masturbation.
Throughout the song, Terry Kath’s vocal delivery has an amusing, tongue-in-cheek vibe to it. Given the seriousness of Robert Lamm’s political commentary, and the overly pretentious closing of the album, the entertaining tone of the entire “Hour in the Shower” suite is a welcome respite – and a reminder that as serious as Chicago took themselves at times, they did still know how to have fun.
I’d go so far as to argue that “An Hour In the Shower” saves Chicago III from its own weight, seriousness, and overblown vibe of self-importance. Where the earlier Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago II had a nice balance, Chicago III had so much going on from the cover art, to the band photos in military garb, to the Kendrew Laschelles poem that it needed something to give it a little whimsy – a bit of fun.
But one of the best parts of “An Hour In the Shower” is that even as whimsical as the lyrics are, musically Chicago totally brings it. The horn chart is solid, and the rhythm section is firing on all cylinders. It shows that the band, even in the most playful of musical moments, doesn’t let up.
My only complaint is that “An Hour In the Shower” didn’t end the album. Immediately following this song is the overly pretentious multi-part “Elegy.” It ends Chicago III on a much more somber/heavier note than I feel was really necessary, and it makes the whole anti-war statement of the album about as subtle as a jackhammer in a library.
Had this studio project ended with the levity of “An Hour In the Shower,” it would have given Chicago III a more positive/upbeat vibe. After all, as stated in the liner notes to the previous release, Chicago’s albums are meant to be listened to from start to finish. And what a fun finish it would have been – to hear about “tasty spam,” an “electric friend,” and a “maypole” that “comes out to play?”
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