Chicago, “Anyway You Want” from Chicago VIII (1975): Saturdays in the Park

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By the time Chicago went into the studios in late 1974 to record Chicago VIII, they’d been touring and recording virtually non-stop since 1969. In just five years, they had released 10 double-sided records worth of high-quality new material while rising from bar band to superstar headliner, touring North America, the United Kingdom, continental Europe and Japan.

They sold out a full week at Carnegie Hall, participated in two television specials, and several members played minor roles in a movie directed by their producer. They were the only rock act chosen to honor Duke Ellington at an all-star tribute playing on the same bill as the likes of Count Basie, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles.

Nobody can keep up this relentless pace without hitting the wall, and Chicago did it with 1975’s Chicago VIII. Is it any wonder that the band sounds exhausted, and doesn’t put forward their best material on the cardinal album? There’s very little of the inventiveness left from Chicago VII. The horns and percussion are very controlled and don’t go off on jazz tangents. Nobody gets a solo, and there are even a few songs with no horns at all.

The songs on the eighth album are mostly about nostalgia: tributes to deceased musicians, remembrances of childhood, regrets about past loves or decisions. The remaining songs are for the most part undistinguished. Chicago VIII is the first Chicago album where the filler is actually filler, not just good overlooked songs.

“Anyway You Want” is one of those filler songs, contributed by Peter Cetera but lacking his inventive melodic sense or any interesting James Pankow horn arranging. It starts out by copying Jim Croce’s famous song set in Chicago and shuffles along until it fades out. “Anyway You Want” sounds like Cetera dashed it off in five minutes when they needed something to to shove onto the album at the last minute. And this is the lead-off song?

A year later, Canadian singer Charity Brown recorded a note-for-note cover that hit the Top Ten in Canada. Her version neither ruins nor improves upon the original.


‘Saturdays in the Park’ is a multi-writer, song-by-song examination of the music of Chicago. Find it here at Something Else! each weekend.

CelticGal

CelticGal

CelticGal grew up in northern Indiana and now lives on the back cover of the 'Chicago XI' album. A fan of Chicago (the Good Parts Version, e.g. the lineups with Peter Cetera) since 1978, she is the author of 'The Famous Becky's Island Chicago Reviews' and 'Becky's Island Music Trivia Quizzes,' found at www.beckysisland.com. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com
CelticGal
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  • Ron Neville

    Charity Brown’s Canadian hit version was the first one back in the 70s, actually before I became a Chicago fan…..I love it, it’s got snap, and Charity’s vocal is sweet and sassy. I find the Chicago version kinda plods along…if you play it in Youtube at 1.25X speed, it gives it a nice boost…

    • CelticGal

      I had no idea you could speed up Youtube videos. 1.5X is pretty good too!

      • Ron Neville

        It’s neat eh? I don’t know if you can do it with all videos, I think the person who posts has to allow it somehow.

  • Peter M

    I disagree that it was filler…i like that track…

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