Chicago, “Bethlehem” from What’s It Gonna Be Santa? (2003): Saturdays in the Park

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Rhino’s What’s It Gonna Be Santa? seemed like a warmed-over money grab after the 1998 release of Chicago XXV: The Christmas Album. Sure, this 2003 project added six songs, overseen by 13/Hot Streets producer Phil Ramone, but only the Jason Scheff-sung “This Christmas” and Keith Howland’s “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” are worth the price of admission.

Bill Champlin and his wife Tamara composed “Bethlehem,” one of the new tracks for What’s It Gonna Be Santa, but it’s at best forgettable. Ramone’s production is a step backwards from the Roy Bittan’s work on Chicago XXV. The horn arrangement by Champlin seems lazy. Frankly, there is little else going on musically.

Meanwhile, Champlin’s falsetto seems strained and the vocal by trumpeter Lee Loughnane is downright painful. Only Jason Scheff’s voice offers some level of comfort. Bill Champlin is said to have always pushed new music on the band. This is once case where Chicago should said no.


‘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.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. 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.
Preston Frazier
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