Chicago, “Satin Doll” from Chicago VIII (2002 reissue): Saturdays in the Park

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I was all excited when I found out that Chicago was going to be on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in 1974 – and amazed when they played Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll.” I watched the show with my future wife at her house while waiting for 1975 to arrive.

The octet, who by this time were joined full time by percussionist Laudir de Oliveira, didn’t sound anything at all like themselves on this arrangement. This is strictly a jazz piece. If I was listening to them play Ellington that evening with my eyes closed, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that it was Chicago – and I was someone who knew their music intimately.

I loved it because this performance showed the band’s versatility, and their willingness to try anything. Lee Loughnane’s trumpet solo fits perfectly, Robert Lamm tinkled the ivories like he was Oscar Peterson, and Terry Kath’s accompanying rhythm guitar was as smooth as silk.

I’m sure detractors probably scoffed at what they considered old-time music, but I was quite happy when Chicago finished the instrumental. Watching them perform in tuxedos rather than their sloppy rock attire was also nice for a change.

I never heard the tune again until it turned up on Rhino’s 2002 re-issue of 1975’s Chicago VIII. What I didn’t know until then was that the song was actually pre-recorded over a month earlier for later broadcast on New Year’s Eve. I was disappointed to discover that fact, especially so many years later.

‘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.

Charlie Ricci

Charlie Ricci

Charlie Ricci maintains Bloggerhythms, where he talks about music, concerts, and a wide range of other musical topics. In August 2008, his site placed at No. 87 on a list of the Top 100 music-related blogs according to Alexa, a web ranking service. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Charlie Ricci
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