Chicago, “Skin Tight” from Chicago X (1976): Saturday in the Park

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“Skin Tight,” the second composition by trombonist James Pankow on 1976’s Chicago X, finds bassist Peter Cetera singing a sort of 12-bar blues. He uses his growling blues-rock / R&B voice to great effect over Robert Lamm’s jazzy electric piano chords and Danny Seraphine’s drum fills.

The horns then unexpectedly kick in with great R&B swagger. Walt Parazaider overdubs baritone sax on top of his tenor for some extra funk. As for the lyrics, they aren’t going to give anyone a headache trying to decipher their deep meaning:

Skin tight, fits me like a glove
Your lovin’ is skin tight
Any time of day or night
Your lovin’ is alright
Skin tight

The horns play a bluesy unison figure, Pankow has a nice little trombone solo and the great Terry Kath kicks the funk up even higher with a greasy wah-wah guitar solo. Lamm provides terrific bluesy Rhodes fills throughout.

The results aren’t earth shattering, but “Skin Tight” makes for a nice little trip back to the kind of gutty rhythm and blues that this band was once known for. The album’s very next track, “If You Leave Me Now,” points Chicago in a direction that Terry Kath, the rest of the band (save for Peter Cetera, the tune’s author) and many ’70s fans (including myself) never wanted them to take. So, take a moment to enjoy what I feel is a small buried gem.

Next, allow me to make the case for a few other decent cuts on what turns out to be an extremely uneven album. I also love “Once or Twice” and “Scrapbook,” along with the bonus cuts “I’d Rather Be Rich” and (especially) “Your Love’s an Attitude.” Why didn’t they finish that and flush “Hope For Love?” (“I don’t know, no I don’t, don’t I know…” Ugh.) “Gently I’ll Wake You” is fine.

Elsewhere, Pankow’s “You Are On My Mind” and Lee Loughnane’s “Together Again” are decent tunes and arrangements hampered by poor lead vocals. (Loughnane fares better than Pankow, but Kath, Lamm or Cetera would have killed on those.) “Another Rainy Day in New York City” is ruined by Cetera’s pseudo-Latin accent, which in 2018 sounds pretty racist. “Mama, Mama” is Cetera filler. “You Get It Up” should have been an instrumental with a different title and everyone taking a solo. As is, it’s a horror.

“Blow, anyone?” That’s my take on Chicago X.


‘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.

Bob Helme

Bob Helme

Bob Helme, a contributor to our weekly song-by-song series on Chicago called Saturdays in the Park, is a father of two with an MBA who still plays jazz part-time. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Bob Helme
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