Chicago, “Scrapbook” from Chicago X (1976): Saturdays in the Park

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Was it drink, drugs, or the relentless touring which makes 1976’s Chicago X such an uneven album? Chicago seemed intent on working themselves into the ground, and the booze and cocaine were taking their toll.

That doesn’t mean that Chicago X wasn’t without its gems. The album produced two hits, one being a monster. The album also made it to No. 1. Elsewhere, my favorite deep cut is the Robert Lamm-penned and -sung “Scrapbook.” Chicago is as funky as a three-day-old Band-Aid.

Terry Kath’s multi-tracked rhythm guitar sets the pace, while Peter Cetera delivers some of his funkiest and inspired bass playing. Cetera’s bottom end is often overlooked because he’s such a superb singer. Here, he lets his Fender do the talking. Danny Seraphine doesn’t rush the beat, preferring this time to lay back to give the song a sense of anticipation while Laudir de Olivera’s wood blocks work in tandem to the beat.

Robert Lamm is equally moved, with a single-tracked lead vocal where he spits out a the tale of Chicago’s rise and some highlights from the road. It’s almost ironic that the song “Plaid,” which Lamm wrote with Bill Champlin from the belatedly released Chicago XXXII: Stone of Sisyphus album revisits almost the same subject matter with a much different outcome.

Lamm also gets to work his hands around the keyboard, providing his most striking Hammond B-3 organ playing on Chicago X. James Pankow’s horn chart, with its Tower of Power feel, is also more than up to the task. There even sounds like touches of baritone sax swirling in the mix of tenor, trumpet and trombone.

The live-in-the-studio sound of “Scrapbook” is an unexpected highlight and, given some of this album’s more pedestrian offerings, a great palate cleanser.

‘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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