Chicago, “Gently I’ll Wake You” from Chicago X (1976): Saturdays in the Park

Share this:

Featuring all of what made Robert Lamm some an integral part of Chicago’s early sound, “Gently I’ll Wake You” opens with some fun and light piano chops, setting the stage for Lamm’s soft vocals 13 seconds into the song. Terry Kath’s rhythm guitar work gently dances with Lamm’s piano, as Lamm and Kath complementing each other’s playing like a hand to a glove.

The horns, while a noticeable accent (as they should be), don’t overpower the song as they at times had the potential to do. Rather than sounding like they’re forcing themselves through the door and demanding to be heard, the horns casually saunter in and do a bit of a slow dance with the vocals, keys, and guitar — making themselves known with a subtle indoor voice as opposed to an in-your-face shouting match.

Sadly, this deep cut from 1976’s Chicago X also marks what is perhaps the last example of Robert Lamm’s vocal versatility. Going back to songs like “I Don’t Want Your Money” from 1971’s Chicago III or “Skinny Boy” from 1974’s Chicago VII, Lamm was a veritable vocal chameleon changing his vocal style completely in order to fit the material he was singing. “Gently I’ll Wake You” shifts from his soft easy-going falsetto for the verses to his much-grittier baritone for the choruses, giving Chicago’s listeners the best of both.

While Robert Lamm’s voice has held up over the years, he’s rarely, if ever, returned to the creative vocal delivery he used on “Gently I’ll Wake You” and a handful of songs prior to that. Unfortunately, from that point on, he sang everything pretty straightforward in his traditional “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” / “Saturday in the Park” vocal style.

All in all, “Gently I’ll Wake You” is one of the few high points on what is perhaps the most uneven / messy album the original line-up of Chicago ever released. And if they were to ever release an album focusing on or highlighting Robert Lamm’s contributions to Chicago, “Gently I’ll Wake You” would be an integral inclusion.


‘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.

Perplexio

Perplexio

Perplexio also maintains a stand-alone blog called The Review Revue, where he explores music, movies and books. He spearheaded 'Saturdays in the Park,' our weekly multi-writer, song-by-song series focused on the music of Chicago. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelse reviews.com.
Perplexio
Share this:
Close