Chicago, “It Better End Soon” from Chicago II: Live on Soundstage (2018): One Track Mind

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In many ways, Chicago’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2017 was a dud. Sure, the band had a well-received tour with the Doobie Brothers and successfully integrated bassist/vocalist Jeff Coffey into the group, but their tour wasn’t particularly different than those which have gone before.

In 2018, however, they kicked off the year with a flurry of activity – most of it good. The lineup underwent a huge personnel shift, which is well documented. Along the way, they released their best box set, Chicago: VI Decades Live (This is What We Do), and continue to tour extensively. The year also saw the continued playing of 1970’s Chicago II in its entirety. Out now is the Chicago II: Live on Soundstage, which captures the band’s recreation of the album.

It’s easy to overlook this new live project, as it can’t match the musical gravitas of the Decades box set, but there’s plenty to enjoy here. The mostly Robert Lamm-written “It Better End Soon” stands out among the highlights on Live on Soundstage.

Keith Howland gets to provide his own stamp of Terry Kath’s original guitar leads. Howland, the longest-tenured Chicago guitarist, makes both the intro to the song and the leads his own, while never straying too far from the Kath framework. Vocalist/organist Lou Pardini doesn’t hold back either, as his lead vocal fits the funky social commentary and seems totally inspired by the message. A tip of the hat must also go to saxophonist Ray Hermann, whose tenor solo leaves the listener out of breath with amazement.

It’s unfortunate that this version of the band was short lived, as it’s clear Jeff Coffey had more to offer. Fortunately, this short period in the group’s history was documented with Chicago II: Live on Soundstage. I guess this will have to do.


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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