Chicago Did Disco?!

I learned alot from watching Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago, the two-hour documentary on the band Chicago, but I’ll gloss over the most important points:

  1. Lee Loughnane is a softy. If something is cry-worthy, he will tear up.
  2. Peter Cetera has an ego. It only happened after he lost weight.
  3. Bill Champlin has a HUGE ego. It had nothing to do with weight loss, it just has to do with who he thought the star was. If you saw the statement of declination he gave when contacted for an interview (and Jimmy Pankow’s stance on him), you’d understand what I’m talking about.
  4. David Foster has bragging rights – he was interviewed while sitting in front of all his Grammy trophies, after all.
  5. Words are not minced.
  6. Jimmy Pankow is not afraid to mince those words.

Chicago, through much of the 1970s, was much like Chicago in the late 1960s – lots of horns and tough, gritty-sounding rock. Conversely, the 1980s became the power ballad-heavy Cetera years (and later, the Jason Scheff years – he was equally at home covering the grit as well as the power). Oh, and Bill Champlin (and his giant ego) also churned out those incredible power ballads. After all, he did work with David Foster. Foster is a genius, just ask my mom.

As I’m writing this (ok, when I started writing this), I’m listening to one of those Cetera power ballads, Along Comes a Woman. I’ve never heard this song before, but I’ll venture to guess it was from one of those 1980s albums (I checked – it is from Chicago 17, which was Cetera’s final album). If it sounds Cetera-worthy, it is only because he wrote it. But there are horns involved. Because leaving out Lee Loughnane, Jimmy Pankow, and Walt Parazaider would be a sin.

Between the grit and the power, there was this strange and trippy time in the land of Chicago (the band, not the city). It was land they hadn’t ventured into before, and, thankfully, it was abandoned quite quickly. It came of the 1970s music fad better known as Disco. And while groups like Earth Wind and Fire (though I’d liken their version as more along the lines of “funk” than actual disco) and The Bee Gees could do it, Chicago proved there was one thing they just could not (and should not) do.

1979 saw the release of Chicago’s eleventh studio album (titled Chicago XIII, because yeah, Roman Numerals), and while I don’t exactly recognize any of the track listings, there was this one song that just absolutely stands out, and not for the right reasons. And believe it or not,  I had never heard it until the documentary, and I just found out (yea research!) that the album not only had the distinction of being released exactly one month after (August 13, 1979) Disco Destruction Night at Chicago’s Comiskey Park (July 12, 1979), but the song itself was released in September 1979. So it was not only the last gasp for disco (or one of those last gasps), it also sounded like the end of Chicago itself, and it was the actual end of Donnie Dacus’s time with Chicago.

That song, you ask? “Street Player,” of course!

Uploaded by TerrenceSays

I’ll be frank with you – there are alot of songs left off the set list for a Chicago performance. Many (like the songs from Hot Streets and this stinky album) for a good reason, but many from the Power Ballad era as well (I’m questioning some of that). This song neatly fits into the “Left Off For a Good Reason” category, but probably should have been burned for sounding like the worst thing Peter Cetera ever sang. I actually feel bad for him (which is hard for me, considering what I’ve heard about him), but this is a terrible attempt to cash in on a music styling that was basically nearing the end of its life.

And no, Cetera didn’t write this. You can thank Danny Seraphine for this…whatever you want to call it.

The funny thing about this song (besides the concept of it, and the fact that I only just found out it existed) is that I better remember it as the 1995 song The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind), and only because I don’t like that song either. But in actuality, before Chicago made it sound entirely too white (I don’t mean that in a nice way), it was sung by Rufus in 1978 (you know, the group Chaka Khan was part of?). It was co-written by then-Chicago drummer Danny Seraphine for their recording pleasure, and let’s just be grateful he wasn’t sacked ten years earlier than he was for Chicago singing it Rufus.

Apparently, all of Chicago XIII is just like this – stinky and not gritty or powerful. I’m understanding why Columbia paid them to leave the label in the early 1980s…and why Donnie Dacus was kicked out of the group.

And because you’re dying to see the video of this performance…

Uploaded by You Are Now Entering The “Gretschman7’s” Channel

Seriously, glorious Peter Cetera hair…can you dig it, street player?

No, I can’t.

See what I did there?!

Oh, and apparently, they performed it in 2015, with Jason Scheff singing the lead vocals…

Uploaded by Riky41970

The only reason this version is tolerable is because it is shorter. And forgive me, I saw them perform in 2015, and I don’t remember this from the concert.

Just blame Donnie Dacus for all of this. And Disco. Blame DISCO!

Will you still love Allison for forcing this insane earworm on you? For good times you’ll remember, you can also take a look at her blog, Allison’s Written Words. Hold your mouse key, preferably on the “like” button on her blog’s Facebook page, and then getaway to Twitter, where you can find her at @AllisonGeeksOut. 

She really wants to tell you she’s sorry…that she quoted even more Chicago lyrics than she has in past articles.

Again, not old hat with Allison:

Christmas With Horns

Chicago Proclaims Someone Else is “Bigger Than Elvis”

Will You Still Love the Changing Face of Chicago?

Hard to Say I’m Sorry (That You May Never Have Heard this Chicago Song Before!)

Allison L. Venezio
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Allison L. Venezio

Secretary/Blogger-Writer at Allison's Written Words and Retroist
Allison is a Secretary by day, a writer/blogger by night (and during lunch breaks and in the mornings before work), a nostalgia geek (and a geek in general), worshipper of Thor (and Chris Hemsworth), and honorary Avenger (she has a pin, so it is official).She collects Itty Bittys and Funko Pops, loves anything that takes her back to childhood, and has confessed her love for Kenny Loggins.Oh, and she listens to Chicago...alot.If any of this piques your interest, she'd love for you to visit her personal blog, Allison's Written Words, where she talks about alot of the same stuff she talks about here, and more!

She can be found at allisonveneziowrites.com.You can follow her blog on Facebook (facebook.com/allisonswrittenwords) and on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.
Allison L. Venezio
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