Growing up in the 1980s, my first exposure to the band Chicago was through their megahit ballads. “You’re the Inspiration”, “Hard Habit to Break”, and “Will You Still Love Me?” were constantly on the radio and MTV. Seeing as how I kept my stereo tuned in to the top 40 stations constantly, these power chord love songs shaped my perception of Chicago’s musical style.
As I got older, I learned more about Chicago’s earlier tone, which was a stark contrast to the sound they had in the 80s. More of a jazz/rock hybrid, the Chicago of the 70s was perhaps best exemplified by the classic song “25 or 6 to 4”. The percussive bass line, brilliant horns, and stellar guitar solo are a far cry from Chicago’s later work, and I grew to appreciate the band’s earlier style as much as nostalgia fueled my love for the later stuff.
Just a few weeks ago, I found a Chicago gem that manages to mix the 70s and 80s sounds together into a glorious fusion of funk and pop. In 1986, the band remastered “25 or 6 to 4” in a more high-tech style, and the end result is glorious. The high concept sci-fi music video adds even more to the allure, featuring the “distant” future world of 2036 as imagined in 1986. It’s obviously inspired by Orwell’s 1984 but with a dash of big hair thrown in for good measure.
It’s hard to believe we are now closer to 2036 than we are to 1986. Perhaps that is the appeal of this remixed version of “25 or 6 to 4”. Just like the protagonists, when I watch the video on Youtube, or play the music on my phone, I can travel through time, even if it’s just for a few moments.