Chicago XI

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Chicago XI
Chicago - Chicago XI.jpg
Studio album by Chicago
Released September 12, 1977
Recorded April – June 1977
Studio Caribou Ranch, Nederland, Colorado
Genre Rock
Length 44:33
Label Columbia
Producer James William Guercio
Chicago chronology
Chicago X
(1976)
Chicago XI
(1977)
Hot Streets
(1978)
Singles from Chicago XI
  1. "Baby, What a Big Surprise"
    Released: September 1977
  2. "Little One"
    Released: January 1978
  3. "Take Me Back to Chicago"
    Released: May 1978
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[1]

Chicago XI is the ninth studio album (eleventh overall) by the American band Chicago, released in 1977. The album marked the end of an era for Chicago in more ways than one. This would be the last Chicago album to feature guitarist and founding member Terry Kath prior to his death in an accident with a gun just over four months later, and the last Chicago album to be produced by James William Guercio.

Background[edit]

According to the web site, Ultimate Classic Rock, Chicago XI seems like a collection of solo songs rather than the work of the ensemble whole Chicago had been earlier in the 1970s.[2] Peter Cetera aimed to replicate the success of the Grammy-winning "If You Leave Me Now" with "Baby, What A Big Surprise", which proved to be the album's biggest hit, going to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.[3] This was his only writing contribution to the album and, quite atypically, the only song with him on lead vocals. Terry Kath revived his old live favorite "Mississippi Delta City Blues" for the album, while turning in a touching vocal on Danny Seraphine's "Little One." Seraphine also co-wrote "Take Me Back to Chicago", which charted at No. 63.[4] Kath, who was planning a forthcoming solo album,[5][6] may have intended "Takin' It On Uptown" — which, besides some uncredited backup singers, possibly features only Kath himself — as a solo album "preview" along the lines of Lamm's "Skinny Boy" on Chicago VII.[nb 1] James Pankow sang lead on his own "Till The End Of Time," as did Lee Loughnane on his original, "This Time." The once-prolific Robert Lamm contributed only two songs, the sympathetic "Policeman" and "Vote For Me."

The cover design for the album is called "Regional Map" on the group's official web site.[7]

Upon its September 1977 release, Chicago XI (Columbia 34860) reached No. 6 in the US on the Billboard 200,[8] stayed in the charts for 20 weeks and went platinum in October the same year.[9] It did not chart in the UK.[10]

In her review of the album for The Sydney Morning Herald, Christine Hogan said, "If there had never been a Chicago X, this album would have been the best ever made by these perennials."[11] Writing for the Wilmington, Delaware Evening Journal, Hugh Cutler called the album a "critical and commercial triumph" and said it even drew a "rave review" from Rolling Stone magazine.[12]

While recording Chicago XI, longtime producer James William Guercio's smothering artistic control had reached its breaking point, with the band deciding to take their career into their own hands and strike out on their own after finishing the album with him.[13] However, as big a change in their career as Guercio's dismissal would be for Chicago, it would be minor in comparison to the tragedy that awaited them.

On January 23, 1978, a few months after Chicago XI's release, Terry Kath, regarded by many (including Dweezil Zappa)[14] as the "soul" of Chicago, accidentally and fatally shot himself during a party at roadie Don Johnson's house. A gun enthusiast, Kath attempted to calm the guests' surprise when—while reportedly inebriated—he pulled out his gun to clean it by demonstrating that it was unloaded and promptly pointed the gun to his head and pulled the trigger, not realizing a bullet was in the chamber. The remaining members of Chicago were shocked and devastated by Kath's death, and even considered breaking up. After a few weeks of mourning, they decided to move on, thus beginning a new era in the band's history. They would recruit singer/guitarist Donnie Dacus for the follow-up, Hot Streets.[15][16]

In 2002, Chicago XI was remastered and reissued by Rhino Records with rehearsal recordings of Pankow's "Wish I Could Fly" (backing track) and Lamm's "Paris" as bonus tracks.

Track listing[edit]

Side One
No.TitleWriter(s)VocalsLength
1."Mississippi Delta City Blues"Terry KathTerry Kath4:39
2."Baby, What a Big Surprise"Peter CeteraPeter Cetera3:04
3."Till the End of Time"James PankowJames Pankow4:49[nb 2]
4."Policeman"Robert LammRobert Lamm4:02
5."Take Me Back to Chicago"Danny Seraphine/Hawk WolinskiLamm5:17
Side Two
No.TitleWriter(s)VocalsLength
6."Vote for Me"LammLamm3:47
7."Takin' It on Uptown"KathKath4:45
8."This Time"Lee LoughnaneLee Loughnane4:44
9."The Inner Struggles of a Man"Dominic Frontiere[nb 3]Instrumental2:44
10."Prelude (Little One)"Seraphine/WolinskiKath0:52
11."Little One"Seraphine/WolinskiKath5:40

Personnel[edit]

Chicago[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

  • David "Hawk" Wolinski – keyboards on "Take Me Back to Chicago" and "Little One'
  • James William Guercio – guitar and bass on "Baby, What a Big Surprise"
  • Tim Cetera – backing vocals on "Baby, What a Big Surprise"
  • Carl Wilson – backing vocals on "Baby, What a Big Surprise"
  • Chaka Khan – backing vocals "Take Me Back to Chicago"
  • Dominic Frontiere – orchestration on "Baby, What a Big Surprise", "The Inner Struggles of a Man", and "Little One"
  • The Voices of Inspiration – choir on "Vote for Me"

Production[edit]

  • Producer - James William Guercio
  • Audio engineer - Wayne Tarnowski
  • Assistant engineer – Tom Likes
  • Strings - Armin Steiner at Sound Labs (Hollywood, California).
  • Audio mastering - Mike Reese at The Mastering Lab (Los Angeles, California).
  • Album cover design – John Berg
  • Logo design – Nick Fasciano
  • Inside photography – Reid Miles

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Year Chart Position
1977 Billboard Pop Albums 6

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart Position
1977 "Baby, What a Big Surprise" Billboard Pop Singles 4
1978 "Little One" Billboard Pop Singles 44
1978 "Take Me Back to Chicago" Billboard Pop Singles 63

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.allmusic.com/album/r3854/review
  2. ^ "Chicago Albums Ranked Worst to Best". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  3. ^ "Chicago Baby, What A Big Surprise Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  4. ^ "Chicago Take Me Back To Chicago Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  5. ^ Mieses, Stan (December 8, 1976). "Room for Individuality in Chicago". Playground Daily News. Fort Walton Beach, Florida, USA. p. 6B. Retrieved June 10, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. Free to read
  6. ^ Wood, Tim. "Terry Kath's Official Bio Pages".
  7. ^ "Chicago XI". www.chicagotheband.com. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  8. ^ "Chicago Chicago XI Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  9. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA". RIAA. RIAA. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  10. ^ "CHICAGO | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  11. ^ Hogan, Christine (October 24, 1977). "A mellow Chicago". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, Australia. p. 3, The SMH Monday Guide section. Retrieved July 5, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.Free to read
  12. ^ Cutler, Hugh (November 9, 1977). "Chicago Brings It Back at the Spectrum". Evening Journal. Wilmington, Delaware, USA. p. 48. Retrieved July 5, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.Free to read
  13. ^ Ruhlmann, Willam James (1991). Chicago Group Portrait (Box Set) (CD booklet archived online) (Media notes). Columbia Records. p. 7. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  14. ^ "My Top 10 Guitarists". Dweezil Zappa. Retrieved July 6, 2018.
  15. ^ Jerome, Jim (October 16, 1978). "Chicago's 'Alive Again'!". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  16. ^ Ruhlmann, William James (1991). Chicago Group Portrait (Box Set) (CD booklet archived online) (Media notes). New York City, NY: Columbia Records. p. 8. Retrieved July 5, 2018.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ A note in the credits for "Takin' It On Uptown" says "This song appears through the courtesy of Cook County Music. Keep your eyes open." The same note appears on the single where "Uptown" is the B-side of "Baby, What A Big Surprise."
  2. ^ CD versions fade this song out slightly earlier than the LP version.
  3. ^ The original LP ambiguously gives a single writing credit of Seraphine/Wolinski/Fronteire to "The Inner Struggles of a Man" and "Prelude (Little One)" together.