Albums of the ’80s: Chicago 16

From 1969 to 1978, Chicago was one of the most successful bands in the world. Their fusion of rock and roll with a horn section gave the band a unique sound, and they had some incredible hits like —”Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”, “Beginnings”, “25 or 6 to 4”, and “Colour My World”.

In 1978, legendary lead guitarist Terry Kath, who was the heart and soul of the band, died from an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound. Chicago almost broke up after that, but decided to carry on. In the process, they began to change their sound from rock/jazz to pop and ballads. Their first album after Kath’s death, 1978’s Hot Streets, was pretty successful. However, the band went on a dry spell after that.

Then in 1981, Chicago brought in new producer, David Foster. They also changed record labels from Columbia to Warner Brothers. Keyboardist/guitarist/singer Bill Champlin also joined the band. So the band caught a second wind as David Foster radically changed the band’s sound for the ’80s. The first album of this era was 1982’s Chicago 16.
For this album, David Foster also brought in studio musicians, including core members of Toto. The album was a big hit, especially as “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” became the band’s second #1 US single. The album went platinum, and reach #9 on the U.S. Billboard charts.

Let’s listen to this great album.

What You’re Missing

Not a bad way to start the album. The keyboards are strong, the horn section is featured, and you can’t go wrong with Peter Cetera on vocals.

Waiting for You to Decide

Peter Cetera starts with the lead vocals. We are then introduced to Bill Champlin. They sound great together.

Bad Advice

This song has a Blues/Funk sound with the horns and heavy bass, until Cetera comes in with the chorus, and the song has the classic ’80s Chicago sound. Another great combined effort of Cetera and Champlin.

Chains

This Peter Cetera song is one that can get stuck in your head.

Hard to Say I’m Sorry/Get Away

This is the song that put Chicago back on the map. It was a #1 hit for 2 weeks. It was their first top 50 hit since “No Tell Lover” in 1978. This is a great ballad. My favorite part of the song is the “Get Away” portion. The horn section just explodes. However, when this song got played on the radio, the stations would fade out the song at the end of the ballad section, and leave out the rockin’ part of the song. I can understand that happening at a dance. It would be kind of awkward slow dancing to a beautiful ballad, and then jumping right into fast paced music. But, there’s no excuse for radio! C’Mon now!! Are you guys with me?! Um, I better get off the soapbox for now before I really go off on a tangent, and talk about how annoyed I used to get when the DJ’s would talk over the music for the whole beginning of a song until the singer started singing, and then start yapping again at the end of the song after the singer finished singing, and the instruments would still be playing. So let’s get back to the music. After all, this is still one of my all-time favorite Chicago songs. First, here is the bastardized version, without the horn section, and then the real version, which is even better live:

Follow Me

The first song on side 2 was pretty good too. I love the horns and guitar in this, and Bill Champlin is great.

Sonny Think Twice

Another Bill Champlin song. I didn’t appreciate it too much in my younger days, but it has grown on me over the years.

What Can I Say

This is another song that I didn’t care for when I was younger. But, this Peter Cetera song has also grown on me. Back in the day, though, I used to skip over “Sonny Think Twice” and this song to get to the next 2 songs.

Rescue You

This was my favorite non-ballad song of the album. It’s a really good rock song with Peter Cetera on vocals.

Love Me Tomorrow

Another great Chicago ballad. It was the second song from this album released as a single and it reached #22 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. This is the last song on the album. It gave us much to look forward to from this legendary band throughout the ’80s and beyond.

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2 thoughts on “Albums of the ’80s: Chicago 16”

  1. A very good album, but Chicago 17 was so spectacularly awesome that this one gets forgotten sometimes. Thanks for a chance to re-focus on some great music.

    At least one of my local stations always plays Hard To Say I’m Sorry and Get Away together, so I haven’t been as annoyed as you have.

    1. Yeah, 17 had more hits on the radio, so there may have been more songs on 16 that people haven’t heard. I am still going to do 17 through 19. I love Chicago so much. Twenty 1 is one of my all-time favorite albums, but that one we released in ’91.

      I always get annoyed when radio stations mess with the music. That’s why I don’t listen to terrestrial radio anymore. I even hate it when words get bleeped out, even though it’s understandable.

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