Friday, September 16, 2016

Episode 270: The History of Chicago

Episode 270: The History of Chicago
Filmmaker Peter Pardini joins Pat and Kyle to discuss his upcoming documentary "Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago." Many tunes will be played!
From September 15, 2016

With your host:

Pat Francis

00:00:00 Pat and Kyle welcome us to the show. It is yet another week that a special guest co-host is here in the studio. He's the director of the documentary Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago, it's Peter Pardini! Peter is the nephew of current Chicago keyboardist Lou Pardini, who joined the band in 2009 after the departure of Bill Champlain. When Lou joined, Peter tagged along as a young filmmaker, chronicling the band on tour.
00:05:00 Being around the band for a number of years was extremely helpful when the time came for Peter to do his documentary. While touring, Peter was on the bus with most of the band members, namely the non-original members (who themselves have been with the band for decades). They were all very accepting of Peter and his youthful ways.
00:10:00 Pat asks Peter about deciding to do the documentary about the band. Peter was frustrated that despite the band being around for 45 years, there is really not a lot of footage to play around with. Luckily, the footage they did find was in high resolution, and once the band was trusting of Peter's work, they gave Peter their personal collection of photos and videos. So there are plenty of pictures that have never been seen before by the general public. Now that Peter has all this stuff for the final product, he is very happy.
00:15:00 Peter showed the footage to the original Chicago members. Lee Loughnane was nervous about how personal the film is. But Peter wanted it to be personal and not too "back-patty." Pat commends all the members of Chicago for being incredibly humble and grateful all throughout the documentary. He was also bemused by Robert Lamm's comment that once Chicago is done, they will probably never see each other again. "But they're not gonna stop," says Peter. "It's like Picasso dying at 96, painting."
00:20:00 Pat and Peter discuss some aspects of Chicago, including their signature "rock and roll with horns" sound, their longtime original producer James William Guercio, and the album cover of Chicago XI: Chicago's Greatest Hits. When Pat met Lee at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, he got that album signed by a few members. Lee joked how he was quite drunk when they made the album cover.
00:25:00 Before we sing a mean tune kid and play some music, Pat runs down the original lineup of Chicago:
  • Terry Kath - lead guitar, vocals
  • Robert Lamm - keyboards, vocals
  • Peter Cetera - bass, vocals
  • Walter Parazaider - saxophone, flute, clarinet
  • Lee Loughnane - trumpet
  • James Pankow - trombone
  • Danny Seraphine - Drums
Looking at early pictures of the band, they looked like a bunch of hippie buddies. "Hipsters before there were hipsters," describes Peter. "All about the music," describes Pat. No concern for personal appearance, just auditory excellence.
Pat and Peter briefly discuss the band's iconic logo before diving into the first Chicago album, from 1969, back when they were called Chicago Transit Authority. Peter plays the song "Beginnings".
00:30:00 Pat picked "Beginnings" as well. CTA also features "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" "Questions 67 and 68" and "I'm a Man," three iconic songs for the band. Pat and Peter laud Terry Kath for his abilities as both a guitarist and a singer. CTA is the first of three consecutive double studio albums and it went double platinum.
00:35:00 After the first album, the band drops "Transit Authority" from their name and simply becomes Chicago. The second album is 1970's Chicago II (naturally) and Peter picks the opening track "Movin' In". Pat observes how multiple members of the band are great songwriters, and singles out James Pankow for his early works. Pat plays the Pankow-penned "Make Me Smile". Terry Kath, wailing away with gusto.
00:40:00 Chicago III is the third album (ARE YOU SENSING A PATTERN?) and was released in 1971. Pat plays "Free". Kath again on vocals. Chicago III is not as hits-heavy as the first two albums, mainly because the band was so tired after touring with Chicago II. They just made an album. Unfortunately, the record deal that the band signed gave Guercio 51% of the publishing, while the rest of the band had to split 49% 7 ways. It was Danny Seraphine that clued the band in about the concept of publishing rights and moolah.
1972 brings us Chicago V, their fourth studio album (I know, I know) and their first single disc album. Peter plays the song "Now That You've Gone", AGAIN with Kath on vocals.
00:45:00 Peter Cetera is starting to sing more and more lead vocals. He sings lead on Pat's next pick, the mega-hit "Saturday in the Park". Robert Lamm's voice is also front and center in the song. Pat commends Robert for having the best posture of the band. Full head of hair, still looks good. Vampire, perhaps? And yet, as good looking as Robert still is, he can still walk down the street without getting mobbed. It's the gift of being in Chicago: Everybody knows you, yet nobody knows you.
00:50:00 The next album, 1973's Chicago VI, is the first album to have a picture of the band on the front cover. Peter plays "What's This World Coming To". The two note how Chicago is a band that is super tight. They feed off each other's energy (great, so they're ALL vampires!) like no other. Pat plays one of the album's singles, "Just You 'n' Me", before playing the other single "Feelin' Stronger Every Day", both featuring Cetera on vocals.
00:55:00 With the band releasing an album a year, it's no wonder why they are the #1 selling band of the 70s. The band goes back to the double album format with 1974's Chicago VII. Much of it instrumentals, but also the standard Chicago hit singles. Robert picks the deep cut "Life Saver".
01:00:00 Lee Loughnane gets in on the songwriting game with Pat's next pick, "Call on Me", an autobiographical tale of Lee being on the road, then coming home and breaking up with his wife because they just grew apart. Walter Parazaider meanwhile has been married longer than the band has been together. "(I've Been) Searching So Long" and "Wishing You Were Here" are also on the album. Peter plays one more from Chicago VII, Peter's song "Happy Man".
01:05:00 The talk leads shortly to the troubles between Michael and Eddie, before going into Fair Warning. The first time Pat saw them on tour. Pat refutes the notion that Dave was never a good singer live because he sounded great. The guys are not big fans of the album cover. This Van Halen was a much different Van Halen, darker and heavier. Rob's first pick exemplifies this, "Mean Street". Holy jumping Jesus, that intro guitar solo.
01:05:00 Starting with Chicago VI, the band were recording their albums at Guercio's Caribou Ranch in Colorado. It was essentially a city in and of itself. The band could do whatever they wanted without anyone looking in. Booze, drugs, the blood of the innocent. You know, rocker stuff. 1975's Chicago VIII was one of those albums. Pat plays "Old Days". The first time Peter heard that song, it was in the movie version of Starsky and Hutch with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Peter's pick from the album is "Never Been in Love Before".
01:10:00 Around this time Laudir de Oliveira officially joins the band as a percussionist. The chocolate bar album, Chicago X, was released in 1976. The huge song off it is "If You Leave Me Now." Fun fact: Pat's wife Pilar considers that song the saddest song ever. Peter plays his pick "You Are on My Mind". Then he plays another song, the autobiographical "Scrapbook" about the history of the group up until that point.
01:15:00 Most of the original members of Chicago went to college together. Pat and Peter talk about Chicago's manager Peter Schivarelli (That is Peter #3 involved with the band, in case you were counting) and his no-nonsense ways. They also talk about how generous Chicago is with the staff that they work with.
01:20:00 We come to 1977's Chicago XI, which winds up being Terry Kath's last album. Pat's song is "Baby, What a Big Surprise". Terry was a gun enthusiast and was messing around with a gun that he thought was unloaded, but actually had one in the chamber. He had been putting other unloaded guns to his head and pulling the trigger; he just picked up the gun, put it to his head, and pulled, not knowing about that one extra bullet. Peter says that the silver lining through all this shit is that the other band members did not see it happen. If they had, that probably would have been the end of the band right there and then.
01:25:00 1978's Hot Streets was the first album without Terry, the first album James Guercio as the producer, and one of the few studio albums to not feature the name Chicago or a number in the title. Guercio is not interviewed in the documentary. Peter tried to get as many people interviewed for the documentary as possible, but ultimately Guercio and Peter Cetera refused. Pat doesn't understand why Cetera would refuse to be in it (and why he didn't want to be at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) because he's most known for being in Chicago. He had some solo hits, but people associate him the most with Cetera.
01:30:00 With Hot Streets, Donnie Dacus stepped into the role of lead guitarist. Pat plays the song "Alive Again". The album is certainly a turning point for the band; Terry is dead, people were expecting the old Chicago. Donnie was welcome with open arms, but was not with the band long. In the end, he wasn't Terry Kath.
01:35:00 Donnie did stick around long enough for Chicago 13 in 1979. Peter's pick is a song called "Reruns". Pat plays a song that features Donnie on lead vocals called "Must Have Been Crazy". Chicago 13 has significantly less Robert Lamm-centric stuff than previous albums.
01:40:00 Pat does pick a Robert Lamm song from the next album, Chicago XIV called "Manipulation". Chris Pinnick has joined the group as a session guitar player. Chicago XIV came out in 1980, and at that point Chicago was falling down the charts. The band needed a change, and they certainly got one when Columbia Records dropped them from the label. They sent them a fruit basket full of garlic and crosses and sent them on their way.
01:45:00 Off the band goes to Warner Bros., releasing Chicago 16 in 1982 with David Foster as producer. Bill Champlin joins the band as keyboardist, guitarist, and vocalist. Laudir is gone. Chris Pinnick is still on guitar, but still not an official band member. Pat is not as warm to this album as others; he finds it sounds a bit too dated. The album did bring the band back with "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" and "Love Me Tomorrow." Peter picks the song "Get Away". Robert Lamm does not sing anything lead on this album; it's all Cetera and Champlin. "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" went to #1, which was a godsend for the band. It was also a sign of things to come.
01:50:00 Chicago 17 is the biggie. Six-time platinum. The biggest selling album in the band's history. Four singles, all in the Top 20. Pat plays one of those singles, "Hard Habit to Break". At this point, Peter is ready to go. And why not? When all four singles have you as lead singer, why wouldn't you just go? Peter says that it needed to happen; Cetera didn't want to tour extensively for Chicago 17 and wanted to work on a solo album, tensions were forming between him and the rest of the band. So Cetera leaves the band.
01:55:00 Exit Cetera, enter Jason Scheff as the new bassist and vocalist for 1986's Chicago 18. Pat plays "Will You Still Love Me", sung by Scheff. The band is still churning out hit singles, but 18 does not sell nearly as many as 17.
Chicago 19 also produced some big hits, including their final #1 single, "Look Away", which Pat plays. Many outside writers on the album, typical of the 80s. Still very 80s-sounding with the heavy focus on the keyboards, again typical of the time. And it's the last album to feature Danny Seraphine on drums, replaced by Tris Imboden.
02:00:00 The band puts out Twenty 1, doesn't really make an impact. They put out Night & Day: Big Band, which was fun but also didn't do much. There was also the studio album Chicago XXXII: Stone of Sisyphus that came out in 2008, but the controversy about that album was that it was recorded in the early 90s. Warner Bros. rejected the album, which caused a whole big hubbub between the band and the label. Bootleg recordings circulated until the album was finally released after 14 years. But Pat decides to focus on Chicago XXX, which came out in 2006. He plays the song "Feel".
The most recent Chicago studio album is 2014's Chicago XXXVI: Now. Peter plays the title track "Now".
02:05:00 Pat and Peter talk about internet criticism and trolls. The current lineup is original members Robert, Walter, Lee, and James, along with Jason, Keith Howland on guitars, Tris, Lou Pardini, and Walfredo Reyes, Jr. on percussion. Pat plays a song that has Lou Pardini on lead vocals called "Nice Girl". Lou is Peter's uncle on his father's side, who is also named Peter. That is FOUR PETERS. Too many Peters in my book.
02:10:00 Peter's family is very close-knit. He remembers his uncle playing piano at family gatherings, and now the man is in the band Chicago. Peter pretty much has "the in" whenever the band is in town, although it sucks when everyone in Los Angeles comes out of the woodwork for a free ticket. The documentary has been to some festivals and won two of the festivals that they were shown. A DVD distribution deal is coming, but nothing public just yet. When Peter knows, we will know.
02:15:00 "Are people upset that this isn't about the city of Chicago?" jokes Kyle. A true story: At a screening in Sarasota, some people going in legitimately thought the documentary was about the city. And then when someone told them it was about the band, they sighed and left. "You mean this film doesn't talk about the Cubbies? Well, I never!"
Peter has a website, You can follow Chicago--the band, not the city--on Twitter @chicagotheband. Right there in the name, so you don't get confused.
Thanks to Peter for coming on the show and talking all about Chicago and his documentary. Make sure you keep an eye out for the film, which features man of a thousand talents, star of stage and screen, and Chicago mega-fan Jimmy Pardo. Pat takes us out with the essential Chicago song, "25 or 6 to 4" off of Chicago II.
Time Song Album Artist Who
00:25:00 Beginnings Chicago Transit Authority Chicago Peter
00:30:00 Movin’ In Chicago II Chicago Peter
00:35:00 Make Me Smile Chicago II Chicago Pat
00:40:00 Free Chicago III Chicago Pat
00:40:00 Now That You’ve Gone Chicago V Chicago Peter
00:45:00 Saturday in the Park Chicago V Chicago Pat
00:50:00 What’s This World Coming To Chicago VI Chicago Peter
00:50:00 Just You ’n’ Me Chicago VI Chicago Pat
00:50:00 Feeling Stronger Every Day Chicago VI Chicago Pat
00:55:00 Life Saver Chicago VII Chicago Peter
01:00:00 Call on Me Chicago VII Chicago Pat
01:00:00 Happy Man Chicago VII Chicago Peter
01:05:00 Old Days Chicago VIII Chicago Pat
01:05:00 Never Been in Love Before Chicago VIII Chicago Peter
01:10:00 You Are on My Mind Chicago X Chicago Peter
01:10:00 Scrapbook Chicago X Chicago Peter
01:20:00 Baby, What a Big Surprise Chicago XI Chicago Pat
01:30:00 Alive Again Hot Streets Chicago Pat
01:35:00 Reruns Chicago 13 Chicago Peter
01:35:00 Must Have Been Crazy Chicago 13 Chicago Pat
01:40:00 Manipulation Chicago XIV Chicago Pat
01:45:00 Get Away Chicago 16 Chicago Peter
01:50:00 Hard Habit to Break Chicago 17 Chicago Pat
01:55:00 Will You Still Love Me Chicago 18 Chicago Pat
01:55:00 Look Away Chicago 19 Chicago Pat
02:00:00 Feel Chicago XXX Chicago Pat
02:00:00 Now Chicago XXXVI: Now Chicago Peter
02:05:00 Nice Girl Chicago XXXVI: Now Chicago Pat
02:15:00 25 or 6 to 4 Chicago II Chicago Pat

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