Saturday, August 10, 2019

"25 or 6 to 4" by Chicago

Song#:  2856
Date:  09/06/1986
Debut:  81
Peak:  48
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Following Chicago's most successful studio album, 1984's Chicago 17, co-founder and main lead singer Peter Cetera took off for a solo career. The band needed to carry on so they hired in Jason Scheff as vocalist and bassist to replace Cetera. They then went back into the studio with producer David Foster for the third time and came out with the appropriately titled Chicago 18. In an unusual move, the band decided to do an updated version of one of their old hits, "25 or 6 to 4." It was then released as the LP's first single. The more modern take on the song got some attention, but it ended up stalling short of the Pop Top 40. It failed to chart at Rock and AC. The results could have easily sunk the album, but they got a second chance for a hit with their next single.

ReduxReview:  The original version of this song is easily my favorite from Chicago. It's a driving, urgent jam with an outstanding horn arrangement, great harmonies, nice guitar solo and a solid vocal from Peter Cetera. I remember hearing this as a kid and thinking it was such a cool song. It was perfection as-is, so why on earth did the band decided to remake this tune? I've often wondered if it was some kind of "we'll show him" thing against Cetera for leaving the band (as he was the lead singer on the original) and proving they can be Chicago without him. Or maybe they just though a modern 80s take on it would be fun. Whatever the reason, it wasn't one of their best ideas. The remake featured a slower tempo, loud thumping drums (and drum machines), synths, effects, a different horn arrangement, a screamy guitar solo, and a lead vocal from Scheff that sounded like a pale imitation of Cetera. It other words, it was a bombastic mess. At the time, I kind of liked it. It sounded like Foster was going for a larger Phil Collins-style production and I thought it was interesting. However, I hear it now and think that they pretty much desecrated their own classic hit. The remake was not a good idea and it shouldn't have been a single either. A big mistake all around.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  This song originally appeared on Chicago's second album, 1970's Chicago (also known as Chicago II), and it became their second Top 10 hit reaching #4. It helped drive the album to #4 and made it become their second gold album (eventually being certified platinum). In addition to being one of the band's most popular and recognizable hits, a Billboard magazine article in 2019 put this song at #1 on a list of the 50 Best Chicago Songs. It also became a popular tune at sporting events and has even been cited as the number one marching band songs of all time (I played it in marching band - it was a kick-ass tune to play). Originally written by band member Robert Lamm, the lyrics are about trying to write a song, which Lamm was doing on a sleepless night. The title refers to a point when Lamm looked at his watch and saw that it was 25 or 26 minutes to 4 o'clock in the morning.


No comments:

Post a Comment