Monday, July 6, 2020

"Niagara Falls" by Chicago

Song#:  3186
Date:  07/11/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  91
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  The band's Chicago 18 album got off to a shaky start, but then two power ballad singles made the Pop Top 20 with "Will You Still Love Me" making it to #3 (#2 AC). It seemed that audiences liked to tune in to the band's now-signature power ballads while ignoring their upbeat tracks and that trend continued with this fourth single from the album. This mid-tempo album opener tanked early on and quickly dropped off the chart. It even failed to make the AC chart. Still, by this point the album had reached platinum level sales thanks to the previous two hits. While that was definitely good news and demonstrated that Chicago could survive without lead singer/songwriter Peter Cetera, it was a sharp drop from their six-million selling previous album.

ReduxReview:  I think the band should have thrown in the towel on the album after the third single, but I'm sure their label wanted to see if they could eke out some more album sales and chose to push this track out. It was a mistake. The song was an interesting album opener that had a strained chorus, an oddball center section, and some weird production/arrangement touches going on, yet it was something that should have never even been considered for a single. There was just no way this was going to be a hit. It was too messy and had zero pop radio appeal. Between this and the LP's first single ("25 or 6 to 4"), Chicago was definitely having issues. Luckily, they still were able to pull a couple of hits from the album, but overall it wasn't pretty.

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  Keyboardist Robert Lamm was a founding member of Chicago and wrote several of their hits and took a turn at lead vocals on a few of their earlier tracks. Lamm was still writing the occasional tune for the band during their 80s hit making years and two of his newer tunes showed up on Chicago 18. He also co-wrote a third track titled "When Will the World Be Like Lovers?" The song was recorded by the band, but in the end it was left off of the album. In 1993, Lamm would re-record the tune for his 1995 solo album Life Is Good in My Neighborhood. It was Lamm's second solo effort. His first one came in 1974 with Skinny Boy. He would record the occasional solo album while retaining his position in Chicago. None of his album would reach the Pop chart, but in 2008 his album The Bossa Project did get to #47 on the Jazz chart. The Chicago version of "When Will the World" was never officially released on any of their albums, but it has shown up online (and frankly, it would have made a far better single than "Niagara Falls," so kind of a poor choice to keep it off the LP).


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