Chicago VIII is the seventh studio album, and eighth album overall, by American rock band Chicago, released in 1975. Following the experimental jazz/pop stylings of Chicago VII, the band returned to a more streamlined sound on this follow-up.
After five consecutive years of constant activity, the members of Chicago were feeling drained as they came to record Chicago VIII at producer James William Guercio’s Caribou Ranch in Colorado in the summer of 1974. While the variety in styles explored on Chicago VIII were reminiscent of Chicago VI, this particular album had a more distinct rock feel, as exemplified on Peter Cetera’s “Anyway You Want” (later covered by Canadian singer Charity Brown) and “Hideaway”, as well as Terry Kath’s Hendrix tribute “Oh, Thank You Great Spirit” and James Pankow’s hit “Old Days” (#5). The ballad “Brand New Love Affair, Part I & II” charted at #61.
Preceded by Lamm’s nostalgic “Harry Truman” (#13) as lead single, Chicago VIII was held over for release until March 1975 as Chicago VII was still riding high in the charts. While it easily reached #1 in the US, the album had a lukewarm critical reception — still commonly considered, by some, as one of their weakest albums from the original lineup, resulting in the briefest chart stay of any Chicago album thus far. It was also the first album to feature session percussionist Laudir de Oliveira as a full-fledged band member rather than merely a sideman, the first addition to the original lineup.
Inside the original LP package was an iron-on t-shirt decal of the album cover and a poster of the band in a station wagon being pulled over by a policeman.
This album was mixed and released in both stereo and quadraphonic. In 2002, Chicago VIII was remastered and reissued by Rhino Records with two unreleased songs: “Sixth Sense” (an instrumental, or possibly a backing track) by Kath and “Bright Eyes” by Lamm, as well as a version of “Satin Doll” recorded for a Dick Clark’s “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” special – all as bonus tracks. (by wikipedia)
Road-weary and running low on steam, the members of Chicago began tinkering with their formula on the nostalgic Chicago VIII. Robert Lamm continued to loosen his grip on the songwriting, allowing Peter Cetera, Terry Kath, and James Pankow to pen the majority of the album. The enthusiasm and drive that the band had displayed on their previous efforts was audibly escaping them, best exemplified by the lazy drawl that Cetera affects on his otherwise rocking “Anyway You Want.” Finally, the jazz tinges continued to appear less and less, replaced by a brassy R&B approach that provides a more rigid structure for their tunes. But these factors don’t necessarily count against the band, as many songs have a lazy, late-afternoon feel that provides a few feel-good moments. Pankow’s “Brand New Love Affair — Part I & II” is a smooth, light rock ballad that Terry Kath wraps his soulful voice around, transforming it into a brooding lament on lost love. This track also begins to incorporate the multi-vocalist approach that would become the trademark of their ’80s work, as the second half of the song is sung by Cetera and Lamm as well. Kath’s “Oh, Thank You Great Spirit” is another winner, as his delicate vocals drift along on a sparse and psychedelic (for Chicago at least) sea of guitars. Pankow’s “Old Days” may be the only other notable track, a powerful rocker that showcases his tight compositional skills and provided the band with the only memorable hit song from the record. Lamm’s contributions are the least-commercial songs, as his arty and dynamic tracks are nostalgic entries that show him moving in an atypical direction lyrically and musically. Only his “Harry Truman” really connects, and the instrumental tributes to Depression-era jazz and the goofy singalong ending manage to render the song silly before it can really sink in. Although not terrible by any means, Chicago VIII is heavily burdened by their obvious desire to take a break. The band hits upon some wonderful ideas here, but they are simply too weary to follow them up, and the resulting album has none of the tight orchestration that reigns in their more ridiculous tendencies. (by Bradley Torreano)
Oh no, no … this is a pretty good album by Chicago … listen to “Oh, Thank You Great Spirit” or “Hideaway” and you´ll know, what I mean.
Peter Cetera (bass, vocals)
Terry Kath (guitar, vocals)
Robert Lamm (keyboards, vocals)
Lee Loughnane (trumpet, background vocals)
Laudir de Oliveira (percussion, background vocals)
Walter Parazaider (saxophones, flute, clarinet, background vocals)
James Pankow (trombone, background vocals)
Danny Seraphine (drums)
background vocals on 06.:
John Carsello – Donna Conroy – Bob Eberhardt – Steve Fagin – Kristy Ferguson – Linda Greene – Brandy Maitland – Katherine Ogden – Joanne Rocconi – Richard Torres – Angele Warner
01. Anyway You Want (Cetera) 3.39
02. Brand New Love Affair, Part I & II (Pankow) 4.28
03. Never Been in Love Before (Lamm) 4.10
04. Hideaway (Cetera) 4.44
05. Till We Meet Again (Kath) 2.03
06. Harry Truman (Lamm) 3.00
07. Oh, Thank You Great Spirit (Kath) 7.19
08. Long Time No See (Lamm) 2.47
09. Ain’t It Blue? (Lamm) 3.29
10. Old Days (Pankow) 3.32