One of the many requests taken on this blog (you can place yours in any comment) is CHICAGO's "Twenty 1", remastered, featuring a bonus track, and pressed on SHM-CD / Limited Release Mini-LP replica in Japan.
"Twenty 1" was Chicago's first album of the '90s, and their first commercial flop. Well, that's relative, because the record spent eleven weeks on the American Billboard 200, peaking at position No. 66, something many bands would have killed for.
I think the big problem was that in 1991 the musical climate was changing in the USA, and "Twenty 1" is a very melodic and ballad oriented record.
The album was produced & mixed by the great Ron Nevison - who already worked with the band and crafted several hits for Chicago providing an upbeat, lush sound - but as requested by the recording label, all the album was re-mixed by pop / West Coast guru Humberto Gatica.
Ron Nevison recalls; "Gatica took most the drums off, put in these soft samples — I mean, this is a fucking rock band. He took carefully nurtured songs and put stupid treatments on the vocals — like on 'You Come to My Senses', they’re swimming in all sorts of phasers and flangers. My God, I was shocked!"
Well, that's not entirely true... in my opinion, though I miss the some kind punchy '80s sound of Chicago previous efforts, "Twenty 1" is a very good album with some really good songs in it.
The pumping AOR of Jason Scheff's 'If It Were You', Jimmy Pankow / Scheff's 'God Save The Queen' (terrific guitar work here), and Bill Champlin's 'Who Do You Love' (recapturing Chicago's Eighties rocking style) are strong numbers from the Chicago catalog.
Also the monster ballad 'You Come To My Senses' - penned by AOR masters Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly (iTen) - is excellent too.
Another favorites are the ballad 'Chasing The Wind' (#13 on the "U.S. Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks" and #39 on the "Billboard Hot 100) - a classic Diane Warren-written tune - plenty of keyboards, great Champlin vocals, and an over-the-top squealing guitar solo by god Michael Landau, or the breezy melody of 'Somebody, Somewhere', an elegant midtempo in the best Tim Feehan style.
"Twenty 1" is an underrated Chicago album, criticized by many but a guilty pleasure for most of them. It's a more than enjoyable record to any AOR fan, with a gigantic production and excellent musicianship.
This Japanese remastered edition on SHM-CD sounds superb, including a bonus track.
Warner Music Japan ~ [WPCR-13791]
【SHM-CD】 シカゴ21 / シカゴ
01 - Explain It To My Heart
02 - If It Were You
03 - You Come To My Senses
04 - Somebody, Somewhere
05 - What Does It Take
06 - One From The Heart
07 - Chasin' The Wind
08 - God Save The Queen
09 - Man To Woman
10 - Only Time Can Heal The Wounded
11 - Who Do You Love
12 - Holdin' On
13 - Explain It To My Heart (Promo Single Version)
Bill Champlin – keyboards, lead & background vocals
Jason Scheff – bass, lead & background vocals
Tris Imboden – drums, percussion
Robert Lamm – keyboards, lead & background vocals
Dawayne Bailey – guitars, background vocals
Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Walter Parazaider – horns, background vocals
John Keane – drums
Robbie Buchanan – keyboards
Efrain Toro – keyboards
Tom Keane – keyboards, background vocals
Steve Porcaro – keyboard programming
David Foster – acoustic piano
Michael Landau – guitar
Stephen "Doc" Kupka – baritone sax
BUY IT !