Picks and Pans Review: Solitude/solitaire

updated 08/11/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/11/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Peter Cetera

Nobody should be more aware of what it takes to turn out a hit song than Peter Cetera. A 19-year veteran of Chicago, Cetera was one of the group's lead vocalists, and as a composer has contributed at least seven Top 10 tunes to Chicago's 17 multimillion-selling LPs. The 41-year-old bassist's highest charting compositions have always been his allegretto love ballads: If You Leave Me Now, Where Do We Go From Here and Baby, What a Big Surprise, to name a few. Some were lushly orchestrated, with full string sections, intricate horn arrangements and ethereal backup harmonies. Others relied on simple acoustic guitar or piano accompaniment. All created an ideal complement to Cetera's soaring, mellifluous voice. It is hardly surprising then that the most inspired songs on Solitude/Solitaire are drawn from the same emotional well. The album's current hit, for instance, is the romantic Glory of Love, the theme from The Karate Kid Part II. It was co-written with Cetera's wife, Diane Nini. But elsewhere on the LP it seems Pete is trying to break out of his old persona and develop a more lively '80s sound. In doing so he has exchanged a workable formula for one that doesn't do him justice. Six of the nine cuts on this LP are run-of-the-mill synth-pop pap. Queen of the Masquerade Ball, Big Mistake and Wake Up to Love sound as if they were recorded by a graduate of the Phil Collins Correspondence School of Hitmaking. They are characterized by robotic drum-machine programming, occasional dramatic pauses (like Collins' in Don't Lose My Number) and an absence of noteworthy instrumental solos. Cetera's usually expressive vocals are entombed in electronic rigmarole. This LP, like many others on the charts now, is a computer programmer's dream, a music lover's nightmare. (Warner Bros.)

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