Picks and Pans Review: Chicago 19

updated 09/05/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/05/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Chicago

Obviously this is a band that's inclined to longevity and possessed of a loyal following. This is the group's 19th album (but who's counting?), and Chicago is still mostly intact, still capable of punchy big-band rock arranging and still obsessed with overblown, overdramatized production numbers that raise the specter of A Night of a Thousand Manilows. There are some talented musicians in this band, and it would be nice once in a while to hear, for instance, trumpet player Lee Loughnane just playing quietly behind one of the lead singers—who are Bill Champlin, Robert Lamm and Jason Scheff these days. Instead, almost everything happens too fast and too hard. There are a few restrained moments—on What Kind of Man Would I Be?, for instance—but even the titles of such tracks as Victorious, I Stand Up and We Can Last Forever are predictors of Big Statement Pop Tunes. Listening to this record is like being cornered at a party by a stranger who insists on spilling out the details of his life story, including incidents involving adolescent skin problems and the time his dog was run over by a bus. Uh, really, well, that's too bad, excuse us, but we just saw someone come in who might be related to our next door neighbor's ophthalmologist. (Reprise)

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