Saturday, May 10, 2014

On Jimmy Pankow, pushing limits and a new Chicago album. Yes, really.

I'm an atheist by trade, but allow me to say: God Bless Jimmy Pankow, who co-wrote "God Save the Queen."

Pankow is the trombone player from the pop group Chicago, which is 47 years old in 2014 and still includes Pankow and other original members Walt Parazaider (reeds), Lee Loughnane (trumpet) and Robert Lamm (keyboards, vocals and songwriting).

Yes, I'm an unrepentant fan, even when the group annoys me, so it's sheer love that compels me to make these remarks.

I commend Pankow because he's the ultimate team player/positive thinker/propagandist, and he has performed this carnival barker's role from the very start. No matter how wretched and uncertain the times, he'll still tout the latest product with no apparent loss of swagger.

I'll never forget Pankow's earnest PR spin for Chicago 13, a veritable cur of a record cut during the band's 1979 - 1982 post-Terry Kath "deep wilderness period," which he praised as rocking and balls-out. In fact, the balls in question had rolled down to the ditch at the foot of the driveway, and the band at the time was utterly lost, but it didn't diminish the intensity of Pankow's hard sell.

In what must be considered a surprise, this summer the band will release its first album of original material since 2006 (before that, there had not been an album of new songs since 1991, although there was the Stone of Sisyphus ... and I won't bore you with that story). As ever, Pankow is eager to discuss Now, as in this excerpt from an interview with a newspaper in Ohio.

Who knows? It may be interesting.

CHICAGO COMES TO HARD ROCK ROCKSINO, by Kelly Maile (Record-Courier)

 ... "It's not only busy, it's busier than ever," said original band member Jimmy Pankow. "It's gotten to the point where the music has become a phenomenon" ...

 ... "The adrenaline gets pumping," Pankow said. "The people get nuts. The show we're doing is probably the best show we've ever done in terms of pacing, in terms of capturing the body of music of all these years. We start the show with the first album and we include selections from our new album."

Chicago's new record, "Now," Chicago XXXVI, is set to release on July 4. The album includes 11 brand new songs, recorded on the road ...

 ... "We have some very exploratory stuff and music that is traditionally Chicago," Pankow said. "We have the signature horns and the identity that the music has always had, but we also have the fun of taking it places that was not possible before. The music is very daring in some ways. It is where we are now" ...

 ... "This new technology has allowed us to be extremely mobile," Pankow said. "The music is reported by us as we travel, as we get inspired. We can record in hotel rooms, on the bus, in the venue. We don't have to, like the old days, assemble in a traditional recording studio and track new songs and go through the protocol. We are now free to do whatever we want. We can push the limits."

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