"This is a funny one. The first time I heard this, I was APPALLED. By 1979 I was sick & tired of the boring monotony of songs with disco beats--and to hear yet another of my favorite band stoop to doing a song with one, in this case, the lengthy "Street Player", was too much. I didn't play it again for another 6 months. After 2 years, however, it surprised me--I started to LIKE it! Once the "fad" had died, I noticed that the "regular" bands who'd decided to try their hands at it had actually done BETTER work than the full-time (and short-lived) "Disco bands". "Street Player" became one of my favorite Disco songs! And frankly, the rest of the album turned out to be far better than HOT STREETS-Donnie Dacus or not. (In photos, the guy just looked SO out-of-place--like a Peter Frampton "clone" amid musicians of an entirely different caliber.) Peter Cetera does more than his share of vocals this time out, yet none of his later trademark "sappy ballads" this time. Instead, upbeat mid-tempo rockers ("Mama Take", "Life Is What It Is" and "Run Away"--the latter would have made a cool single) and a song that sounds like it stepped out of a New Orleans Mardi Gras ("Aloha Mama"). On this and "Window Dreamin'" (Walter Parazaider & Lee Loughnane's contribution, probably the most offbeat rhythm on the album) Cetera warps his voice to become "P.C. Moblee"-whoever THAT'S supposed to be. And Robert Lamm's catchy "Reruns" talks of regrets following infidelity. All-in-all, I've enjoyed this more and more as the years go by-something I never expected. And being big into architecture, the skyscraper cover has long been one of my favorites by the group!"
Chicago's Second White Album
Gord o' The Books | SE Michigan | 06/19/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In Chicago 13, every member gets a writing credit. Phil Ramone implements a "democratic" approach to production, resulting in this buffet of 8 different styles on one album.
It took me 20 years to truly appreciate this album. I love to play and listen to it. But I give it 3-stars because these are supposed to be reviews that should help prospective buyers. I have seen, heard, and read reviews on this album ever since it came out, and I do not want to take a chance on somebody buying this and being disappointed.
One wonders what would have happened had Donnie Dacus stayed with the band. I saw them live at the time, and I think his inappropriate stage behavior was a main reason why he had to go. He seems to be finding his niche on this album, only to have it taken away. His in-your-face guitar solo, as the final cut "Runaway" fades, is an effective closure to his tenure with the band.
There are interesting and career-topping instrumental moments on this album, like Lee Loughnane's muted trumpet in Aloha Mama, and James Pankows trombone solo in Life Is What It Is. Man, how I'd love to give this 4-stars.
Nevertheless, I would only recommend that confirmed Chicago fans buy this CD. Or - - - if you are willing to sit down and listen to it, maybe 20 times, before making a judgment, then yes, buy it.
Oops! I forgot about "Closer To You" on the re-issue! This classic rock-jazz Chicago song features a cool Lee Loughnane solo. The addition of this song makes it a near ideal Chicago album, and raises it one star, (which I will do when the edit function allows me to do so!)"
Unlucky number for Chicago
Russell K. Simpson | 07/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Chicago has evolved - just like other groups. This particular album showcases where Chicago's respective mind was at in 1979. (Chicago 14 is another favorite of mine - before the David Foster influenced / Peter Cetera hogging the spotlight years.) 13 was an unlucky number for Chicago (as was 14, I guess) and they shouldn't have been. Some of their best work, in my opinion, can be heard on these two albums. As for Chicago 13, yes it is Chicago meets Disco, but only on some songs, not all of them. Personally, I think Chicago was meant to do disco and they do it well on this album. I mean, with the Chicago sound (those magnificent horns led by the wonderful Jimmy Pankow), disco never sounded better. The Chicago horns and the disco beat is a perfect blend. It works! However, this is not "Boogie, Oogie, Oogie" type disco, this is tremendous dance and horn music such as that offered by the equally talented Average White Band. So, I just don't get all of the bad reviews. Bands and artists do not want to put out carbon copies of the albums they just did before. That would be boring. Chicago 13 and 14 prove just how talented and versatile Chicago, as a group, really is. Another thing I like about this album is it spotlights the Chicago horn section, something that was lost in later Chicago efforts when David Foster took over and the horns served as backup to Cetera's ballads. This album is still a group effort. How anyone could not like the infectious "Street Player" which is over nine minutes of superb guitar work and horn playing is way beyond me!"
Hot and Cold
Slo Basting | Memphis, TN USA | 01/01/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Chicago 13 was the second album that was done with Donnie Dacus, the first of two guitarists the band tried before finding Bill Champlin. It comes after Hot Streets, an album which the band members didn't care for, yet which produced three singles that received good airplay.Chicago 13 demonstrates the band's ability to adapt its style to different music forms, in this case disco. It also demonstrates how the band's musical experience and expertise clashes with Dacus' immaturish guitar work and music writing. Besides these problems, his strained voice sounded like a second Cetera when the band needed a bass like the deceased Kath or the needed dynamic Champlin to develop the depth of music within its potential."Street Player" provides a upbeat jump into the disco realm, although Maynard Ferguson's unparallelled trumpet abilties can't quite masque the drawn out song."Mama Take" and "Must Have Been Crazy" provide examples of the differences between Dacus and the band's abilities. Both involve simple concepts: a few chords and solid beats. Yet Cetera in "Mama Take" employs guitar slides, crescendos, and the horns to make a great piece while Dacus only drives his song with cutsie lyric, absent horns and dynamics, into a dry piece which is not Chicago quality."Window Dreamin" represents a gem which reflects the underappreciated talents of Lee Loughnee as a song writer. The son uses horns, drive, and flare effectively. Even Cetera's ego, promoting his "P.C. Moblee" voice effects works in this piece."Paradise Alley" is a predictable dull tune where you keep waiting for an unexpected development to lift you from your slumber. The rescue never occurs and the piece dulls its way off into nonexistence."Aloha Mama" appears Chicago's answer to Cab Calloway in "Minne the Moocher", and it comes off very well. The muted trumpet and the wonderful drum work work well together. It's a highlight of the album.Lamm's "Reruns" uses a the music pattern to 25 or 6 to 4 as a voiced over bridge between chorus and verse. It has a good flare of the horns which hides the tune's simplicity."Loser with a Broken Heart" is a typical sappy Cetera ballet. No further comment."Life it was it is" represents a nice easy going tune which provides relief from some other the other weak efforts and prepares one for the CD's finale."Run Away" is James Pankow's song-writing career low-point. It's a simple song which unimaginative lyrics song by Dacus. What else needs to be said. Yet somehow it's appropriate for a closer. This album had elements of creativity yet seemed held back in a strong way. It's like a mediocare dish, with some tastes worth savoring, but leaving one feeling empty."
Chicago, in the Disco Age...
Russell K. Simpson | United States of America | 09/18/1998
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Although not on of Chicago's best recordings, this CD is a lot of fun! The brass ROCKS, and it's neat hearing Peter Cetera do disco! If you're a die hard Chicago fan, this CD is a must! If you love disco, you'll be amused, so buy it for the novilty. If you like the Chicago songs you hear on the radio, you might rather look at the new "Heart of Chicago" CD's instead!"