Although Chicago tragically marked its decade anniversary with the bitter loss of lead guitarist Terry Kath, Hot Streets (1978) was not only the first release without him, it was also the band's initial offering away from James William Guercio -- with whom the group had worked on every one of its previous dozen long-players. Donnie Dacus (guitar/vocals) was brought in to fill Kath's formidable shoes. His maiden voyage would likewise mark the beginning of a downward spiral in terms of the string of hits that was usually associated with Chicago albums. Both the upbeat and pumping opener "Alive Again" and the typical adult contemporary balladry of "No Tell Lover" became their last Top 40 hits for nearly four years. Phil Ramone's production gives the material an added and noticeable bite. The Peter Cetera (bass/vocals) rocker "Little Miss Lovin" recalls the band's earliest sides by blending an aggressive backbeat with a funky and soulful rhythm. "Gone, Long, Gone," the disc's other Cetera contribution, also stands out for Dacus' spot-on slide guitar intonation, which mimics a similar style used most notably by George Harrison. Although it failed to chart when extracted as a single, Robert Lamm's (keyboards/vocals) "Love Was New" is one of the more jazz-influenced tunes on Hot Streets. The laid-back groove effortlessly carries the melody behind a fusion of light rock and contemporary jazz. The rapidly changing pop music landscape, whose horizons would embrace disco and new wave, would all but abandon Chicago for the group's next few albums. Although the band attempted to adapt to the trends, it would be four LPs and four years before Chicago would re-emerge in full form on its comeback, Chicago 16 (1982).
Hot Streets Review
by Lindsay Planer