Robert Lamm

In My Head

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Though Robert Lamm's second solo album, Life Is Good in My Neighborhood, was released in 1995, 21 years after his first, it sounded like it might have been made as much as a decade earlier, implying either that Lamm was out of touch with current musical trends or that he'd been working on it for a long time. But his third album, In My Head, following a mere four years later, sounded much more contemporary. In fact, the tracks assembled by producer John Van Eps, with their occasional hip-hop and trip-hop rhythms, sometimes suggested that the listener was about to hear from a current rap act rather than a pop/rock veteran in his mid-fifties. But from the opening song, the philosophical "Will People Ever Change?," it was clear that this was the same singer/songwriter who had sung "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" in his butterscotch voice three decades before. Chicago, the band he co-founded and to which he remained faithful, hadn't released a new album since 1991, and that seemed to be enough time for him to come up with an album's worth of excellent material, including "Sacha," a lovely ballad of parental love; "The Best Thing" and "Swept Away," romantic duets with Phoebe Snow; and several songs that pondered the meaning of existence and the state of society. Best of all was the one song Lamm didn't write, "Watching the Time Go By." Written by Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys and Gerry Beckley of America (like Lamm, two longtime bandmembers), the song reflected autobiographically on the passage of time, echoing John Lennon's "Watching the Wheels." Though, as usual, there were no indications that Lamm was about to leave Chicago, In My Head suggested for the first time that he had rediscovered the songwriting talent that launched that group and was using it to examine his times as trenchantly as he had in the '60s and '70s. "You know I've still got the passion, " he sang in the catchy "The Love of My Life," and the album bore him out.

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