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Interview:
Chicago keyboardist's solo album is only the beginning
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

After 45 years there's a certain reverence for Chicago and the 22 studio albums the group has created. But singer-keyboardist Robert Lamm, one of Chicago's co-founders, would rather be a little irreverent with the repertoire.

Lamm has released a solo album called "Songs: The JVE Remixes," working with electronic artist John Van Epps to create radical revisions of Chicago favorites such as "Beginnings," "Saturday in the Park," "25 or 6 to 4" and others.

"Over the last at least 10 years I've been drawn more and more to electronic music and music that's put together by single guys or two guys together rather than a band," explains Lamm, 67. "Getting together with John, he said, 'Why don't we just do an album of remixes of your songs -- in this case it was some of my earlier work in Chicago, which are probably the most recognizable bits on the album.

"And we said, 'Let's make it something as different as we possibly can' and not worry about what the songs sound like or how people know them."

Lamm says the overall experiment was "a blast." He knows the album won't necessarily appeal to the standard issue Chicago fan, however, and he acknowledges that there's some split opinions even within the group itself.

"When I played it for (horn players) Jimmy (Pankow), Walt (Parazaider) and Lee (Loughnane), they didn't get it. They just don't listen to a lot of newer stuff," Lamm says. "But most of the guys in the band and in the rhythm section of, which I am a member, are at least a decade or more younger than the original guys and listen to more contemporary stuff, and they totally got it.

"For me it's all about exploring and learning how to do something new. I would like to take another stab at it -- not necessarily with previously written songs but to actually sit in the studio with John Van Epps or someone else and start from the ground up. I think that would be the next logical step for me in this music."

Chicago and the Doobie Brothers perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $36-$56 pavilion and $28 lawn with a $64 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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