Posted June, 2012
If you were into music at all back in the glorious days of the seventies, one band that no doubt found its way into the soundtrack of your youth was Chicago. Their music was an integral part of all the great music that radio stations across the land played day and night.
Many of those hits were written by one of the founding band members, Robert Lamm. Mr. Lamm still the iconic group on a very active and well received touring schedule much to the delight of fans – young and old alike.
Recently, those fans were turned on to an album of remixes of many of the songs written by Lamm – both from his Chicago work as well as his own solo work (you can read the Boomerocity review of that great CD here). The album is entitled, Robert Lamm Songs: The JVE Remixes and is a must-have for connoisseurs of excellent music of any genre but especially Chicago/Lamm music.
I was so enthused about that album that I asked for – and was fortunate enough to be granted – an opportunity to ask Mr. Lamm a few, short questions about the album.
In my work, I’ve interviewed enough artist/songwriters to know that, to them, their songs are like their own children. They never can pick a favorite (or, at least, will never openly admit to a favorite) and are very protective of their “children”. To that point, I asked Robert how hard was it for him to turn loose of his “babies” and let Van Eps have his way with them in the studio.
“John and I had worked with the idea of remixing a few songs from my The Bossa Project and actually included some on the CD. I was so impressed with his ideas on those that to do remixes of Chicago songs naturally occurred to both of us.”
Although Lamm entrusted his musical children with Van Eps, that’s not to say that he wasn’t involved in the remix project.
“My role was to listen to each approach and agree or suggest additional ideas, perhaps arrangement structure and always honing in on the beat loops. There were a few remixes that were false starts, but he is very creative and kept coming with different takes.”
With such a rich and full catalog of music that they had to choose from, I asked Lamm how the song selection was determined.
“I thought that the most popular RL songs from my Chicago work would be most compelling to listeners. The others I suggested to John from my 8 solo albums.”
One of my two most favorite songs of Lamm’s, 25 6 to 4, was remixed not once but twice. I was curious as to what was behind that decision and which of those two remixes was his favorite.
“The dance remix was the first remix try and I shelved it and asked for another arrangement, (Latin) which is my preferred remix of the 2. Most folks prefer the dance remix.”
Since he mentioned what the crowd’s favorite was, I asked Robert what their reaction has been thus far to the entire album. His answer didn’t surprise me at all.
“Most people are surprised that they enjoy it more than they thought they would.”
As a teen in the 70’s, I wasn’t a good dancer but still went to the school dances. There were two slow dance songs that everyone hoped would be played (and the usually were). Color My World was one of the two. If I didn’t dance but one dance at those events, it would always be to that song. I asked Lamm why that song didn’t make it to the album. His answer reminded me that the songwriting efforts in Chicago were – and are – truly collaborative in nature.
“This is album is Robert Lamm Songs: The JVE Remixes I did not compose Colour My World!”
In the area of remixing classic songs, sometimes the results can be less than favorable. I asked Robert if there were any songs that he was pleasantly surprised as to how they turned out as well as any songs that he thought would be shoo-ins but discovered that they didn’t work after they were remixed.
“I love both of the remixes from my Subtlety & Passion album, You’re My Sunshine Every Day’ and It’s a Groove, This Life. They are both so very beautiful.
“There were other songs besides On the Equinox from the new solo album, Living Proof that I wanted for this album, but were already sort of Electronica sonically and musically, that John felt would be difficult further remix.”
Because of the tremendous technology and incredible wizardry that’s involved in the remixing of music, I was naturally curious if this project affected Lamm’s approach to music, songwriting and performing.
“I have become more comfortable with some of the ‘plug-in’ software we used, so that I have begun using this software in my composing of new work for Chicago and another solo project with Mr. Van Eps, an Electro Bossa Album.”
My final question was a two-parter: Will there be a sequel to the remix album and do he and Van Eps plan to work together again.
“Never say Never. Another solo project with Mr. Van Eps, an Electro Bossa album. The first Bossa Project was organic, but I want to combine Brazilian feel with modern grooves.”
One thing is for certain: Whatever Robert Lamm sets his hands and mind to, will undoubtedly turn into many enjoyable hours of listening pleasure and Boomerocity certainly looks forward to hearing it.