Columbia PC 34200
Released: June 1976
Chart Peak: #3
Weeks Charted: 44
Certified 2x Platinum: 11/21/86
The music on X scarcely departs from the formulas that have made Chicago synonymous with mass-market rock. More than any other band, Chicago mirrors and affirms the American technological ideal. The brawling crudeness of Chicago's harder horn-based rock reflects American car culture by giving musical shape to the sound frequency of urban rush-hour traffic. Whether or not consciously intended, "Another Rainy Day in New York City," with its imitation of Puerto Rican dialect set against a steel drum, also works as accurately imitative urban "environmental" music.
If Chicago's cement-mixer energy recalls Carl Sandburg's sentimental paean to the second city, the anonymity of its members emblematizes individual self-sacrifice for larger democratic/technological goals. For Sandburg's poem was written at a time when hardly anyone questioned the value of heavy industry. Thus, ironically, while Chicago boasts one of the most immediately identifiable sounds of any rock band, the sound itself, wafted on mostly elemental tunes and cretinously "up" lyrics, puts the stamp of approval on everything impersonal and mass-produced in American life.
- Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 8/12/76.
This collection of torpid songs and performances sounds almost precisely like Chicago's last album -- which, in turn, sounded dismayingly like all of their albums before that. Just how long the public intends to keep on buying the same mild-mannered Muzak rock, release after release, is even more a puzzle than why Chicago keeps on recording it. Chicago has found the boredom immensely profitable. What's the public's excuse?
- Peter Reilly, Stereo Review, 11/76.
Continuation of the series of topnotch efforts from this premiere rock band. Material is nicely varied for airplay, and a switch from group vocals to lead singing keeps the pace moving. Producer Jimmy Guercio leaves his stamp as usual. At times, though, one could wish for more lyrical impact and a lessening of heavy bass lines. On certain cuts, you almost get the feeling that the group is looking to break away from the formula sound that has proved so successful for them to date. Best cuts: "You Are On My Mind," "Skin Tight," "Hope For Love," "Gently I'll Wake You," "Scrapbook," "Mama Mama."
- Billboard, 1976.
It was here that Chicago began to turn toward "power" ballads, but only because it was scoring only modest hits with such more eclectic material as Robert Lamm's "Another Rainy Day In New York City" and John Pankow's "You Are On My Mind," while Peter Cetera's "If You Leave Me Now" topped the charts, went gold, and won Grammy Awards for arrangement and vocal performance. * *
- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
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