Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago

Directed and edited by Peter Pardini, Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago is about the career of one of American music’s most popular and enduring bands from their groundbreaking blend of jazz, rock, and pop that made them big in the 1970s to becoming one of the most vital and popular touring acts for nearly thirty years. The film chronicles the many highs and lows the band went through from death of founding guitarist/vocalist Terry Kath in early 1978 to the many changes the band had to endure and keep up with trends. The result is a fun and adventurous film about one of the most popular bands in American music.

From their formation in the late 1960s to finally being inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2016, Chicago has been a band that has sold more than 100 million albums with a lot of hit singles from the 1970s and the 1980s. From the 1990s and into the 21st Century, they’ve become a popular live staple playing 100 shows a year as they continue to be vital despite line-up changes and such. Yet, at the heart of the group are its four remaining original members in vocalist/keyboardist Robert Lamm, trumpeter Lee Loughnane, trombonist James Pankow, and woodwind player Walter Parazaider. The four along with original drummer Danny Seraphine talk about the band’s history through the many trials and tribulations they endured as it began in 1967 in Chicago with those five men and a guitarist/vocalist in Terry Kath as they were part of an early version of the band but then changed its name at the time to the Chicago Transit Authority that included bassist/vocalist Peter Cetera.

The classic original lineup of Cetera, Kath, Lamm, Loughnane, Pankow, Parazaider, and Seraphine would create numerous hits starting with their 1969 eponymous debut album as they were guided by manager/producer James William Guercio who declined to be interviewed for the film along with Cetera and other former members in guitarist/vocalist Donnie Dacus and vocalist/keyboardist Bill Champlin. There are many stories the band talk about including the legendary story of Jimi Hendrix telling the band that Kath is a better guitarist than he is along with other events that happened on the road. Still, the band talk about the many different periods though not much is talked about the band from the 1990s and so on with the exception of the individuals who would be important to the band in the later years like bassist/vocalist Jason Scheff, drummer Tris Imboden, guitarist Keith Howland, and keyboardist Lou Pardini.

Director/editor Peter Pardini would use a lot of archival footage of the band through from the 1970s as it showcases their rise to stardom and such as well as the fact that these are guys who love to live their life on the road. Many of the interviews that are shot with the aid of cinematographer John Honore as well as some archival audio interviews provided by sound mixer Tim Jessup play into the band’s history. Especially the story about Kath’s death on January 23, 1978 of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head which happened just after the whole band dismissed Guerico over finances. Kath’s death remains something that haunts the band to this day yet they forge on in honor of him. The band also talks about the 80s which they admit they have mixed feelings about not just because in the change of sound under the eye of producer David Foster but also the loss of the band becoming a democratic unit where it’s a band into becoming a back-up band for Peter Cetera who would leave the group in 1985 for a solo career. It’s a situation that would later lead to Bill Champlin’s own departure in 2009 thinking he was the front man of the band.

Seraphine’s own departure from the group is included as it relates to not just his own frustrations of trying to keep up with current technology but also his focus on the business side of the band. Both Seraphine and the band admitted that the way they parted wasn’t in the best of terms though both were able to reconcile as Seraphine did get to play with the band for the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2016. It all plays into the many aspects of the band’s rich history as it is told by the band as well as longtime fan and actor Joe Mantegna who recalls moments of the band’s early history.

Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago is a sensational film from Peter Pardini. It’s a documentary film that chronicles the career of one of America’s great bands as well as emphasizing on what is more important about them which is their timeless music. In the end, Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago is a phenomenal film from Peter Pardini.

© thevoid99 2017


ruth said...

I really should watch this as my brother and I are a big fan of their music. In fact, my brother went to Peter Cetera's concert in Jakarta, he's still quite popular in Asia.

keith71_98 said...

I'm completely sold. Ready to look this one up.

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-It was on CNN on New Year's Day. I don't know when it will come back but it is worth watching if you're a fan.

@keith71_98-Check your listings on CNN as I recorded it on New Year's Day.

Unknown said...

It was indeed a very well presented documentary. Although not all the events are as I remember them happening. Seraphine's departure from the band is not quite as I remember.

thevoid99 said...

@Randy Ruth-There were some liberties relating to Seraphine's departure as there was material that didn't make it to the final cut as Seraphine admittedly didn't like how the film turned out and I don't really blame him. I kinda wished they cut out David Foster from the doc as he came off as a smug piece of shit. "Look at all those Grammys I won". I was like.... "Wow.... who fucking cares?!" What an asshole.