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  • Writer's pictureReece Bithrey

Album Of The Week - Chicago - What's It Gonna Be, Santa?

(Picture Credit - Barnes & Noble)

Following up last week's crooning from Dean Martin comes something a little more groovy with Chicago's reissued 2003 Christmas record, What's It Gonna Be, Santa? .

Chicago offer a completely different take on some of your favourite Christmas classics on What's It Gonna Be, Santa? and over the course of a twenty-track album, are sure to get you into the festive spirit. Since it's such a long album, we'll pick its best bits and discuss those a little more.

Winter Wonderland gets the ball rolling, with the trademark horns in the background really setting the tone nicely, with Robert Lamm's vocal working brilliantly, as well as the backing vocals from the rest of the band. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! instead allows Jason Scheff to take lead vocals and it's fair to say he does a fantastic job. Once again, the horn sections add a bit of edge over other covers of this Christmas classic, and allow the song to flourish brilliantly.

Moving along a couple of songs, This Christmas does slow it down for something silky smooth. Admittedly, it's a properly soulful song that's only helped along by that light electric guitar and of course, the horn section. As one of the album's standouts, it's hard to look past how fantastic this track really is. The Christmas Song follows on another few songs down the line, in-keeping with the classic Chicago sound, making this iconic song their own. There's a bit more to it with this cover, especially with a higher tempo and that wonderfully rhythmic sound.

Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer covers another Christmas staple and allows the Nile Rodgers-like guitar to drive this great rendition forwards. Lamm's vocal is both passionate and soulful at the same time, working well with the backing to get the second half of this record off to a flying start. Sleigh Ride keeps spirits high, with bass notes becoming a little bit more prominent compared to the preceding tracks, and letting the horns take a bit more of a back seat. It's a welcome change and does add a lot to this already sterling record.

Christmas Time Is Here allows for something that resembles crooning in a way, especially given the slowed-down nature of the song. However, that doesn't make it any less brilliant. It acts as a nice balance to some of the up-tempo songs explored on the first half of What's It Gonna Be, Santa?, especially with the standout horns appearing once again and supplementing the song perfectly. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen is the legendary rock band's reimagining of one of the festive period's most traditional songs. With the usage of drum loop and neat little guitar riff, it allows Jason Scheff to explore what is one of the album's best vocals. The guitar solo that's also present does make for a nice addition and when used in conjunction with the horns, makes this the album's best song.

One Little Candle acts as the penultimate song from What's It Gonna Be, Santa? with a timeless message about love and light with the inclusion of a children's choir. Despite only being just over a minute long, it's one of the album's best additions, with the choir really hitting the message home delicately. White Christmas finishes off the album in the way it started, with another groovy rendition of a Christmas classic. There's plenty of depth in sound here that lets this particular song fly nicely and is guaranteed to get everyone smiling on Christmas morning.

What's It Gonna Be, Santa? really is an album to enjoy during this festive period. It reimagines some of your festive favourites in a way that only Chicago know how, complete with soulful vocals and a sumptuous horn section. It's one of the most timeless Christmas records you'll ever hear.

If you want to pick up a copy, I’ll leave an Amazon link here:

Or, if you’d prefer, here’s a Spotify link:

More merry musical magnificence to come next week!


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