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Ron Fairbairn

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Chicago II

Chicago II ( Steven Wilson Remix )

Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix)

Play on Spotify

We wore the grooves out on this record. As far as the remix goes – it sounds great. Not that I could really give an audiophile’s critique. In those days we spun vinyl and now it’s mp3 through Bose earbuds.

But experiencing this album again has brought such wonderful memories back to life.

I love brass. There’s nothing like a tight horn section; Punctuation and articulation – helping to navigate  the ears through the zippy rush hour time changes and guiding us safely out the off ramps.

Chicago II came out in January 1970. I was in Grade 11 at Richmond High. I crammed in most of the tough courses into Grade 11 and so my friends, especially my musical friends, were very important and highly valued.

My friend Ron Smail lived just up the street, a few short minutes from the school. His family was musical. There was a piano in the front room and if someone wasn’t playing it, there was usually records being spun. We spent a lot of time  during “spares “, hanging out and listening to music. It was a magical time, and when I listen to this album again, I’m right back there again. There’s literally the exact same feeling going on inside.

We used to get into discussions about who was better – Chicago or Blood Sweat and Tears. There was no better through – just different.

Although Robert Lamm did the lion’s share of writing on this album, to me , Terry Kath was the driving force behind Chicago; his vocals and cutting edge guitar work gave the band an authentic edge. We never considered the music “progressive rock” – I don’t think the term was even used back then. The first album – self titled “Chicago Transit Authority “ was a blues rock based horn band. With Chicago (later to be called Chicago II in retrospect), there was a definite turn in direction to a more jazz rock style, often tying songs together in orchestral suites with seamless transitions. I was learning to play bass at the time and Peter Cetera was a bass god to me. Although I was never a pick player, I’m sure he was one of my main influences, and I loved his higher register background vocals.

Although there were “hits” that were pulled from this album, it was music made for music’s sake – by superb players that could pull it off while staying on the edge. “Make Me Smile”, “25 or 6 to 4”, and I can still remember watching Ron Smail play along with “Colour My World” – no mistakes. There was musical magic in the air. Other than transistor radios, we didn’t have portable music players and so hanging out and listening to music together was an event. “tell me you will stay, make me smile”

“but most of all we’d like to play a song or two to make you feel like all the good in you is real”

Bob Lefsetz wrote a great synopsis of the Steven Wilson Remix :

Steven Wilson’s Chicago

Semiahmoo Park in White Rock

Playing in Public Places

PLAYING IN PUBLIC PLACES

Sometimes I really question why I would stick my lone neck out and lay it on a public stage for people to watch me bleed. I mean it’s not like I do it for the money – that part has been well established. So why then?

Last weekend was our local White Rock Sea Festival and I accepted a gig to play a half hour set on Saturday and Sunday between 3:30 and 4:00pm.  I was “ The Transition Guy” that was to usher out the -families with kids “pirates in the park” -time and then do some chill vibe singer songwriter originals to set up the youth bands portion of the afternoon leading into the evening.

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The summer of 1970 (and my brush with John and Yoko)

The summer of 1970 (and my brush with John and Yoko)

This will take a while to get to the John and Yoko part, but it is an interesting set of events. It was the beginning of summer. I was 17 and had just finished grade 11 at Richmond High School, British Columbia, Canada. I had a friend who was an excellent drummer,whose name was Bruce Miller. He was going on a European tour with the Kitsilano Boys Band, and before he left, we talked about meeting up for a few days in London at the end of his tour. My father was an Air Canada employee and always encouraged me to actually use some of the passes he was entitled to, and so I told Bruce I would fly over on a certain date near the end of August and he said he would meet me at Heathrow Airport. And off he went to Europe. And I got a job working at Avis rent a car as a car jockey at the airport.

The end of summer came, and I headed to London. (more…)