Chicago and Peter Cetera's 10 greatest songs ever, ranked

30 December 2021, 16:11

Chicago in 1982
Chicago in 1982. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

Chicago are one of the most fascinating bands of the last five decades.

Starting life in the 1960s as a politically charged and experimental rock band, they later moved to a totally different and softer sound, known for their power ballads alongside the soaring voice of Peter Cetera.

They have sold over 40 million albums in the US alone, and have released over 35 albums over the years. But these are our absolute favourite songs by them:

  1. Look Away

    Released in 1988, this ended up being Chicago's best-selling single and topped the US charts.

    It proved to be their biggest hit since lead singer Peter Cetera left the band.

  2. Does Anybody Really Know What Time it is?

    This jazz fusion track appeared on Chicago's very first album back in 1969.

    Songwriter Robert Lamm said of the song: "[It's] not a complicated song, but it’s certainly a quirky song. But that was my intent.

    "I wanted to write something that wasn’t ordinary, that wasn’t blues-based, that didn’t have ice cream changes, and would allow the horns to shine and give Lee Loughnane a solo. So all that was the intent."

  3. 25 or 6 to 4

    One of their earliest songs, it was released in 1970, and reached the top 10 in both the US and UK.

    Writer Robert Lamm said that it is about trying to write a song in the middle of the night. The song's title is the time at which the song is set: 25 or 26 minutes before 4am. Over the years, it has been incorrectly speculated to be a reference to drugs.

  4. The Next Time I Fall (with Amy Grant)

    Peter Cetera teamed up with Amy Grant for this fantastic solo duet, giving him a number one single in the States.

    The song was originally intended for Chicago, with co-writer Bobby Caldwell saying: "We had his voice in mind, but Paul and I were unaware that he was leaving Chicago at that time, and when we heard the news our hopes were dashed.

    "However, a short time later, I got a call at home from Cetera himself who stumbled upon our demo cassette tape of the song in producer/arranger David Foster's office. He loved the tune and wanted to record it as a duet."

  5. Street Player

    This funk track from 1979 was originally recorded by singer Rufus, before Chicago released their own version.

    It would later be heavily sampled in the 1995 dance hit single 'The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)' by The Bucketheads.

  6. You're the Inspiration

    Released in 1984, this song gave Chicago a top 3 hit in the States, but only reached 14 in the UK.

    Cetera later revealed the song was originally intended for Kenny Rogers, but he eventually passed on it, so he took it for Chicago instead.

  7. Hard Habit to Break

    This song sees the singer realise that they've been taking their partner for granted for years, and want to make up for it.

    In an intriguing move, it uses two very different voices from the band: Peter Cetera sings most of the verses, while Bill Champlin provides the chorus ("I'm addicted to you baby!").

  8. Glory of Love

    This Peter Cetera solo track was co-written with longtime Chicago collaborator David Foster.

    It was written for the soundtrack to The Karate Kid II, and was a huge hit - reaching number one in the States.

  9. If You Leave Me Now

    This was the song that brought Chicago to a truly mainstream audience, reaching the top spot in the UK and US in 1976.

    It remains one of the best break-up ballads of all time, and surprisingly doesn't actually contain a traditional chorus.

  10. Hard to Say I'm Sorry

    This 1982 power ballad was a number one hit in the US, and reached the top five in the UK. It actually features three members of Toto, including Steve Lukather on guitar and David Paich and Steve Porcaro on synthesizers.

    The full-length version is over five minutes long and segues into an upbeat song called 'Get Away'.