Full Circle

California Transit Authority

Independent release, 2007


REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Out of all the musicians that played in the band Chicago during their reign at the top during the '70s, Danny Seraphine was the most underrated. Maybe among artists in the know he had some credibility, but how many people from the decade list Seraphine as one of the premier drummers of the decade?

Seraphine was ousted from Chicago at the start of the 1990s and since then has rarely been heard from. Aside from the occasional album production, Seraphine rarely entered back into the music scene. So, imagine my surprise to find a copy of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Full Circle on my desk a few weeks ago.

Excitement was certainly in the air, but so was trepidation, especially after glancing at the track list. Full Circle features nine covers of Chicago songs, songs that are some of the band's most popular. It’s always a risky proposition to cover such well-known material -- but in the end, the gamble pays off, for the most part.

These days, Chicago rarely flexes its muscles as a creative band, so to hear some of the best songs reinfused with a tremendous amount of energy and eagerness wins the day. For example, “Make Me Smile” is performed entirely as an instrumental, with guitarist Marc Bonilla providing the fireworks with some very impressive playing.

Sure, “Introduction” and “West Virginia Fantasies” may not resemble the horn rock of their original incarnations, but the different takes show that Seraphine and Co. were willing to take chances. It doesn’t always pan out; “Color My World” does not benefit being transformed into a Pink Floydian-esque number, and the aforementioned “West Virginia Fantasies” was never a wholly impressive number to begin with, so I don’t understand its inclusion save to lead into “Color My World.”

The non-Chicago tracks are decent, mostly consisting of covers of other artists’ material. “Something Different” provides an excellent demonstration of CTA’s talents and “Several Thousand” is quite soulful. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is a band that will be able to deliver a solid follow-up record, but as a one-shot album goes the approach is fine for now.

I will admit, I had a somewhat difficult time playing Full Circle the first few times through. These were songs that I grew up with from my first favorite band. However, Seraphine and his bandmates have insured that the legacy of Chicago remains intact through their music; these are just different approaches. It’s a shame Chicago doesn’t trot out these song themselves, so all the better reason for their original drummer to do it.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2007 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.