Chicago Christmas -- released today -- is the legendary band's 37th album. But it's one they didn't plan to record.
Founding member Lee Loughnane says producer Peter Schivarelli suggested the guys cut a couple of Christmas songs as bonus tracks for a reissue of the band's three previous holiday collections. But the two "newies" soon grew to nearly a dozen.
Loughnanerecalled the conversation that led to the Chicago Christmas album:
"This one started out with Peter Schivarelli calling me and asking me if we could maybe put together a couple of bonus tracks for a Chicago... previous Christmas records. So, they were interested in modernizing it a little bit. And when I asked the guys, they came in with 13 songs and we recorded 11 of 'em. I mean, the writing and playing has just been phenomenal and I happened to be there for all of the sessions. So I became the defacto producer."
The 11 songs are a mix of old and new. Chicago put their stamp on the holiday classic "Sleigh Ride," with nods to The Ronettes' version as well as composer Leroy Anderson's 1950s original. They adapted "What the World Needs Now" for the season. Loughnane is also excited by the new songs -- one of which was written by a recent arrival in the band.
Lee Loughnane points out a couple of standout originals on Chicago Christmas:
"Probably, 'All Over the World,' which was written by our new singer from Canada, Neil Donnell. The other one was 'Here We Come A' Caroling,' a Latin-flavored Christas carol that was actually written back in 1850 or something [as] a folk song."
While Chicago won't be doing a Christmas tour this year, Lee says they're planning holiday-themed shows in 2020.
They're also planning a summer tour with a high-profile partner.