Friday, August 31, 2012

Fat Friday Feature: Peter Cetera On Chicago's "Make Me Smile"

"Fat Friday Feature" is a regular feature that showcases bad ass bass players/bass parts.  

It's been a while since there's been a "Fat Friday Feature", so let's start off with a controversial choice:  Peter Cetera.  That's right:  Peter fuckin' Cetera.  The motherfucker whose music plagued my junior high years.  Peter "Karate Kid" Cetera.  I could not escape his music as a child either. There was always a radio on in our house, and Chicago was all over it.  And one of the family favorite 8-track tapes - a compilation of music that you got when you bought a new Oldsmobile - had "Make Me Smile" on it, so I heard that tune in particular with great frequency.

But open your mind and let the bass in.  It's pretty damn good.  If you've read even a couple "Fat Friday Features", you know of my fondness for aggressive playing (particularly when the guitar player is soloing), and that's here in abundance.  A part of me wants to believe that a d-bag ballad singer like Cetera can't play bass that well.  I looked for live versions of this tune on You Tube; and sure enough, not only is it there with Cetera playing/singing harmonies, but he's playing it even faster than the LP version.*  So listen closely and I think you'll come to my point of view - Peter Cetera can play a damn bass.  Don't let haters tell you otherwise.  To put it another way:  Peter, I am a man who will fight for your honor.

* - Ultimately, I opted out of any live versions I found on You Tube because as great as Peter Cetera's playing may have been, Terry Kath's vocals always overshadowed everything else.  That guy could sing.


  1. Terry Kath was also an occasionally badass guitar player. The first Chicago album, CTA, is actually a lot different than the adult alternative crap they've become mainly known for. In retrospect, their songs are actually not so bad, "Make Me Smile" being a prime example.

    1. Kath's solo in "Make Me Smile" is actually smokin' in my estimation. So he's pretty under rated as both a guitarist AND a vocalist. I always thought he and Al Kooper were among two coolest vocalists of the 1970s.

  2. Chicago's first lineup had Kath on bass and Cetera on guitar.
    When vocal chores started lining up, Cetera had Kath take the guitar chair.
    One of the original 2 keyboard players of CTA was an assist-prof at Ohio State and would tell us stories of the band.
    He would have Lamm come down to Columbus and give master classes in modern harmonic theory; very, very, cool.

  3. that IS very cool, actually. And I didn't know that Cetera started out in Chicago on guitar. Good stuff - thanks for sounding off!