Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time


[Welcome to Thirty Year Thursday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1986, which now shifts to the releases I didn’t discover until after 1986]


Peter Cetera - Solitude/SolitaireNot that it was really necessary, but I already defended my love of Peter Cetera’s solo career in last year’s No Guilt, Just Pleasure post. While a lot of people are dismissive of the ballads & soft rock hits he recorded with Chicago and as a solo artist, I enjoy them just as much as Chicago’s more groundbreaking earlier work. Sure, some of the songs are schmaltzy & sappy, but I could listen to that distinctive tenor sing just about anything and always end up with a smile on my face. He released his self-titled debut solo album in 1981 during a lull in Chicago’s career, when the hits had dried up and their future was uncertain. It’s a very good and underrated record but, other than one Mainstream Rock radio hit, it was a commercial disappointment. A year later, with a streamlined sound thanks to producer David Foster, the band resurrected their career with the multi-platinum Chicago 16, and followed that up in 1984 with the even more successful Chicago 17. Thanks to six hit singles from those albums, all of them featuring Cetera’s one-of-a-kind vocals, they were on top of the world again…until personality conflicts led to Cetera’s departure. He wasted no time in re-launching his solo career with Solitude/Solitaire, continuing the hit parade of the previous few years.

This album is best known for the two #1 singles that define Cetera’s solo career for many people: “Glory Of Love,” the ballad/love theme from The Karate Kid, Part II (co-written with his then-wife & David Foster), and “The Next Time I Fall,” his duet with crossover Christian Pop singer Amy Grant. Had these songs been performed by almost any other Peter Cetera Photo (from Big Mistake video)mainstream pop singer I probably would have dismissed them, but because of his unmistakable vocals I unabashedly adore them both. I’m sure he made many female listeners believe that he was the man who would fight for their honor, and the next time he fell in love it would, in fact, be with them. Album closer “Only Love Knows Why” is the only other song that fits the mold of the two big hits but, in spite of being another very strong ballad, it was only a minor Adult Contemporary hit. The rest of the album is mostly upbeat rock/pop with the expected synthetic sheen of the era. “Big Mistake” shows off a more aggressive vocal approach that fans of his previous album (as well as Chicago songs like “Stay The Night” & “Along Comes A Woman”) would enjoy, and “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To” is a radio-friendly track which might have been a hit had his fans & record label not been clamoring for more ballads. “Queen Of The Masquerade Ball,” “Daddy’s Girl” and “Wake Up To Love” are all essentially synth-pop songs with repetitive grooves that are elevated by his voice and some catchy melodies. Only the title track falls flat for me. I realize I’m unlikely to convince anyone, especially stubborn rock fans and people who hate ‘80s pop music, that Peter Cetera’s solo material is worth checking out, but if you ever loved his voice during his Chicago years you’ll find a lot to enjoy in his solo discography, and Solitude/Solitaire is a great place to start. Beyond that, I highly recommend his 1992 album World Falling Down, which I believe is one of the greatest post-breakup albums ever released and the pinnacle of his post-Chicago career.

10 comments on “Thirty Year Thursday – PETER CETERA “SOLITUDE/SOLITAIRE”

  1. Kevin
    October 27, 2016

    Rich, I admire the breadth of your musical tastes. I have to go read your “no guilt just pleasure” post.


    • Thanks Kevin. That “breadth” you mentioned has cost me a lot of “bread.” 😀 I’ll be curious to find out if you enjoy any of the artists I covered in the No Guilt, Just Pleasure post.


  2. mikeladano
    October 27, 2016

    I’m not at all familiar with solo Cetera. I’ve probably heard some of these songs without knowing it.


    • Mike, I’m guessing you would know the two big hits from this one, but I can’t imagine you’re a fan. Then again, most people wouldn’t expect me to like them either.


  3. Murphy's Law
    October 28, 2016

    I just can’t listen to him objectively; this is “mom rock” to me. Literally, my mom’s a big Chicago fan. For 80’s pop goodness, I prefer Hall and Oates.


    • I completely understand your impression of Cetera’s music, even though I don’t necessarily agree with it. Coming to his solo career via his amazing work with Chicago, I will always be happy to hear his voice no matter what he’s singing. Are you familiar with anything Chicago did in the ’60s & ’70s? I think the impact of the music they made at that time was diluted by their ’80s pop hits, but they were as groundbreaking & influential as any band of their era.


      • Murphy's Law
        October 28, 2016

        I’ve heard their more popular 70’s work, and you’re right, it’s a lot better than their 80’s hits.


      • I like a lot of Chicago’s ’80s hits but they did sound like a completely different band.


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