Roger Chapman – Music News

From the earliest days of Family, Roger Chapman has always been the UK’s most unique and individual singer. That voice of gravel and shale. His phrasing and the vibrato he could turn on or off at any time. All marked it as something special.
After Family and Chapman Whitney Streetwalkers he went solo and this 5 CD box set brings together all of his first two solo albums for Acrobat plus the ‘Live In Hamburg’ album, an additional live album and loads of outtakes and bonus tracks.

‘Chappo’, originally released in 1979, is powerful blues-based rock but, as you’d expect from Chapman, it’s packed with original rhythms and superb playing. He assembled a top line-up team to support him on the album, including Geoff Whitehorn and Micky Moody on guitars, Henry Spinetti on drums, Billy Livsey on keyboards and Dave Markee on bass plus guest spots from Peter Hope- Evans (harmonica) and Ray Cooper (percussion). The album includes a full horn section.
The version of “Hang On To A Dream” is stunning, heartbreaking and deeply sentimental and his self-penned tracks “Shape Of Things” and “Who Pulled The Nite Down” have been fan favorites over the years.

The second of the solo albums is “Mail Order Magic” and at that time he had a regular band – The Shortlist – with Geoff Whitehorn – Guitar, Tim Hinkley – Keyboards, Poli Palmer – Synthesizer, John Wetton – Bass. There was no full-time drummer but he used Les Binks, Mitch Mitchell and John Halsey at various times during the album’s recording process.
There is more of a “band” feel to the album and it feels more like an album of its time than the previous one although the songwriting is top notch and the playing is very strong.

There’s a wealth of live material in the box set as well as bonus material and the booklet is excellent, with a really informative interview along with it. The remaster for this edition is, as usual with Esoteric releases, top notch.

A very good collection and a great reminder of one of our best singers.