Amazon Music Bestsellers and Deals

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

MICHAEL CHAPMAN - "The Decca Years 1974 To 1977" – Featuring Three Albums on Decca/Deram/Gama Records -"Deal Gone Down" (June 1974), "Savage Amusement" (June 1976), "The Man Who Hated Mornings" (November 1977) PLUS 21 Bonus Tracks, 10 of Which Are Previously Unissued. Guests include Bridget St. John, Andy Latimer of Camel, Keef Hartley of Dog Soldier and The Keef Hartley Band, B.J. Cole of Cochise, Maddy Prior, Rick Kemp and Nigel Pegrum of Steeleye Span, Mick Ronson of Spiders From Mars and David Bowie’s Band, Rod Clements of Lindisfarne, Pete Wingfield of Jellybread, Prelude, Tim Renwick and Peter Wood of Quiver with Leo Le Blanc of The California Poppy Pickers (January 2021 UK Mooncrest/Secret Records 3CD Compilation of Remasters In A Gatefold Card Sleeve) - A Review by Mark Barry...

This Review and 241 More Like It Can Be Found In My AMAZON e-Book 
Your All-Genres Guide To Exceptional 
CD Reissues and Remasters 
Classic Albums, Compilations, 45's...
All In-Depth Reviews From The Discs Themselves
Over 2,200 E-Pages
(No Cut And Paste Crap)

<iframe style="width:120px;height:240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//"></iframe>

<iframe style="width:120px;height:240px;" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//"></iframe>


Fans of Folk-Rocker Michael Chapman have been here before. 

In June 2004, the 3-Disc Clamshell Box Set "Dogs Got More Sense: The Decca Years 1974-1977" on Shakedown/Secret Records SHAKEBX124Z (Barcode 828291312431) issued the three albums featured on this January 2021 compilation along with 11 Outtakes and Demos and a 55-minute Interview DVD. 2021's "The Decca Years 1974 To 1977" retains all three of those albums in their entirety and the 11 outtakes/demos - only this time adds on a further 10 Previously Unreleased Bonus Audio Tracks but loses the visual DVD. 

Housed in a very tasty three-way foldout card sleeve pack, it has album picture sleeve die-cut holding pouches for each CD n the inside (see photos) but more importantly it boasts a substantially increased 28-page booklet when the previous box had maybe 5 or 6 skimpy pages as I remember. 

Audio-wise - although it doesn't say anywhere who has mastered what and from what - this Mooncrest Reissue credits 'Secret Records' in its title, so it can be safely presumed that those 2004 Remasters are being re-used here. It sounds spiffing – full and lovely and all those Acoustic-Rock moments shining. Also, as I'm sure both fans and the Folk-Rock curious will have noticed, this 3CD 50-Track bundle is presently less than eleven quid on most websites 'brand new'. 

The guest list across the three LPs is mightily impressive too - Dandelion Records Folk singer Bridget St. John, Guitarist and main-man for Camel, Andy Latimer, Drummer Keef Hartley of Dog Soldier and The Keef Hartley Band, Singer Maddy Prior, Bassist Rick Kemp and Drummer Nigel Pegrum of Steeleye Span, backing vocals from "After The Gold Rush" Prelude, ace axeman Mick Ronson of The Spiders From Mars and David Bowie's Band, folky Rod Clements of Lindisfarne, John McBurnie of Jackson Heights, Guitarist and Keyboardist Tim Renwick and Peter Wood of Quiver with Pedal Steel players B.J. Cole of Cochise and Leo Le Blanc of The California Poppy Pickers. They even have Pete Wingfield of Jellybread and "Eighteen With A Bullet" fame on Keyboards for the 1977 outing "The Man Who Hated Mornings" – an LP that boasted Mick Ronson, Andy Latimer and Michael Chapman all swinging electric guitars while BJ Cole pedalled his steel and Keef Hartley bashed his kit. That's an awful lot on offer for a small price. But what's it like? To the down deal details...

UK released 29 January 2021 - "The Decca Years 1974 To 1977" by MICHAEL CHAPMAN on Mooncrest/Secret Records CRESTBX109 (Barcode 5036436126224) offers 3 Albums Remastered across 3CDs (50-tracks in total) and plays out as follows:

CD1 "Deal Gone Down" (61:25 minutes):
1. The Rock 'n' Roll Jigley [Side 1]
2. Party Pieces 
3. Another Season Song 
4. Stranger Passing By 
5. Used To Be 
6. Deal Gone Down [Side 2]
7. The Banjo Song 
8. Theme From The Movie Of The Same Name 
9. Goodbye Sunny Sky 
10. Journeyman 
Tracks 1 to 10 are his sixth studio album "Deal Gone Down" – released June 1974 in the UK on Deram/Gama SML 1114 – Produced by MICHAEL CHAPMAN  – didn’t chart. Guests include Maddy Prior (Backing Vocals), Rick Kemp (on Bass) and Nigel Pegrum (on Drums) of Steeleye Span with Bridget St. John and Prelude also on Backing Vocals

11. Dumplings (Instrumental from the "Deal Gone Down" sessions, B-side to the "The Banjo Song" Single)
12. Stranger Passing By (Demo) 
13. Theme From The Movie Of The Same Name (Demo)
14. Goodbye Sunny Sky (Demo)
15. Untitled Rag (Demo)
16. Journeyman (Demo)
17. Another Session Song (Demo, Previously Unissued)
18. Deal Gone Down (Demo, Previously Unissued)
19. Party Pieces (Demo, Previously Unissued)
20. Used To Be (Demo, Previously Unissued)

CD2: "Savage Amusement" (60:05 minutes):
1. Shuffleboat River Farewell [Side 1]
2. Secret Of The Locks 
3. Crocky Hill Disaster 
4. Lovin' Dove 
5. Hobo's Lament 
6. Stranger [Side 2]
7. How Can A Poor Man 
8. It Didn't Work Out 
9. Devastation Hotel
Tracks 1 to 9 are his seventh studio album (eight overall) "Savage Amusement" – released June 1976 in the UK on Decca/Gama SKL-R 5242 – Produced by DON NIX – it didn’t chart. Andy Latimer and Ray Fenwick guest on Guitars, Peter Wood on Keyboards, Leo Le Blanc on Pedal Steel Guitar with Rick Kemp on Bass and Keef Hartley on Drums

10. Lovin' Dove (Demo)
11. Just To Keep You (Demo)
12. Devastation Hotel & Crocky Hill Disaster Idea (Demo)
13. Waiting For A Train (All Around The Water Tank) (Demo)
14. Devastation Hotel (Demo, Previously Unissued)
15. Hobo's Lament (Demo, Previously Unissued)
16. Lost Ragtime Piece (Demo, Previously Unissued)
17. Lovin' Dove (Demo, Previously Unissued) 

CD3: "The Man Who Hated Mornings" (49:36 minutes):
1. Northern Lights [Side 1]
2. I'm Sober Now 
3. The Man Who Hated Mornings 
4. Ballad In Plain D
5. Steel Bonnets 
6. Dogs Got More Sense [Side 2]
7. Falling Apart 
8. While Dancing The Pride Of Erin 
9. Dreams Are Dangerous Things 
10. Why Do You Bob Your Hair Girls?
Tracks 1 to 10 are his eight studio-album (ninth overall) "The Man Who Hated Mornings" – released November 1977 in the UK on Decca/Gama SKL-R 5290 – Produced by MAX HOLE and MICHAEL CHAPMAN – it didn't chart. Guests include Rod Clements of Lindisfarne on Bass with Keef Hartley on Drums. 

11. Dogs Got More Sense (Bonus Track, Early Version Recorded For Proposed Single)
12. Expressway In The Rain (Demo, Previously Unissued – from the Millstone Grit Sessions)
13. Steel Bonnets (Instrumental)

The 28-page booklet features new liner notes from MARC HIGGINS with further recollections of making "The Man Who Hated Mornings" by ANDRU CHAPMAN (both October 2020) with all the albums credits following. I picked up my copy of this 3CD set for a ten spot and you have to say that even though "The Decca Years..." isn't all classic - I've seen reissues with a quarter of the care taken here being charged at four times the price. To the tunes...

Highlights on "Deal Gone Down" include the near five minutes of "Party Pieces" - Acoustic Folk Rock where our Mike a little too drunk for wear. His lady is far away in "Another Season Song" - a very pretty Bryn Haworth type ballad with lovely Production values. Acoustic simplicity fills "Stranger Passing By" - a gorgeous tune aching with pathos. But the short instrumentals "The Rock 'n' Roll Jigley" and "Theme From The Movie..." alongside the fay jubilance of "Used To Be" let the side down badly, reducing "Deal... " to an ok LP overall and not a lot else. 

Album number two features the excellent Richard Thompson lilt of "Secret Of The Locks" – a vehicle for some tasty electric guitar. Things continue to improve with "Crocky Hill Disaster" but the Pedal Steel and mock vocals of "Hobo's Lament" give the Jimmie Rogers cover a cheesy feel rather than being a homage. One of the album's great moments is seven and half minutes of "Stranger" - the Keyboard passages of Peter Wood giving the song an epic Roy Harper Prog Folk feel. Last time most folks heard the Blind Alfred Read money-lament "How Can A Poor Man" it was on Ry Cooder's debut LP way back in 1970 – unfortunately Chapman does it no favours. Things chug-Rock ala Clapton with "It Didn't Work Out" even if the heavy on the backing vocals almost drowns any chance of a tune you could actually like. The LP ends well on "Devastation Hotel" – all hope abandoned on this 5:12 minute finisher. 

Album number three is for me the best of the bunch – opening so strongly with 7:23 minutes of "Northern Lights" – his great backing band providing real substance. Chapman goes at the first of two covers – the Danny O'Keefe boozer lament "I'm Sober Now" and Bob Dylan's "Ballad In Plain D" – both expertly produced and full in your speakers. The man who hated mornings faces the nighttime with a smile, Chapman sings on the title track. But I actually prefer the stunning doubled-up guitars of "Steel Bonnets" – a really cool instrumental that ends Side 1. He bops with "Dogs Have More Sense" – illusions weighing him down – then goes EC "Slowhand" commercial with the jaunty Acoustic Rock of "Falling Apart". Have to say that the last three may have felt good in 1977, but in 2021 have a dreadfully dated and even hammy feel. 

Of the outtakes and demos, there is a more rocking version of "Dogs Got More Sense” that almost apes Bowie having a riffage day - while the exact opposite is true of "Stranger Passing By" with just a lonesome Vocal and Guitar – a stripped-back almost Nick Drake moment. The Acoustic Folk-Blues of "Waiting For A Train" is nice too but the recording feels very demo and I'm afraid I felt the same of much of the rest – interesting but never rising much above that. 

There is a lot to like here, but I also felt that the splurge of ordinary demos while appearing to be generous actually bring down the steady quality of the LPs. Still, with the decent audio, huge amount of rare material and superb annotation – "The Decca Years..." is still a great buy and a way to explore Chapman's world-weary whine without breaking the bank...

No comments:

INDEX - Entries and Artist Posts in Alphabetical Order