Michael Chapman

Best of 1969-1971

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The best of Michael Chapman's years on the Harvest label is a glorious thing. Apart from the best-known songs, like "Kodak Ghosts" and "Postcards of Scarborough," there are a couple of tracks from the ultra-rare Window album, plenty of tasty Mick Ronson guitar work (he left Chapman to join Bowie), and some wonderful bass work from Rick Kemp. The star, though, is the "old blues guy from Yorkshire" himself, who wasn't so old when he recorded these tracks, although he displays a voice much older and weary than his years. Ragtime music's an obvious influence, especially on the nimble instrumentals "Naked Ladies and Electric Ragtime" and "Polar Bear Fandango," but he's as capable of a neo-rock workout on "It Didn't Work Out" or a talking blues format on "All in All." Very different from that era's crop of singer/songwriters, Chapman's impossible to categorize -- "Shuffle Boat River Farewell," for example, is a lazy, hypnotic piece, as opposed to the folky "You Say." But the categories don't matter; the bottom line is that all 16 tracks are the work of a master.

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