Roger Chapman

Anthology: 1979-1998

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After Family's breakup in 1973, it took Roger Chapman six years to release his first solo album. 1979's Chappo marked his eclectic but spotty career as a solo artist, with only a few albums truly illustrating Chapman's vivaciousness and fervency as a singer -- attributes that were much more consistent during his stint with his first band. Anthology 1979-1998 is a marvelous two-disc set made up of 33 tracks, including eight live cuts, piecing the best that Chapman had to offer during his 19 years on his own. His best material comes from 1989's Walking the Cat, as well as his '90s efforts, including Hybrid and Lowdown and Kiss My Soul, with the latter album represented here by the title track and "Into the Bright," truly one of his best songs. Each and every live song is well worth hearing, especially a version of Family's "Burlesque" and his attempt at "Zip Ah De Do Da," both previously unreleased. His work with the Shortlist produced the appealing "Slow Down" track, while his hard-to-find work with makeshift band the Riffburglars presents this set with "The Shadow Knows," the title of his 1984 release. Throughout the course of Chapman's solo work, he implemented moderate amounts of British blues, R&B, and even conservative funk into his music, furthering his trademark as a well-rounded musician and employing his nasally gruff voice to more than one style. His rendition of the Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together" is actually appealing, which can't really be said for Hendrix's "Stone Free," while his sometimes obscured passion and dynamism peek out from cuts like "Love Is a Hard Thing," "Common Touch," and "Even Angels." Highly appreciated in Germany, albums like Mango Crazy, Hyenas, and He Was She Was failed to give Chapman the success he was after worldwide. Anthology 1979-1998 is both commendable and convenient at representing Chapman on his own, but some of his latter releases are still worth investigating.

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