Bill Champlin

Bill Champlin: In Concert [DVD]

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Bill Champlin, the former leader of the Sons of Champlin (1965-1977) and, for the previous 11 years, a singer/keyboardist with Chicago, was on tour promoting his third solo album, Burn Down the Night, when the then-46-year-old and his four-piece band appeared on the German television program Ohne Filter on October 6, 1993, a show reproduced 11 years later on this DVD. In a performance running 58 minutes, he performed 11 songs, five of them from Burn Down the Night. Champlin has a rangy, expressive voice that he uses in the manner of an R&B singer like Ray Charles or James Brown, and during the show he traded off between electric guitar and his Hammond organ, which he played in a style reminiscent of Jimmy Smith. The result was a blues-rock set for the most part. While Champlin's more recent material was in more of a jazz-rock fusion style, with elements of adult contemporary pop, he opened and closed with Sons of Champlin songs that hinted at that band's psychedelic rock roots. But he was equally -- if not more -- comfortable with the more traditional material. In particular, his version of "In the Heat of the Night," a movie theme composed by Quincy Jones and originally performed by Charles, came off well, no doubt because Champlin had sung it for the television series based on the movie that was still being shown in the U.S. at the time. "Beggin' You Baby," a straight blues, seemed to come naturally to him and the band. And as an added treat, he performed his Grammy-winning composition "Turn Your Love Around," which had been a hit for George Benson. Champlin was generous in giving over the spotlight to his bandmates, especially guitarist Garth Webber, who even got his own lead vocal performance on "Lookin' for You." Shot with an audience in a television studio, the video has excellent production values, if little structure; it ends abruptly after Champlin's performance of "Everywhere," even though he clearly isn't finished yet.

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