With two CDs covering three albums plus a 55-minute interview DVD (which will only work in the U.S. if you have a multi-region player, so be warned), this is really a bargain. You get all of Deal Gone Down, Savage Amusement!, and The Man Who Hated Mornings, plus another CD of demos and outtakes. To be fair, the first two albums are better, and the demos aren't of the highest quality, but when you're delving that far back, it's more for insight than stunning achievement. The Michael Chapman of that period had his northern grit voice on, just as he does today, and had refined the writing style that marked his years on Harvest. He'd improved as a guitar player, too, which is saying a lot, as he'd never been a slouch. There's a good line in covers, too, ranging from Dylan's "Ballad in Plain D" to Jerry Reed's "I'm Sober Now." Chapman slips between the good times, with their humor, and the serious artist, blurring the lines and assembling the parts into a whole that's more or less coherent -- this was a period of heavy wine intake, after all. And what better (and cheaper) way to investigate the back catalog of someone who deserves much wider recognition?
AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2
Track Listing - Disc 3