Michael Chapman

Growing Pains

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Michael Chapman carved a remarkable trajectory in the first 15 years of his career, moving from an unknown playing folk clubs to backing Elton John on the first (unissued) version of the Madman Across the Water album, cutting a swathe through prog rock and the singer/songwriter experience along the way. This disc pulls together studio outtakes and extracts from live shows to fill in a little more of the picture than the studio releases. It's the early material that's most remarkable, like "See See Rider" and "Let Me Go Home Whiskey," giving indications of Chapman's rich guitar work. The 1969 and 1971 tracks are thoroughly accomplished, with fabulous live versions of "It Didn't Work Out" and "Wrecked Again," as well as a great cover of "Reason to Believe." The last four tracks come from 1980, with Chapman leading a pretty slick band in a studio session -- but it's obvious he's still writing strong material. The progress from primitive studio in Hull, to folk club, the university circuit, and finally back to another, better Hull studio makes for a satisfying circle of life and music, as well as offering plenty of joy and insight into Chapman's wonderful sound and playing.

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