Michael Chapman

Growing Pains, Vol. 2

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Certainly this assortment of odds and ends will only be attended to by hardcore Michael Chapman fans, a limited niche that must make it hell upon the sales department trying to drum up interest in this title. Then again, this makes no bones about being the kind of oddity for which only fans clamor. And isn't it better for these to show up on a legit release, with detailed liner notes and professional layout, than a bootleg? The first four songs are the most interesting and valuable, taken from a live show at Southampton University Folk Club in 1969. All of the four (some purely instrumental, some vocal) are solo acoustic, with a languorous yet somber downcast feel that puts this middleweight singer/songwriter somewhere between Bert Jansch and John Fahey in tone. The next five songs were recorded with a full rock band, including Rick Kemp of Steeleye Span on bass and Keef Hartley on drums. Confusingly, the liner notes infer that these were recorded at a European concert in 1976, while the track listings seem to indicate that the source is "Studios, London 1978." Regardless, these are journeyman mid-'70s rock with a bit of a folk feel and more literate lyrics than those of many a similar-sounding bar band. The final track is a true curiosity: a half-hour instrumental piece created as backing music for catwalks of Chapman's wife's fashion shows. These are acceptable but unmemorable, highly textured electric and acoustic guitar passages, integrating a full rhythm section (complete with mechanical percussion), and not at all typical of Chapman's usual material.

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