Bill Champlin

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Runaway Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

He was the main guy in Sons of Champlin but when Bill Champlin recorded Runaway in 1981 the days of blues and jamming were long gone. At that time, he was the key guy in Chicago, the guy that helped push them to the top of the charts with such songs as "Love Me Tomorrow." Runaway, unsurprisingly, sounds a lot like this adult contemporary version of Chicago, with only some minor differences. It's a bit bolder and brassier, giving Champlin some space to stretch out instrumentally -- that's how you can tell that he used to be in Sons of Champlin -- but it's still easy to mistake this for "Stay the Night," only that Champlin's voice isn't quite as well suited for this material as Peter Cetera's, who really could cut through the gloss on these polished, punchy pop songs and make them memorable. It also doesn't quite help that Runaway doesn't have any songs as memorable as the Champlin-written Chicago tunes, so it has the form and feel but not the substance of those adult contemporary classics. As such, it's a historic curio, a period artifact, and not much more.

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