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Michael Chapman

Michael Chapman was an eclectic English singer songwriter in the same mould as Roy Harper and Wizz Jones. A former art & photography teacher, Chapman emerged from the folk scene in Yorkshire, gaining a reputation as one of England's finest original singer-songwriters.He first appeared on the London and Cornwall folk music circuits in 1967, alongside John Martyn and Roy Harper. Chapman's bluesy voice and guitar edged closely to the avant-garde while Chapman seemed disinterested in media limelight remaining true to poetic expression and off- beat tuning.Chapman’s acoustic styled Rainmaker debut was gently assisted by the brushes of Blue Mink skinman Barry Morgan & Aynsley Dunbar, Bakerloo guitarist Clem Clempson , Pentangle bassist Danny Thompson & The Retaliation’s Alex Dmochowski, the latter who played on Frank Zappa's Waka/Jawaka , The Grand Wazoo and Apostrophe. The album exudes some mighty acoustic instrumental riffs on the title track, Leo Kottke influenced “Sunday Morning”  and “Thank You PK 1944”, but the highlights are the wah wah fused “It Didn’t Work Out” and the isolated varied tones of  “Not So Much A Garden -More Like A Maze”. The man is an undiscovered legend as he cries in anguished blues style on “No-one Left To Care”, the delicate “No Song To Sing”, and spiritual “One Time Thing”.

The debut was followed by the quintessential Fully Qualified Survivor featuring Rats guitarist Mick Ronson and Steeleye Span bassist Rick Kemp with string arrangements by Paul Buckmaster. The latter included “Postcards of Scarborough”, much lauded by John Peel, “Aviator” and “Naked Ladies And Electric Ragtime” boasting future Magna Carta John Van Derick on violin. Window in 1970 is the most experimental album with John Fahey styled raga “In The Valley” and the surreal psychedelic “She Came In Like The "6:15" And Made A Hole In The Wall”. The 1971 Wrecked Again embraced rock tempos namely “Shuffleboat River Farewell”. Chapman became a full-fledged electric artist with Millstone Grit that included the opus “New York Ladies” and “Firewater Dreams, Deal Gone Down”.

Many album's followed but the solo acoustic Almost Alone and a duo with Rick Kemp on the live Original Owners are the finest expressions The duo then formed Savage Amusement, but Chapman's most ambitious project of the decade was instead an all-instrumental concept album, Heartbeat (Coda, 1987), containing a nine-movement suite. Sequencers and sampling. Bands like Supergrass acknowledged Chapman's material and playing as a formative influence.

Added: October 19th 2011
Reviewer: shiloh noone | See all reviews by shiloh noone
Category: Music
Related Link: Seekers Guide To The Rhythm Of Yesteryear
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