Life in the Pond
Still Fearless and Providing Family Entertainment From Somewhere Downtown, Americana.
The adage ‘legendary’ is well over used when it comes to reviewing anything by an act over 40 years old these days; but how else to describe Roger Chapman; one of the British forefathers of Rock and indeed; Prog in his days with The Family?
While not as prolific these days; he’s never stopped touring and recording in the near half century since that band split; and in my humble opinion has never stopped being at the very least ‘interesting’.
Opening track Dark Side of The Stairs is a rather sensuous and sleazy late night New Orleansy type stomp (or should that be Romp?). There sure ain’t nothing wrong with ‘that voice’ that’s for sure; and Roger sounds as salacious as ever if a little bit ragged around the edges ….. but then again; didn’t he always?
Like anyone and everyone with a scrap of common sense these days, our man is using his well used and very distinctive voice to his best advantage; slowing things down and dipping his toe into the Americana pond throughout; with that ‘knowing’ snarl and growl at it’s glorious best on Nightmare #5 and After The Rain which both may or may not be a man’s thoughts on the aging process ….. or just crinkly love songs …. who knows?
Because the title is slightly different from the versions I recognise, Snake took me not just by surprise but a few minutes for the penny to drop. Al Wilson’s Northern Soul floor filler, The Snake gets slowed down to now become a dirty ole Blues song, that sounds like it was recorded on a Friday night in a run down Honky Tonk on the bad side of town.
Obviously Roger can’t still do what he did in the 70’s; but he can still ‘Rock the House’ better than most folk his age; give Collar Turned Up and The Playtime is Over to hear what I’m talking about ……. and Sir Rodney Stewart should take note; you really can still be an authentic Rocker at this age, if you know what you’re doing ….. and Roger Chapman does!
There ain’t no filler here by the way; every song is well worth it’s place; but there are a couple that show Roger Chapman still has a twinkle in his eye and an eye for a great song; with Rabbit Got a Gun being a primo example and that harmonica blast ain’t too shabby wither.
I’m simply adoring the slow and romantic On Lavender Heights which I wasn’t expecting at all; but then again I too am still a silly old romantic at my age.
Having Us a Honeymoon, courtesy of the rinky-dinky piano and Cajun fiddler is another bit of a New Orleansy Romp; with more than a nod to the good Doctor but so many others in that vein too ……. perfect for a Saturday night BBQ.
Which brings me to the album closer and my Favourite Song on a rather exceptional album; Naughty Child.
Dark and slow burning; it sounds very much like Chappo has deliberately kept the best ’til last; with the one song here that sort of reminds me of The Streetwalkers circa Downtown Flyers, with not a note or word wasted on a claustrophobic look back on his and perhaps our own younger days.
It’s been a blast listening to this album over the last few weeks; rediscovering a talent that, while I hadn’t forgot about …. but perhaps the industry just might have ….. and hopefully this album will put right that wrong, across the Post-Pandemic Summer of ’21.
Released June 25th 2021
Fan Site http://www.lakepipewebdesign.co.uk/Chappo/
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