Chris Thompson: Jukebox – The Ultimate Collection 1975-2015

Former Manfred Mann frontman’s solo retrospective.

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The name Chris Thompson was never likely to stand out from the crowd. And even when the singer and guitarist hit the big time, it was as the frontman of a band named after someone else, and as a songwriter for other people’s hits.

As such, the sometime voice of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band has been something of a bit-part player in rock history. But he’s built up a fair old back catalogue of solo work, and after returning last year with Toys & Dishes, his first collection of new songs in a decade, he’s now put out this career-spanning retrospective.

Five of the 12 songs on Toys & Dishes also feature here, but that might come as a surprise to the uninitiated because their anthemic ‘Gillette advert’ feel seems firmly rooted in the 1980s. Then again, if he hasn’t fixed his songwriting approach since then, who can blame him, since it clearly wasn’t broken.

As well as You’re The Voice, he wrote and sang the Michael Bolton-esque The Challenge (Face It) as the theme song to Wimbledon ’89 and sang Thunder Child from Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds.

Versions of all three are included here, and it’s those tunes from his peak creative period that stand out, along with spirited live renditions of Manfreds hits The Mighty Quinn and Blinded By The Light, which showcase his considerable skills as a fret-tickling axeman.

Alas, too much else of this ‘definitive’ 36-track collection is indulgent filler – does the world really need another cover of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song?/o:p

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock