Michael Chapman - 50 (Paradise of Batchelors) album review

Legendary UK guitarist celebrates half century as a recording artist

Cover art for Michael Chapman 50 (Paradise of Batchelors)

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Now 75, Michael Chapman is an unsung British guitar hero who proves that age is no impediment to a rock player as long as they maintain a spirit of curiosity. He is properly bracketed alongside the whippersnapper likes of Roy Harper and Richard Thompson, but he’s also lauded by Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, who in comparing him to Kandinsky acknowledges the modernist splash and sweep of his playing.

As is his wont, on 50 Chapman channels Americana via his own native Yorkshire grit and misty perspective, further weathered by his formidable age. That’s a poignant dimension of tracks like opener A Spanish Incident, in which he talks of ‘biding my time’, or the dusky melancholy of Fall From Grace.

Essentially, Chapman is an old-style saloon storyteller whose reflections are enhanced and coloured by his myriad guitar treatments, an old dog not afraid of new tricks. Here’s to many more years.

David Stubbs is a music, film, TV and football journalist. He has written for The Guardian, NME, The Wire and Uncut, and has written books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Electronic Music and the footballer Charlie Nicholas.