Roger Chapman: a performer first, a recording artist second

Former Family man Roger Chapman's first solo stirrings, boxed with bonuses

Roger Chapman: Moths To A Flame Recordings 1979-1981 cover art
(Image: © Cherry Red)

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You’d think a voice like Roger Chapman’s could tackle any style of music and still prick up plenty of ears. But after making his name fronting progressively minded blues rockers Family and then ploughing a flintier blues-rock furrow with Streetwalkers, 1979’s Chappo saw him newly solo and slightly unsure of his identity. 

Drawing on more diverse textures works on the gutsy rock’n’soul of Midnite Child and the funky twang of Who Pulled The Nite Down, but the anaemic electric piano and anodyne production water down the taste.

Dabblings in southern rock (Ducking Down and bonus track Fist To Yer Jaw) and a chunkier sound make his second studio album (and the fourth of five discs here) more satisfying, but the material in this box set that has endured best is on the two Live In Hamburg CDs, which show just what an elemental force Chapman was on stage when backed by his band The Shortlist. 

Feisty live takes of Moth To A Flame and Can’t Get In sound like they were always designed to be performed rather than recorded. Live tracks from a BBC In Concert show beef up the package further to reinforce the notion of a performer first, a recording artist second.

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