Roger Chapman - Life In The Pond review

Roger Chapman is reunited with old Family chum Poli Palmer on his new solo album

Roger Chapman/Life In The Pond artwork
(Image: © Press)

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On his first album in 12 years, Roger Chapman delivers a set of songs that reference his entire career, melding together rock’n’roll, soul and blues influences. Multi-instrumentalist (and longtime Family member) Poli Palmer doubles up as producer and co-writer here. His imaginative keyboards add texture and colour, while Procol Harum’s Geoff Whitehorn shines on lead guitar.

Chappo’s near-namesake Michael Chapman welcomed advancing age saying that he’d always wanted to sound like an old blues singer anyway and the same might apply here: his voice sounds nicely weathered now, with less of the exaggerated tremolo that divided opinion back in the day. The funky Rabbit Got The Gun is the most intricately arranged song; by contrast, the spartan, drumless On Lavender Heights has the elegiac feel of a Tom Waits ballad. Chapman looks back with wry nostalgia at the high times that were had in the 60s on Naughty Child, but claims that his anger at politicians – “two faced hypocrites” – is what fans his creative fire.

At the age of 79 he clearly still has work left to do and plenty of raw material from which to draw. 

Mike Barnes

Mike Barnes is the author of Captain Beefheart - The Biography (Omnibus Press, 2011) and A New Day Yesterday: UK Progressive Rock & the 1970s (2020). He was a regular contributor to Select magazine and his work regularly appears in Prog, Mojo and Wire. He also plays the drums.