Centred on the charismatic presence and stylistic variations of live-wire vibrato Roger Chapman, the Streetwalkers’ tempestuous but short-lived five-album career embraced a multitude of styles. The curtailed lifespan of their solicitous raunch’n’roll can be blamed on the incoming punk hordes, managerial mishandling or white powders.
Their feet-finding 1974 debut, credited to Chapman Whitney, (to acknowledge bandmate and ex-Family guitarist Charlie Whitney) hasn’t dated well, and is the most disjointed and overcooked release in their canon. Dropping the Chapman Whitney prefix, the following year’s Downtown Flyers introduced their classic line-up, with Bobby Tench on second guitar, bassist Jon Plotel and a pre-Iron Maiden Nicko McBrain on drums and percussion.
The variety remained but the focus and songwriting sharpened. Stevie Wonder-channelling title track, Gypsy Moon a lovely, acoustic, night-for-day counterpart to Family’s classic My Friend The Sun, and Delta-licked closer Ace O’ Spades are highlights.
Career best album Red Card still packs ferocity and impact, as on the searing mod classic cover Daddy Rolling Stone; one of two repro singles in this bumper package that also features beer mats and promotional transfers.
Despite an abundance of typos in the 12-inch booklet, Chapman completists will savour this set and its extras. The best of these bonus items is a recording of the band’s support set to The Who at Charlton Athletic FC’s stadium in 1976. Not many bands could test the mettle of Moon-era Who, but the Streetwalkers were evidently up to the task.