Chapman had several of live recordings. Here are three audio recordings, and one DVD.
Pleasures Of The Street was a 1975 release, that gathered the best takes of two consecutive concerts that took place in Hamburg.
As Chapman himself puts it – it’s better to get the experiment live, and this album is a terrific evidence of that.
The club was tiny, the band’s sympathetic, the choice of songs is superb and features the Chapman must haves like Among The Trees or In The Valley or Postcards From Scarborough, next to more unknown gems like Sea Of Wine and Party Pieces.
The performances are terrific and manage to capture the mid-70’s mood that Chapman was stated in, between alcohol and a hidden melancholy.
In 1999, the label Strange Fruit had released a compilation of Chapman’s BBC sessions between the years 1969-1975. If you read the previous posts, you probably know that this is the period where Chapman was in his prime creatively, with the release of the first almost perfect four albums and also Millstone Grit and Deal Gone Done.
This compilation is really a great snapshot of Chapman’s live moments in studio, and the performances are fantastic. I like these versions of You Say and Among The Trees and this album take on Party Pieces is just superb.
[Buy] BBC Sessions – Amazon
2010 saw the release of And Then There Were Three. This set of live takes was recorded in Nottingham, 1977, when the big Michael Chapman ten piece band, shrank to a powerful trio, featuring Rod Clements on bass and Keef Hartley on drums.
The performance is just amazing. Chapman is in his prime, his voice is aching, soars and angry. His guitar is devilish as always and the Clements/Hartley rhythm section is in top shape as expected.
The songs selection has its obvious classics like Kodak Ghosts and Among The Trees, but also the funny titled How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Time and Live, originally on Savage Amusement. In Savage, it was under the brilliant production of Don Nix, but in this live version, the trio manages to covers the missing elements that made the original version so vital, and pours the right energies into this live version which makes an interesting result.
And of course, in the standards that the Savage album set, a powerful and somewhat spacey take on It Didn’t Work Out – Chapman’s classic 1969 single – groovy and powerful.
Wish I’d known about this release before the year ended, it would be happy to include it in the best of 2010 list. Oh well.
The Journeyman DVD was originally released in 2005, and documented a show on The Tweed club. There are three cameras filming, one of them is focused on his fingers which only for that – it’s worth buying the DVD.
The sound quality is a bummer. The feed is directly from the guitar piezzo pickup, which gives the guitar a thin sound, full of sparkling highs (which I personally hate in acoustic guitars). They could have just put two mics next to the guitar and get the full body of the guitar.
However, the sound is very good in terms of recording, its just my personal opinion of how a guitar should sound like. See this John Fahey video to get my meaning.
The song selection, is just perfect and really brings the best moments of his 40 years career, from the Rainmaker debut, to the Americanas albums. His playing is just fantastic, his voice is weary, he’s a perfect performance, entertainer and makes the audience feel at home.
A real pro.
As this is the only live Chapman footage you can get, apart from several of youtube clips – you really want to have this DVD, and like Chapman – no flashy stuff, no effect and no bonus materials (though that would have been a nice addition), just a plain man with an acoustic six strings guitar in a tiny club playing his perfect songs.
[Buy] Amazon UK