The Man Who Hated Mornings was the last album in that Decca trilogy, and was released in 1977. In this album, we see another lineup change, when Don Nix is no longer in the producer seat, a role that Chapman took upon himself again along with Max Hole.
Also, his long time bass player Rick Kemp is absent, and this position was taken by another brilliant bass player – Rod Clements (who also, amongst others, played with Bert Jansch in his late 70’s career). But the most significant change was the return of Mick Ronson. As described in the boxset booklet and by Chapman in the interview DVD – Mick only had his guitar, a Mesa Boogie amp, a Finnish girl and a bottle of Vodka. He was in bad shape.
So after he laid down all the guitar parts, Chapman was unhappy, to say the least. So unhappy that he removed all of Ronson’s parts, except for one – a cover version of I’m Sober Now by Danny O’keefe. Instead, Andy Latimer from Camel played the electric guitars.
Another welcome addition to the line up was Johnny Van Derek on Violin, who also participated in the recordings of Survivor and takes the first song Northern Lights by storm. His playing in this track is so beautiful that after about six minutes, the band is taken down and only the interplay between Van Derek’s violin and and Chapman’s acoustic remains.
The Man Who Hated Mornings was recorded after Chapman’s live band shrugged from a ten piece, to five piece, to trio. This solid trio of Chapman-Clements-Hartley(drums) is the core of this album. Is still has some added sounds, with a pedal steel, backing vocals (including Chapman’s backing himself after couple of albums of a single vocal track in each song).
Drinking is an issue in this album. If you take the titles of I’m Sober Now, The Man Who Hated Mornings, Falling Apart etc. Nevertheless, the album is totally focused without unnecessary solos or fillers. The take on Dylan‘s Ballad In Plain D, played in an open tuning style guitar with a modal/eastern vibe to it, is just beautiful.
Steel Bonnets is the instrumental piece of the album, and it became an essential Chapman’s classic.
Overall, this album is a good mixture of the boogie the Chapman’s did before, the folky side, the modal-eastern vibe and the funky elements. It’s a great way to end his career in Decca. Though not one my all time Chapman favorites, it does contain some really beautiful songs, though I’m sure that a different production would have done magic to these songs.