Roger Chapman was born April 8, 19 42 in Leicester England , but to the fans who affectionately refer to him as Chappo - this influential British vocalist arrived on the scene in 1966 fronting the innovative group “Family”.
“Family” was an eclectic mixture of psychedelic R&B and art school progressive rock, featuring vocalist Roger Chapman, John Whitney (guitar), Jim King (sax, harmonica, tin whistle), Ric Grech (bass, violin), and Robert Townsend (drums).
In the band’s seven year existence they produced eight albums – all of which were successful on the British Isles and much of Europe – but failed to make a dent in the US charts. Something that would ‘dog’ Chapman throughout his career.
The debut album, “Music In A Doll’s House” was produced by Dave Mason of “Traffic”.
Soon thereafter the original members began to fragment. Grech went on to become part of “Blind Faith” with Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, and Ginger Baker. And one-time bassist John Wetton went on to cultivate a successful solo career as well as pad his résumé with influential progressive rock groups like “King Crimson”, “Roxy Music”, “Uriah Heep”, “UK”, and “Asia”.
Roger Chapman formed the Chapman Whitney Streetwalkers dropping the slick progressive trappings of “Family” to a scaled down balls-to-the-wall rock and roll group. His unique “electric goat” vibrato voice is a raspy blend of Joe Cocker and Rod Stewart, yet he claims to have patterned this vocal styling from Little Richard and Ray Charles.
In 1979 Chapman left the Streetwalkers forming his current touring unit Roger Chapman and The Shortlist.
As Chapman’s career seemed to flounder in England, Germany embraced this raspy voiced rocker, heralding him a Working Class Hero by his legion of German fans, pushing his 1981 album “Hyenas Only Laugh For Fun” to the number one spot where it was awarded “Number One Record the Year”. He also picked up “International Artist Of The Year” and “#1 Overseas Vocalists”.
Chapman appeared on the Mike Oldfield 1983 album “Crisis”, adding his unique vocal styling to the tune “Shadow On The Wall” (which also appears on this DVD ).
Since embarking on his solo career in 1979 Chapman has amassed an impressive discography of over 20 albums beginning with the 1979 album “Chappo” leading up to the 2001 release “Rollin’ And Rumbling” – and this live DVD concert “Family And Friends” filmed at the Newcastle Opera House during his Autumn 2002 tour.
‘The Short List’ personnel on the DVD are Steve Simpson, Ian Gibbons, Andy Stewart Hamilton, Gary Twigg, and Henry Spinneti.
Included on the disc are songs spanning his impressive 35 year career, including material from his early days with “Family”, “The Streetwalkers” and solo material; as well as covers from Chuck Berry (Down Bound Train) and Bob Dylan (Blind Willie McTell).
The DVD runs over 2 hours and 30 minutes and is chockfull of supplemental material including a detailed history of Roger Chapman, “Family”, and “The Streetwalkers”, as well as an in depth interview with both Roger Chapman and fans at the Newcastle Opera House.
There is a real sense of intimacy between the artist and the audience. The stage is barely adequate to contain the musicians and their instruments – and Roger is restricted to a space a little larger than a beach towel - yet he uses this to his advantage, interacting with fans at arms length.
Chapman has a ball on stage – and the audience reacts accordingly by singing along and showing their appreciation for the 62 year old showman with the energy and enthusiasm of a burly bouncer.
For fans of Roger Chapman this DVD is essential – and for anyone with an appreciation for good old fashion hard driving rock and roll with a tinge of R&B, some old time Southern Baptist gospel, jazz, and British folk, sung by one of the most unique soulful voices in rock – this is well worth your time.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on January 18th, 2007