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MICHAEL CHAPMAN

Michael Chapman

True North

    The masterful follow-up to his universally celebrated 2017 album 50, Michael Chapman’s True North finds the elder statesman of British song writing and guitar plumbing an even deeper deep and honing an ever keener edge to his iconic writing. This authoritative set of predominantly new, and utterly devastating, songs hews to a more intimate sonic signature—more atmospheric, textural, and minimalist than 50, stately and melancholy in equal measure. Recorded in rural West Wales, True North unflinchingly surveys home and horizon, traveling from the Bahamas to Texas to the Leeds of Chapman’s childhood, haunted by the mirages of memory and intimations of mortality. Joining him on this introspective journey is a cast of old friends and new disciples: once again Steve Gunn produces and plays guitar, and fellow UK song writing hero Bridget St John sings, collaborating with cellist Sarah Smout and legendary pedal steel player BJ Cole, who has accompanied everyone from John Cale to Scott Walker, Elton John to Terry Allen, Felt to Björk.

    The album begins with the gnawing regret of “It’s Too Late,” and every song Chapman sings thereafter directly references the passing of time—its blind ruthlessness, its sweet hazy delights in noirish language almost mystical in its terseness and precision. (The two transportive, gorgeous instrumentals, one per side, both have appropriately evocative—though decidedly not Northern—pastoral place names for titles: Eleuthera is an island in the Bahamas where Chapman habitually holidays every winter, and Caddo Lake straddles the border between Texas and Louisiana.) This is Chapman at his darkest and most nocturnal, yes, but also his most elegant and subtle, squinting into the black hours with an unseen smile. By the time True North is out in the world, Chapman will be seventy-eight years old and will have released nearly as many records, a staggering achievement. True North represents the most nakedly personal album of his career, his most authoritative, unguarded, and emotionally devastating statement. His universally celebrated full-band 2017 album 50 flirted with much-deserved triumphalism, offering a retrospective of his illustrious career, revisited in the company of the fellow UK song writing hero Bridget St John and a rowdy gang of younger acolytes including Steve Gunn, James Elkington, and Nathan Bowles. The production hearkens back to Chapman’s classic Millstone Grit (1973), as well as recalling Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind (1997); True North shares something of that album’s spectral gloaming, midnight heartache, and sly, self-knowing winks. Compared to 50, these recordings feel narrower in range, less overtly narrative and dynamic and more impressionistic and restrained, but they are correspondingly more piercing and arrow-like in their rending impact, more concerned with an archer’s deadeye aim than pyrotechnics. Whereas 50 featured two new songs among radical reinterpretations of material from Chapman’s deep catalogue, True North includes twice as many new numbers among its quiver of eleven arrows—“It’s Too Late,” “Eleuthera,” the fiery “Bluesman,” and slow-rolling album centre piece “Truck Song”—confirming the exultant return of Chapman the songwriter. The other songs were selected from various obscure corners of Chapman’s vast catalogue (“Youth Is Wasted on the Young” was previously recorded with Thurston Moore and Jim O’Rourke for a compilation, for example.) In these renderings they receive their definitive treatments, utterly transformed.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Chapman once again providing a tender but devastatingly evocative suite of brittle acoustic numbers, slowly strummed or skilfully picked cascades of guitar, all topped with Chapman's husky but perfectly fitting vocal accompaniment. Encompassing aspects of outsider folk and campfire revelry with the characteristic shadowy acoustic undercurrent inherent in all of his work. Quintessentially Chapman.

    Michael Chapman

    LIVE VPRO 1971

      For a self confessed ‘journeyman’ musician who has spent most of his 50 year career on the road live Michael Chapman albums are curiously rare items and even more rare from his earlier years. This one, recorded by dutch “hippie” radio station ‘VPRO’ on 6th May 1971 is the earliest known live recording so far discovered of Michael Chapman after he started releasing records on the legendary UK based Harvest / EMI record label in 1969. This period is for Chapman fans the classic period, that more recently has drawn belated media coverage and recognition in response to the more recent kudos bestowed upon Michael from the likes of Thurston Moore, Kurt Vile, Jim O’rouke and the late, great, Jack Rose. A beautiful clear, warm and intimate recording of Chapman duetting with long time collaborator Rick Kemp on electric bass and which documents material from all three albums in a free flowing improv inflected style very much in favour at the time. it is with this free flowing vibe in mind that we include with both CD & vinyl editions the complete 90 minute concert via a download code card so listeners can experience the whole set. Chapman sounds in a confident, gentle and relaxed mood. The Audience Is Initially Tentative, Possibly Unfamilar With chapman’s work but gradually warming to his complex dexterous ‘not folk’ playing. The recordings make for a fascinating snapshot of the time, with a loose and open approach that offers a rare chance for guitar buffs to evesdrop between songs on some those bespoke Chapman guitar tunings!. The set begins with another very rare Chapman item – a cover version - in this case of Tim Hardin’s 1965 “A Reason To Believe’. A song which had just reappeared that year as the A side of a Rod Stewart solo single (The B side being ‘Maggie May’!). 

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Limited red vinyl version.

      Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      CD includes MP3 Download Code.

      Hiss Golden Messenger & Michael Chapman

      Paralellelogram A La Carte

        In late 2015 Three Lobed Recordings was proud to release the Parallelogram, a collection of five carefully assembled split albums celebrating complementary musical pairings.

        These lavishly presented paired LPs included numerous luminaries of the underground and alternative scenes. Previously only sold as a full five LP collection, Three Lobed is releasing very limited quantities of these five LP at this time in a standalone fashion.

        Michael Chapman

        VDSQ Solo Acoustic Vol. 11

          The godfather of alternative guitar returns with an all-instrumental album, Homages, in tribute to his influences and contemporaries. Summoning the spirits of some of the greatest guitarists of all time, Chapman proves again that he stands among them.

          Treehouse 44 release the first known recordings by British folk guitar hero Michael Chapman. Previously unreleased, these are the earliest known recordings of this great British guitar hero, or as Michael Chapman calls it "The album I had no idea I had made!" This follows on the heels of Light in The Attic'c catalogue re-issue programme.

          The story of how Michael Chapman turned pro as a musician, walking into a Cornish pub and offering to play a gig in return for shelter from the rain outside is both well known and well told. These "lost" recordings catch up with our hero of the piece some eight months later as he played a show at Folk Cottage, Mitchell near Newquay in Cornwall on Good Friday, 24th March 1967.

          The Folk Cottage was established in 1963 and the former granite built farm workers building had secured it's reputation as a seminal venue on the circuit, with a host of talented local folk artists such as John The Fish and Brenda Wotton performing there as well as it proving to be a haven for the likes of Wizz Jones and Ralph McTell.

          At the time Chapman was being billed as "exciting new blues artist" and that is reflected in some of the material captured in these recordings ("Baby Please Don't Go", "Parchman Farm" and "Kansas City") but there is also the odd surprise in store for Chapman fans, including a cover of Buddy Holly's "That'll Be The Day" as well as three original instrumentals that highlight the emergence of Chapman's innovative and instantly recognisable guitar style that we know today.

          The original recordings are quite remarkable given the equipment and set up at their disposal. With the exception of editing out some re-tuning of guitars (sorry Michael!) we have preserved the performance in its entirety, providing a unique insight into the emergence of Michael as the artist we know today as well as a vivid soundtrack of a venue pivotal to the British folk and roots scene.


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