He's been called the best-known unknown singer in the world, a musician's musician, a full-tilt street poet. He's Bill Champlin, a founding member of the legendary San Francisco band Sons of Champlin, and songwriter with two GRAMMY® awards and six critically-acclaimed solo albums. Fed up with the music industry, he hasn't released a solo album in 10 years, leading fans to ask, "Where have you been?" This cult figure has been hiding in plain sight: playing in the band Chicago and singing some of its biggest hits, and penning a remarkable collection of songs, No Place Left To Fall.
Bill Champlin, the former leader of the Sons of Champlin (1965-1977) and, for the previous 11 years, a singer/keyboardist with Chicago, was on tour promoting his third solo album, Burn Down the Night, when the then-46-year-old and his four-piece band appeared on the German television program Ohne Filter on October 6, 1993, a show reproduced 11 years later on this DVD. In a performance running 58 minutes, he performed 11 songs, five of them from Burn Down the Night. Champlin has a rangy, expressive voice that he uses in the manner of an R&B singer like Ray Charles or James Brown, and during the show he traded off between electric guitar and his Hammond organ, which he played in a style reminiscent of Jimmy Smith.
CWF is a West Coast AOR supergroup teaming up Toto’s Joseph Williams with former Chicago vocalist Bill Champlin and guitarist/producer Peter Friestedt. The trio have released a live DVD already and Williams & Friestedt released a cracking AOR album a few years ago on the same label…
Recorded in Bruce Walford's studio in San Anselmo, this album sees the Sons in transition. Tim Cain, the sax player who co-founded the band with Bill Champlin back in 1965, had left, as had trumpet player Jim Beem. The stripped down band has an opportunity to stretch out on a number of fine Bill Champlin compositions, and the album also features the recorded debut of Terry Haggerty's "Follow Your Heart", a tune that would stay in the band's set list until Haggerty's departure in 2001 (a more polished version of the tune appeared on the out of print Circle of Love album, and there is a great performance on The Sons Live CD released in 1997). Soon after the release of this album Bill Champlin took the first of his sabaticals from the group, returning to a new rhythm section and a revised name (Yogi Phlegm) several months later. Not quite as good as Welcome to the Dance, this album still cooks pretty hard and is definitely worth a listen.
The Sons of Champlin released three albums on Capitol Records between 1969 and 1971 (Loosen Up Naturally, The Sons, and Follow Your Heart), none of which was a commercial hit for various reasons, but not for lack of musical quality. This 78-minute CD makes a reasonable selection of the highlights from those LPs, demonstrating that at their best, the Sons were a collection of talented musicians who packed their songs full of good solos that grew out of complicated arrangements. Although they were a part of the psychedelic San Francisco scene of the time, their music never quite fit the mold, leaning much more toward jazz and R&B than, say, the Grateful Dead. the Sons played instruments including saxophones and a vibraphone, not otherwise typical of the San Francisco Sound, and they were less interested in songs than in creating platforms for soloing. They might start a tune like "Love of a Woman" as a gentle, romantic ballad with an acoustic guitar, but midway through that would suddenly give way to a jazzy instrumental section in a different time signature, return to the ballad, then again go off into jazz.
Back in November of 1979, deeply respected saxophonist and arranger Tom Saviano assembled a group of outstanding musicians and vocalists to create an incredible jazz infused R&B/Pop debut album under the band name HEAT. At the time, Saviano had just come off of working extensively with Melissa Manchester as musical director on her tours as well as in the studio. But now his HEAT project was literally turning up the fire on his talents as a writer, producer, arranger and musician.
Japanese only Live CDs release from the Jay Graydon All Stars featuring Bill Champlin, Steve Porcaro, Joseph Williams, and more! CD features the high-fidelity SHM-CD format (compatible with standard CD players). Two-time Grammy winner/arranger/producer/songwriter/guitarist Jay Graydon's credits include hits by Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire ("After the Love Is Gone," co-written with David Foster and Bill Champlin), Steely Dan, Dionne Warwick, Air Supply, Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau ("Mornin'"), Breakin' Away, Heart's Horizon, High Crime, Jarreau, This Time, the Manhattan Transfer ("Twilight Zone"), George Benson ("Turn Your Love Around"), Cher, Christopher Cross, DeBarge ("Who's Holding Donna Now"), Barry Manilow (Even Now), and El Debarge, among many others. He also was involved with the soundtracks to Ghostbusters, Miami Vice, and St. Elmo's Fire.
GRP's generally well-chosen 1991 Collection covers an entire decade of Lee Ritenour releases from Elektra and GRP. As such, those years seem to form a late-'70s plateau descending into a commercial valley by the early part of the '80s and then gradually ascending a slope as Rit's playing grows and deepens in the decade's final years. Some of the high points are the Latin-inflected numbers from Festival ("Latin Lover") and Portrait ("Asa") and two excellent straight-ahead excerpts from Stolen Moments ("24th Street Blues," "Waltz for Carmen"), the latter two with lots of Wes Montgomery-like octave work. And even "Is It You?," Ritenour's pop hit from 1981, comes off as a good, catchy piece of record-making. Recommended for those who only want a sample of Lee Ritenour's voluminous solo output.
American pop/jazz-rock group. One of the biggest-selling bands in U.S. history, hailing from the Windy City (Chicago, Illinois). Formed in 1967 as "The Big Thing", they were one of the first groups to successfully fuse rock with a horn section…