Sons of Champlin


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1965-1967)

- Bill Champlin -- vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, sax 

- Terry Haggerty -- lead guitar, backing vocals

- Jim Meyers -- drums

- Geoffrey Palmer -- keyboards, sax, tablas, vibes, bass, 

  backing vocals

- John Prosser -- bass

 

  line up 2 (1967-70)

NEW Jim Beem -- trumpet

NEW - Bill Bowen -- drums (replaced Jim Meyers)

- Tim Cain -- sax

- Bill Champlin -- vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, sax

- Terry Haggerty -- lead guitar, backing vocals

- Geoffrey Palmer -- keyboards, sax, tablas, vibes, bass,  

  backing vocals 

NEW - Al Strong -- bass (replaced John Prosser)

 

  line up 3 (1971)

- Bill Bowen -- drums (replaced Jim Meyers) 

- Bill Champlin -- vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, sax

- Terry Haggerty -- lead guitar, backing vocals

- Geoffrey Palmer -- keyboards, sax, tablas, vibes, bass, 

  backing vocals

- Al Strong -- bass (replaced John Prosser)

 

  line up 4 (1972-1974)

NEW - Michael Andreas -- woodwinds

- Bill Champlin -- vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, sax

- Terry Haggerty -- lead guitar, backing vocals 

NEW- Mark Isham -- trumpet, keyboards

- Geoffrey Palmer -- keyboards, sax, tablas, vibes, bass, 

  backing vocals

NEW - James Preston -- drums, percussion (replaced  Bill Vilt)

- David Schallock - bass, guitar, backing vocals (replaced  

  Al Strong)

 

  line up 5 (1974-75)

- Bill Champlin -- vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, sax

NEW - Steve Frediani -- sax, flute

- Terry Haggerty -- lead guitar, backing vocals

- Geoffrey Palmer -- keyboards, sax, tablas, vibes, bass, 

  backing vocals

NEW - James Preston -- drums, percussion 

- David Schallock - bass, guitar, backing vocals 

NEW - Mark Wood -- brass, keyboards, backing vocals

 

  line up 6 (1976-77)

- Bill Champlin -- vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, sax

NEW - David Farey -- trumpet, flugelhorn

- Steve Frediani -- sax, flute 

- Terry Haggerty -- lead guitar, backing vocals

NEW - Rob Moitoza -- bass, harmonica, backing vocals

- Geoffrey Palmer -- keyboards, sax, tablas, vibes, bass,  

   backing vocals

- James Preston -- drums, percussion 

- David Schallock - bass, guitar, backing vocals 

 

  line up 7 (post-1977)

- Bill Champlin -- vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, sax

NEW - Mic Gillette -- horns

NEW - Carmen Grillo -- lead guitar (replaced Terry Hagerty)

- Terry Haggerty -- lead guitar, backing vocals 

NEW - Tal Morris --

- Geoffrey Palmer -- keyboards, sax, tablas, vibes, bass,

  backing vocals

- James Preston -- drums, percussion 

- David Schallock - bass, guitar, backing vocals

 

 

 

Big Brother and the Holding Company (David Shallock)

- Blood, Sweat and Tears (Mic Gillette)

- Tim Cain (solo efforts)

- Bill Champlin (solo efforts)

- Chicago (Bill Champlin)

- Cold Blood (Mic Gillette)

- Electric Train (Bill Bowen)

- Freedom Highway (David Shallock)

- Mic Gillette (solo efforts)

- Good Dog Banned (Tim Cain)

- The Grateful Dead (John Prosser)

- Terry Haggerty (solo efforts)

- Mark Isham (solo efforts)

- Moby Grape (James Preston)

- The Opposite Six (Tim Cain, Bill Champlin, and  Rob Moitoza)

- The Rhythm Dukes (Bill Champlin)

- Tower of Power (Mic Gillette)

- The Warlocks (John Prosser)

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Loosen Up Naturally

Company: Capitol

Catalog: SWBB 200
Year:
 1969

Country/State: San Francisco, California

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: double LP; gatefold sleeve

Available: 

Catalog ID: 6317

Price: $40.00

 

 

Ah, The Sons of Champlin ...  talk about a talented band cursed with years of poor choices, personnel hiccups, at least one mental meltdown, mismanagement, corporate indifference and more than their share of simple bad luck.  Most folks don't have a clue these guys are, and if there's name recognition they tend to get lumped in with the rest of the San Francisco psych mafia - The Airplane, The Dead, Quicksilver, etc.  While they share the same geographic roots and played many of the same clubs and ballrooms, The Sons were on a totally different wavelength.  Yeah probably just as stoned, but on a different musical path.

 

The band's roots trace back to The Opposite Six (one of at least three bands with the same name) which singer/keyboardist Bill Champlin formed while in high school.  Drawn by the lure of music Chaplin quit school to pursue music on a professional basis.  The band (sax players Ron Arnsmeyer and Tim Cain, Champlin, guitarist Don Irving, bassist Rob Moitoza, and drummer Dick Rogers) actually scored a contract with Dot releasing a lone 1965 single ('All Night Long' b/w 'Come Straight Home' (Dot catalog number 16700) before Moitoza and Rogers fell victim to the draft effectively, killing the group.   Champlin and Cain continued their partnership bringing in guitarist Terry Haggerty, drummer Jim Meyers, and former Warlocks/Grateful Dead bassist John Prosser.  Originally known as The Masterbeats (great name for a bunch of young guys), the group quickly adopted the name The Sons of Champlin (apparently a nod to namesake Champlin who'd become a father rather early in life).  Over the next two years the band line up expanded to include trumpet player Jim Beem and keyboard player Geoff Palmer.  They also went through a series of personnel changes.  Original drummer Meyers joined the Army as a medic (and later became a physician) and  was replaced by ex-Electric Train member Bill Bowen.  Bass player Prosser was replaced by Al Strong.  In spite of the personnel turnovers, by 1967 their unique hybrid of psych, horns and jazz moves had made them a popular staple on the local club, college, and festival scenes.  

 

 

The Sons' initial break came when they were signed to Frank Werber's Trident Records.  Distributed nationally by Verve, they made their debut with the 1967 single 'Sing Me a Rainbow' b/w 'Fat City (Verve catalog number VX 10500). 

 

The single did well regionally peaking at # 124 nationally, leading to plans for a follow-on single - a cover of the Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil song 'Shades of Grey'.  Those plans fell apart when The Monkees beat them to the punch with their version of the song. 

 

 

 

 

 

It also scuttled plans to release a Sons album.  (Under the title "Fat City" Big Beat label issued the collection in CD format in 1999 (Big Beat catalog number CDWIKD 188).

 

 

 

 

 

Things looked promising when manager Fred Roth convinced Mercury Records to sign the band, but nothing came of the partnership and in 1968 they moved over to Capitol which having signed The Steve Miller Band and Quicksilver Messenger Service was desperate to sign any San Francisco/Marin County-based outfit.  In fact the company was so anxious to sign San Francisco talent that they allowed the band to record a freebee 45 - the Cain penned 'Jesus Is Coming, Part 1' b/w 'Jesus Is Coming, Part 2' (Capitol catalog number SPRO 4667).  Capitol reportedly pressed 8,000 promotional copies allowing the band to distribute them to friends and acquaintances.  In fact I think fans were encouraged to send in and request a copy ...  Anyone know for sure?

 

 

 

Co-produced by David Shallock (misspelled Shelleck) and Bruce Walford, 1969's "Loosen Up Naturally" was an eleven track, double album set.   For a band without a proven sales track record, agreeing to finance a double album set was a surprisingly brave, or perhaps fool hearted decision by Capitol executives.  'Course the late-1960s were an era when anything was possible ...  note the album's double entendre title.   As was then standard operating procedure for San Francisco bands, the group apparently went into Golden Star Studios planning to capture what was the live repertoire they'd been working on for the last two years.  Unfortunately, having suffered what may have been a drug induced mental episode, trumpet player Beem was sidelined for the recording session.  That forced the rest of the band to quickly rearrange some of the material to eliminate the horn arrangements and in some cases cover the horn arrangements themselves.  As a result much of the sprawling four sides had a spur-of-the-moment feel that stumbled all over the musical spectrum.  I'll be the first to admit the set was somewhat chaotic, but it's unique charm has certainly grown on me over the years.  Credited to the pseudonym B.B Heavy out of concern he might have signed away songwriting rights to Trident Records, nine of the eleven tracks were actually Champlin compositions. Curiously for a band with a reputation for playing it fast and loose, Champlin came off as a surprisingly focused composer.  While most of the songs clocked in at over four minutes, with the exception of 'Get High' and 'Freedom' most were devoid of pointless jams that marred much of the era's output.  The four side one tracks were probably the most focused selections. '1982-A' (named after a number on the tape reel) opened the album with a nice rocker.  'The Thing To Do' and 'Misery Isn't Free' were also impressive numbers displaying the band's soul influences.  Side three's 'Black and Blue Rainbow' found the group showcasing their jazzy influences, while 'Hello Sunshine' was a rather commercial offering with some nice Association-styled group vocals and killer performances from guitarist Haggerty and bassist Strong.  'Things Are Gettin' Better' was another nice soul-influenced effort.  Side four was taken up by a 14 minute jam entitled 'Freedom'.  The track started out as a fairly focused blues/jazz hybrid, but stretched over a side eventually wore out it's welcome - particularly when Champlin started to scat about halfway through.  Anyone under the illusion that everything from the late-1960s was magical need only listen to the second half of this song.  Yech !  

 

Given it was a double album set the collection sold well peaking at # 137.  That sales performance was even more impressive given problems with the cover art.  Much to Capitol's dismay, the band insisted on furnishing their own cover art - in this case it was a collage that various friends had put together.  Embedded in the artwork an unhappy ex-girlfriend had scrawled an obscenity that somehow escaped notice until after the album had been released.  Capitol recalled copies of the album and supposedly had employees scratch the offending word out.  Needless to say, The Sons saw a major share of expected profits disappear as Capitol charged them for all of the associated costs.  

 

In summary this one tends to get overlooked by the critics who apparently never spent much time listening to it (wow, is a two album set so it must be pretty flaccid ...)

 

 

"Loosen Up Naturally" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) 1982-A  (B.B. Heavy - aka Bill Champlin) - 3:50   rating: *** stars

'1982-A' was a perfect example of the band's strengths and weaknesses.  Buried somewhere in the mix were the bones of an interesting song, but those characteristics were largely lost amidst the weird stop and start song structure, blaring horns, and the song's ever changing structure ...  where did that jazzy segment come from ?

2.) The Thing To Do  (B.B. Heavy - aka Bill Champlin) - 4:45   rating: *** stars

Surrounded by Geoffrey Palmer's stabbing organ and Terry Haggerty's guitar (he also turned in one of the album's best solos on this track), 'The Thing To Do' found the band at their heaviest, though the results would have been even better had the dropped the irritating horn arrangement.    

3.) Misery Isn't Free  (B.B. Heavy - aka Bill Champlin) - 4:13   rating: *** stars

So, just as the opening sound effects led you to believe 'Misery Isn't Free' was going to be a slice of psychedelic meltdown, the song morphed into a bouncy, bluesy, country-rock number.  Imagine something out of the Commander Cody catalog, though this had a far stronger melody and Bill Champlin was a far better singer.   

4.) Rooftop  (B.B. Heavy - aka Bill Champlin) - 3:42   rating: ** stars

'Rooftop' started out as a fairly commercial slice of blue-eyed soul before devolving into an extended and occasionally almost freeform jam.  The first half of the song was quite good and the second half, not so much ...   

 

(side 2)
1.) Everywhere  (B.B. Heavy - aka Bill Champlin) - 3:45  
rating: *** stars

'Everywhere' was one of the album's most commercial rockers and while there were horns, they were mercifully subtle.   Would have made a better single that the two songs Capitol tapped.    

2.) Don't Fight It, Do It!  (Tim Cain - Jim Beem) - 4:15  rating: ** stars

Starting out as almost a novelty country number, 'Don't Fight It, Do It!' picked up steam when Haggerty's lead guitar kicked in and the song shifted directions towards a more rock oriented groove.  'Course, it quickly wandered off in yet another direction, including a strange '50s-styled segment.  

3.) Get High  (B.B. Heavy - aka Bill Champlin) - 7:45  rating: ** stars

Clocking in at over seven minutes, 'Get High' started out as another slice of blue-eyed soul and then lost its way, descending into an extended horn segment, followed by a xylophone solo (always loved the hysterical inhaling sound effects - guess Bill Clinton wasn't at these recoding sessions).   

 

(side 3)

1.) Black & Blue Rainbow  (B.B. Heavy - aka Bill Champlin) - 3:18  rating: ** stars

'Black & Blue Rainbow' could have been one of the standout performances were it not for the irritating horns and the weird, pseudo-Stax riff that kept popping up ...    Even though it wasn't particularly commercial Capitol tapped this one as a promotional single.   

 

 

 

 

- 1969's 'Black and Blue Rainbow' b/w '1982-A'(Capitol catalog number P-2437)

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.) Hello Sunlight  (Tim Cain) - 4:20   rating: *** stars

Kicked along by some surprisingly nice group harmony vocals, Tim Cain's 'Hello Sunlight' was probably the album's most commercial song.  With a bit of editing it would have been a good choice as a single.   

3.) Things Are Gettin' Better  (B.B. Heavy - aka Bill Champlin) - 5:50   rating: **** stars

'Things Are Gettin' Bette' was simply one of their best blue-eyed soul compositions and offered up a track where the punchy horns actually improved the song.

 

(side 4)
1.) Freedom  (B.B. Heavy - aka Bill Champlin) - 14:44
  rating: *** stars

As was common for the late-1960s, side four was devoted to a side long jam entitled 'Freedom'.  The song actually started out with one of the album's strongest melodies (the horns arrangement was even half bad) and one of Champlin's most focused vocals.  An even bigger surprise, clocking in at almost 15 minutes the song remained fairly focused about 80% of the time, losing its way during an needless Champlin scat segment, but rebounding with an energetic closing segment.  A segment of the song was released as a promotional single.  The sound and picture quality aren't great, but for anyone curious, YouTube has a clip of the band playing part of the song at something called West Pole:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VkFOFF4xuk   

- 1969's 'Freedom' b/w 'Hello Sunshine' (Capitol catalog number 2534)

 

 

You think there's be a ton of band material out there.  Not the case.  There's an official Sons of Champlin website at: http://www.sonsofchamplin.com/

 

Champlin has a website at: http://www.billchamplin.net/index.htm

 

Perhaps the most interesting Sons related site belongs to longtime roadie Charlie Kelly.  The site is full of Sons history and Kelly is funny as all ... http://www.sonic.net/~ckelly/Seekay/sons_welcome.htm

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  The Sons

Company: Capitol

Catalog: SM-322
Year:
 1969

Country/State: San Francisco, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut out hole top right corner; includes the insert

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5681

Price: $25.00

 

Known by fans as "The Blue Album", 1969's cleverly-titled "The Sons" found Capitol Records executives desperately trying to inject some degree of adult oversight and commercial potential into these wild children in an effort to salvage the company's substantial financial investment.  The signs of corporate intervention were fairly blatant, ranging from the mock-West Cost ballroom styled cover art which was clearly meant to capture a certain purchasing demographic (note Capitol didn't even bother to shell out for a name artist), to the decision to call in seasoned producer John Palladino to handle the sessions.  Another sign of intervention was the boneheaded name change.  You certainly had to wonder what the point of the change since the album cover contained the following notice - "The Sons of Champlin had changed their names to The Sons'.  Sure seemed kind of counterproductive to me ...    In Capital's defense, the band didn't exactly fight the name change since internal unhappiness with Bill Champlin's central role were already leading to some frustration within the ranks.  That probably explains why this time out all of the songs were credited to 'The Sons'.  It also explained why Champlin's presence was far less front and center this time around.  In fact, where he'd handled almost all of the lead vocals the first time out, here he was featured on three tracks ('Love of a Woman', 'Boomp Boomp Chomp' and 'You Can Fly').  That gave horn player Tim Cain (lead vocals on 'Why Do People Run from the Rain', 'It's Time', and 'Country Girl'), and guitarist Terry Haggerty (lead on 'Terry's Tune') a chance to shine on their own.  While certainly a democratic thing to do, it wasn't a great artistic decision since none of the three was as good a singer as Champlin.  In spite of those changes, the sophomore release wasn't a major departure from the debut.  Similar to the debut, tracks like 'Terry's Tune' and 'You Can Fly' bounced all over the musical spectrum including stabs at jazz, pop, psych, R&B, rock, and soul - occasionally mixed all together.  The opener 'Love of a Woman' was a perfect example of how disjointed the results could be.  Starting out as a pretty ballad showcasing Champlin on piano, the song suddenly exploded into a Chicago-styled horn rocker, taking other unexpected twists into a bluesier realm that served to spotlight a tasty Terry Haggerty guitar solo (really the only one on the album) and then returning to ballad mode, followed by another dose of Chicago horns, etc., etc.  Artistically it was all pretty daring, but the jarring time changes quickly became a distraction.  Compositions like 'Terry's Tune' and 'Boomp Boomp Chomp' followed a similar tortuous path.  The end result was that with the possible exception of the rocker 'It's Time' and part of the soul-ish 'You Can Fly' nothing here really made much of an impression.  There were probably lots of reasons for the album not being very good, a recording schedule that called for another album a mere six months after the release of the debut, meant the band simply hadn't had enough time to come up with another set of strong songs.          

 

While Capitol was trying to clean up their image anyone who doubted the band's counter culture credentials only needed to browse through the multi-page insert which depicted the group (and various hangers) on at their permanently stoned best.  Virtually every photo showed at least one band member suckin' on some sort of illicit material.  Capitol marketing executives must have had a collective heart attack when they saw the final product.

 

As with the first album, Capitol tapped the album for a pair of singles:

 

- 1969's 'Why Do People Run From The Rain' b/w 'It's Time' (Capitol catalog number P-2663)

- 1970's 'Terry's Tune' b/w 'You Can Fly' (Capitol catalog number P-2786)

 

And like the debut, neither did much commercially.

 

"The Sons" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Love of a Woman   (The Sons) - 7:50

2.) Terry's Tune   (The Sons) - 3:49

3.) Boomp Boomp Chomp   (The Sons) - 10:05

 

(side 2)
1.) Why Do People Run from the Rain   (The Sons) - 3:28

2.) It's Time   (The Sons) - 3:55

3.) Country Girl   (The Sons) - 1:43

4.) You Can Fly   (The Sons) - 11:13

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Follow Your Heart

Company: Capitol

Catalog: ST-675
Year:
 1970

Country/State: San Francisco, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 3

Catalog ID: 5671

Price: $25.00

 

Amidst artistic and personnel infighting, early 1970 saw The Sons of Champlin, nee-The Sons, actually call it quits.  The break up proved brief when they were confronted with a large IRS tax bill and threats from Capitol Records demanding that they deliver on a contractually mandated third studio set.  Regrouping sans sax player Tim Cain, 1971's "Follow Your Heart" found the re-entrenched line up (drummer Bill Bowen, singer/keyboardist Bill Champlin, lead guitarist Terry Haggerty, keyboardist Geoffrey Palmer, and bass player Al Strong) returning as a stripped down, horn free entity.  

 

Contractual obligation albums have a tendency to suck big time.  Why would anyone bother putting any effort into an album you're being forced to record ...  That made this set an even bigger surprise since it was easily their most consistent and commercial release.  With all nine tracks credited to B.B. Heavy (apparently Champlin using an alias), the collection found the band expanding their weird psych-soul hybrid to accommodate a more conventional rock attack.  Stripped of the horns, Champlin and company largely abandoned their soul and R&B roots ('Hey Children' and 'Follow Your Heart' being the lone exceptions), instead taking the opportunity to explore a more rock oriented attack.  That wasn't to imply these guys had top-40 on their minds. Powered by Haggerty's fantastic guitar 'Before You Right Now' sported a surprisingly attractive jazz feel, while the pretty ballad 'Children Know' incorporated a mildly progressive feel.     Highlights included the beautiful if too brief ballad 'Beside You', 'Headway' (which sounded like something The Doobie Brothers would subsequent ride to worldwide success, and the closer 'Well Done'.  Unfortunately other than funding a handful of West Coast supporting dates Capitol did nothing to support the album - not even bothering to release a single, leaving it to go straight into cutout bins.  For their part The Sons effectively broke up into two factions (Champlin, Haggerty, and Palmer on one side and the rhythm section of Bowen and Strong in the other camp) and the band subsequently broke up again.

 

"Follow Your Heart" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Before You Right Now  (B.B. Heavy) - 5:34

2,) Children Know  (B.B. Heavy) - 3:31

3.) Hey Children  (B.B. Heavy) - 4:47

4.) Follow Your Heart  (B.B. Heavy) - 5:45

 

(side 2)
1.) Beside You  (B.B. Heavy) - 1:42

2.) Headway  (B.B. Heavy) - 1:48

3.) The Child Continued  (B.B. Heavy) - 7:34

4.) A Sound Love  (B.B. Heavy) - 3:34

5.) Well Done  (B.B. Heavy) - 5:40

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Welcome To the Dance

Company: Columbia

Catalog: KC 32341
Year:
 1973

Country/State: San Francisco, California

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: cut lower left corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5662

Price: $20.00

 

Following the release of 1971's "Follow Your Heart" The Sons of Champlin went on extended hiatus with the band effectively split into two factions: singer/keyboardist Bill Champlin, guitarist Terry Haggerty, and multi-instrumentalist Geoffrey Palmer on one side and the rhythm section of Bill Bowen and Al Strong in the other camp.   

 

In early 1973 Champlin, Haggerty and Palmer decided to start playing again.  Recruiting drummer James Preston and former Big Brother and the Holding Company bassist David Schallock (he'd also co-produced their debut LP), they started rehearsing and playing local clubs under the name Yogi Phlegm.  Under pressure from promoter Bill Graham (who refused to acknowledge their new name), they ultimately decided to reactive The Sons of Champlin nameplate.   With a push from their friends The Grateful Dead, the reactivated band was quickly signed by Clive Davis' Columbia Records. 

 

For anyone familiar with the band's first three albums which offered up a mixture of genres, 1973's self-produced "Welcome To the Dance" must have come as a massive shock.  Normally a modified rhythm section wouldn't be expected to make a major change in a band's overarching sound, but that wasn't the case here.  While Bill Champlin had always displayed a penchant for blue-eyed soul, the addition of Preston and Schallock injected a surprisingly funky edge to Champlin penned material like 'Lightnin'' and 'For Joy'.  Powered by Champlin's wonderful voice, some great harmony vocals and some of Champlin's strongest material (the extended title track may have been the best thing they ever recorded), this was simply a great blue-eyed soul release.  The band's other secret ingredient was Haggerty's lead guitar.  He wasn't spotlighted very often, but when given an opportunity to cut lose he made the most of the chance - check out his solos on 'No Mo'' or 'The Swim'.  Meant as a compliment, but to my ears this album's always sounded like a blueprint for mid-1970s bands like Tm Johnston-era Doobies and "Can't Buy a Thrill" era-Steely Dan (doubt that comparison then check out the jazzy 'Right On').  Easily one of my all-time favorite San Francisco band releases.  Unfortunately, just as the album began to gain momentum hitting # 186 on the charts the band's corporate sponsor Clive Davis was fired from Columbia on payola charges.  Almost instantly the label lost interest in the album and without promotion, radio stations moved on to the next big thing.  Released as a single the title track vanished without a trace ('Welcome To the Dance' b/w '' (Columbia catalog number 4-45872).  

 

"Welcome To the Dance" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Lightnin'   (Bill Champlin) - 4:09

2.) For Joy   (Bill Champlin) - 3:43

3.) Who / Heaven Only Knows   (Bill Champlin) - 6:22

4.) Right On   (Bill Champlin) - 3:54

 

(side 2)
1.) No Mo'   (Tom Haggerty) - 2:58

2.) The Swim   (Bill Champlin) - 2:45

3.) Welcome To the Dance   (Bill Champlin) - 12:06

     a.) Silence

     b.) Sound / Turn

     c.) Healthy Woman

     d.) Welcome To the Dance

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  The Sons of Champlin

Company: Ariola America

Catalog: ST-50003
Year:
 1975

Country/State: San Francisco, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/ VG

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened) cutout hole top right corner

Available: SOLD 

Catalog ID: SOLD  5664

Price: SOLD $8.00

 

 

Continuing their corporate wanderings, 1975 found The Sons of Champlin setting up their own labels World and Goldmine.  The Capitol Records affiliated Ariola America eventually picked up national distribution rights.   Self-produced and originally released on their own Gold Mine label (catalog number GM-94930) the band made their label debut with the cleverly titled "The Sons of Champlin".  While horns had always been part of the band's sound, they were never as apparent and integrated as on this release. Obviously how you feel about horns in rock will determine whether this is an album you're interested in owning.  Having expanded the line up to include woodwind player Michael Andreas and horn players Mark Isham and Phil Woods, this time out Bill Champlin and company seem to have decided they wanted to become Blood, Sweat and Tears, or Chicago.  As usual, Champlin-penned material like 'Look Out' and 'Like To Get To Know You' reflected a likable blue-eyed soul feel (albeit with horns). 'Without Look' and 'Gold Mine' (the latter apparently a live effort) showcased the band's affection for funk.  Elsewhere the four non-Champlin tracks were far more experimental - the Isham penned instrumental 'Marp' served as a precursor to his forthcoming solo career, Palmer's 'Geoff's Vibe' offered up a short slice of Eno-styled atmospherics, while Haggerty's 'Planet Ripper' again showcased the man's amazing chops (including a great mandolin solo).  Wood's 'Rainbow's End' found the band dipping their collective toes into The Band-styled Americana.  Perhaps because it was so different from most of the material it was one of the album highlights.  Since I'm not a big horn rock fan this one suffers in my esteem, but there are some of you out there who will clearly disagree,  Ariola America also tapped the album for a single:

 

- 1975's 'Look Out' b/w 'Queen Of The Rain' (Ariola America catalog number 7606)

 

"The Sons of Champlin" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Look Out   (Bill Champlin) - 3:00

2.) Like To Get To Know You   (Bill Champlin) - 6:38

3.) Marp (instrumental)   (Mark Isham) - 1:30

4.) Planet Ripper   (Terry Haggety) - 3:06

5.) All and Everything   (Bill Champlin - Jeffrey Palmer) - 2:58

 

(side 2)
1.) Without Love  (Bill Champlin) - 4:09

2.) Rainbow's End   (Phil Wood) - 2:40

3.) Geoff's Vibe   (Jeffrey Palmer) - 1:30

4.) Queen of the Rain   (Bill Champlin) - 3:05

5.) Gold Mine   (Bill Champlin) - 5:11

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  A Circle Filled with Love

Company: Ariola America

Catalog: ST-50007
Year:
 1976

Country/State: San Francisco, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: small tear and cutout hole top right corner; original lyric inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5663

Price: $8.00

 

Let me start out by saying I remember hearing this album while at a friend's dorm and being dumbfounded to learn that it wasn't Boz Scaggs ... 

 

Produced by Keith Olsen 1976's "A Circle Filled with Love" found namesake Bill Champlin and company all but forsaking their rock roots for a collection of pure AOR.  There wasn't necessarily anything wrong with these songs ...  tracks like 'Hold On', 'Here Is Where Your Love Belongs' and 'Imagination's Sake' were catchy and commercial but in a cold and calculated manner that turned music into a product just this side of musak.  Yeah, propelled by Champlin's smooth and urbane voice (which bore any uncanny resemblance to Boz Scaggs on material like the title track and 'You'), this sounded just like a mid-1970s Scaggs album.  If you liked "Silk Degrees" then this was probably up your alley.  If you hated Scaggs then run away since this set was likely to kill you.  Was their anything worth hearing on this one?  Well if pressed to say something nice I'd point to guitarist Terry Haggerty.  He turned in nice jazzy leads on the instrumental 'Knickaknack' and his own composition 'Still In Love with You'.  He also saved what was a pedestrian cover of 'Skippery When Wet'.  Okay, okay, stripped of horns and string arrangements the country-tinged ballad 'To the Sea' was nice and 'For a While' managed to generate a little bit of heat with an infectious chorus.  Elsewhere Ariola tapped the album for a series of singles:

 

- 1976's  'Hold On' b/w 'Still In Love with You' (Ariola America catalog number P-7627)

- 1976's 'Imagination's Sake' b/w 'You' (Ariola America catalog number P-7633)

- 1976's 'Follow Your Heart' b/w 'Here Is Where Your Love Belongs' (Ariola America catalog number P-7653)

 

Never less than professional, but seldom truly exciting ...

 

"A Circle Filled with Love" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hold On   (Bill Champlin) - 3:01

2.) Here Is Where Your Love Belongs   (Bill Champlin) - 3:34

3.) Follow Your Heart   (B.B. Heavy) - 2:30

4.) Knickaknack (instrumental)   (James Preston - David Schallock - Jeffrey Palmer - Bill Champlin) - 3:06

5.) Imagination's Sake   (Rob Mortoza) - 2:41

6.) Still In Love with You   (Terry Haggerty) - 3:37

 

(side 2)
1.) Circle Filled with Love   (Bill Champlin - Pat Craig) - 3:23

2.) To the Sea   (Bill Champlin) - 3:00

3.) You   (Bill Champlin) - 3:57

4.) For a While   (Bill Champlin) - 3:32

5.) Slippery When It's Wet   (T. McClary) - 4:19

6.) Helping Hand   (Bill Champlin) - 3:45

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Loving Is Why

Company: Ariola America

Catalog: ST-50017
Year:
 1977

Country/State: San Francisco, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened); original lyric inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5665

Price: $8.00

 

 

With the release of their third album for Ariola America The Sons of Champlin completed their transition from overlooked San Francisco cult rock band to overlooked San Francisco AOR contenders.  Not a pretty sight.  The expensively staged group photo on the front of 1977's "Loving Is Why" pretty much told you what to expect.  Produced by Christopher Bond, the album was stuffed full of MOR ballads ('Saved By the Grace of Your Love', 'Loving Is Why' and the acoustic 'Time Will Bring You Love') and blue-eyed soul ('West End' and 'Doin' It For You') that seemed designed to maximize radio airplay and sales.  Unfortunately those choices came at the expense of the band's creative soul.  Most of this set could have been mistaken for Chicago, Boz Scaggs, Tower of Power, or scores of other mid-1970s horn-based outfits. The good news was that for the most part the horns were relegated to background roles and Champlin was still capable of occasionally cranking out a nice slice of  funk (the Rufus-styled 'What 'cha Gonna Do' and their cover of the Jimmy Reed tribute 'Big Boss Man' - David Shallock turned in a great bass pattern on the latter).  (Too bad nobody thought about a Champlin-Chaka Kahn duet.)  Still, for anyone who loved their earlier catalog this was a thorough disappointment making it easy to see why the band's official website doesn't even list it in the band discography.  Elsewhere Ariola raided the album for an instantly obscure single:

 

- 1977's 'West End' b/w 'Saved By the Grace of Your Love' (Ariola American catalog number 7664)

 

Curiously in the UK and Europe a different track was picked for release:

- 1977's 'Loving Is Why' b/w 'Doin' It For You' (Ariola American catalog number AA-115

 

Loving Is Why" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Saved By the Grace of Your Love   (William Smith - David Palmer) - 3:09

2.) Loving Is Why   (Bill Champlin - B.J. Cook - Geoffrey Palmer) - 3:10

3.) What 'cha Gonna Do   (Bill Champlin) - 3:52

4.) West End   (Bill Champlin) - 3:41

5.) Big Boss Man   (Al Smith - Willie Dixoxn) - 3:48

 

(side 2)
1.) Time Will Bring You Love   (Bill Champlin - Pat Craig) - 3:46

2.) Doin' It For You   (Rob Moitoza) - 3:34

3.) Where I Belong   (Bill Champlin) - 3:02

4.) Let That Be a Lesson   (Bill Champlin - Terry Haggerty) - 2:45

5.) Love Can Take Me Now   (Rob Moitoza) - 3:36

 

 

For their part Champlin and the rest of the band apparently realized they'd run out of creative steam as this marked their final studio set until 2005's "Hip Li'l Dreams".  Champlin struck out in pursuit of a stillborn solo career, releasing a pair of obscure solo albums before being invited to join Chicago.

 

- 1978's "Single" (Full Moon catalog number JE-35367) 

- 1981's "Runaway" (Elektra catalog number 5E-563)

 

I own the two albums, but they've never managed to make to to the top of my to-listen-to pile ...  maybe one of these days.

 



 

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