Through most of the 90s I was on a Bill Champlin kick. I needed to hear every song he sang lead on. I need to not just hear, but feel, and complete digest his entire catalog. I got to the point where I kutchered him. I had to take a break for a few years.
Last night I made an mp3 CD including all of his solo studio albums which I've been slowly, but surely re-introducing myself to.
Most people don't know who Champlin is, but if they were listening to the radio in the 80s they're certainly familiar with his voice on Chicago hits like Hard Habit to Break (he shared lead vocals with Peter Cetera), Look Away, and You're Not Alone. Sadly those aren't even close to being his best work.
I'd forgotten how good much of his solo material was/is-- the in your face brass of Yo Mama off of Single; the pristine studio gloss of the entire Runaway album; No Wasted Moments and Before You Go which could just as easily have been Chicago songs from his No Wasted Moments EP; Fly By the Light and Highest Stakes from Burn Down the Night; Turn Your Love Around, Sound of the Rain, and Through It All from Through It All; and Southern Serenade and It's About Time from He Started to Sing. I could go on and on...There's something about his gritty baritone that keeps me coming back for seconds, thirds, fourths-- well you get the idea.
Yes his material is pop, but it's pop in its best form-- not the dime-a-dozen cookie-cutter crap that the music industry cranks out faster than the listening public can digest (and more often than not, excrete). Part of Champlin's appeal is his variety-- he goes from traditional pop that would be at home on any album circa 1980-1989, to Lou Rawls inspired R&B, to blues (his cover of In the Heat of the Night shows him at his bluesy best), to the blue-eyed soul of Yo Mama or Turn Your Love Around.
Champlin also shows he knows when to call in his friends-- Single, Runaway, and Burn Down the Night feature a who's who of LA session musicians. And when to go it alone-- Through It All features Champlin doing just about everything from guitars to keyboards, to vocals, and production himself.
Bill Champlin is the total package when it comes to rock/pop music.