Monday, March 27, 2006

Sons of Champlin - Welcome to the Dance (1973)

After the commercial flop of their Follow Your Heart album in 1971, the Sons of Champlin took some time off, re-grouped, and re-assembled with a new rhythm section. Dave Schallock and James Preston (on bass and drums respectively) were brought in to replace Al Strong and Bill Bowen.

Incidentally the nucleus of this line-up: Bill Champlin on vocals, keyboards, and guitars, Geoff Palmer on vibes, Dave Schallock on bass, and James Preston on drums remains intact to this day with new guitarits Tal Morris and a revamped horn section.

Welcome to the Dance features the band's strongest material since their 1969 debut, Loosen Up Naturally. While the album lacks the psychadelic-infused lyrics of their earlier works in favor of a more R&B/blue-eyed soul flavored sound, Terry Haggerty was still able to infuse some of his more psychadelic flavored guitar licks into this "new" sound.

This album marks an interesting stage in this vastly underrated band's evolution. Some of these tracks even found themselves rearranged and performed by the current line-up on the band's 2005 Hip Li'l Dreams release (Swim and For Joy). The addition of Dave Schallock and Jim Preston was just the change the band had needed apparently as the band sounds much tighter and more cohesive than they had on Follow Your Heart or The Sons.

Champlin's Jimmy Smith inspired organ theatrics and Lou Rawls inspired vocals are present on all tracks. The Mark Isham/Phil Woods horn section augments a handful of the tracks and help pull together the musical stew which made up the Sons of Champlin.

This excellent album had remained out of print for years and was only released on CD in 2001. It remains available today. Whether you're just discovering the Sons of Champlin or re-discovering them for the second, third, or fourth time this is a must-have album to add to your collection. So make sure to pick up this gem while the getting is still good!


Keshi said...

1973 wow! Sounds like a gem indeed...gotta get it then, thanks!

Hey thanks for dropping by and thanks for that 'gem' of a comment...hugs mate!


Ben Heller said...

From the way you describe them, it sounds as though they're a little like early Doobie Bros, and I love them.

Perplexio said...

Keshi: If you like "blue-eyed soul" this album is definitely worth hunting down.

Ben: Some of their stuff does have kind of a Doobie Brothers feel to it, and the title track on their 2005 CD Hip Li'l Dreams features guest vocals by Bobby Kimball of Toto and Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers!

I actually have an acapella version of the Doobie Brothers Takin' It To the Streets with Bill Champlin of the Sons of Champlin singing lead and Jason Scheff (of Chicago), Joseph Williams (formerly of Toto), and Bobby Kimball (formerly and currently of Toto) providing background and harmony vocals. It's quite a trip to listen to.

Ben Heller said...

You know Perp,

I was flicking through a book today about The Band (as in Robbie Robertson). There were some old pictures of concerts they were doing and they showed a Tour poster and who's name should be on that poster playing with The Band.....SONS OF CHAMPLIN. I gotta get to hear some stuff by them now.

Perplexio said...

Ben: I remember reading about one of the gigs the Sons of Champlin did with The Band. Apparently at one of the gigs in which they performed together Robbie Robertson was rather ill so the Sons of Champlin played an extended set to give Robertson a little extra time to shake off his illness enough to be able to perform.

At another gig, I think it was one of the Fillmore shows with several acts taking turns for 2 or 3 songs each-- before the Sons were scheduled to perform, one of the guys in the band, I think it was either drummer Bill Bowen or bass player Al Strong went streaking across the stage behind the band that was performing (I think the band that was performing was Three Dog Night, and I believe as a result the 2 bands had a bit of an unfriendly rivalry from that point on).

thefunkygoat said...

Hi Perplexio, I'd love to hear that acapella version of Taking It To The Streets! Can you share it? FG

SCION said...

This one ... I don't like so much.
Only a couple tracks have some nice guitar jams - which is what the band was all about - hot SF guitar over a horn/rhythm section.

The first two are the ones to get.

Thomas said...

I am looking for the cd and lyrics to Welcome to the Dance. Any one know where to get them?