Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sons of Champlin - Loving Is Why (1977)

While not as well known as their horn band contemporaries-- Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, or Tower of Power. The Sons of Champlin had developed a respectable cult following in the San Francisco Bay Area playing Bill Graham's Fillmore and Avalon Ballrooms in the late 60s and early 70s (in fact they performed at the final concert at Graham's Fillmore West in 1971).

Starting out as "The Opposite Six", the band went through a myriad of name changes including: The Nu Boogaloo Express, The Rhythm Dukes, the Masterbeats (a name which scared concert promoters away), and even Yogi Phlegm but they always seemed to come back to The Sons of Champlin. A name that Bill Champlin's bandmates had come up with due to Bill's status as a teenage father in the late sixties.

The band started out on the Capitol Record label where they released three albums. The band split up from 1971 to 1973 before reforming with a new bass player, drummer, and horn section. Only vocalist Bill Champlin, guitarist Terry Haggerty, and vibes/keyboard player Geoff Palmer remained from the original line-up.

In 1977 the band released what would be their final album before a long hiatus. You wouldn't know it from listening to Loving Is Why, as the band sounds as tight as it ever had. Champlin's vocals are at his gritty, soulful, James Brown's stolen DNA best. The horns are tight, the rhythm section (James Preston and Dave Schallock) were firing on all cylinders.

Songs like Saved By the Grace of Your Love, Big Boss Man, and Time Will Bring You Love are as good as anything the band had ever released before. They were still a band that was, or at least seemed to be, firing on all cylinders. Essentially they sounded like Chicago might have still sounded if they still had a pair. Their music is brassy, bluesy, and has a punch that should have, but for whatever reasons did not, propel them into the spotlight.

Shortly after the album's release, Bill Champlin left to pursue a solo career. He released two albums Single (1978) and Runaway (1981) before being invited to join Chicago by their then drummer, Danny Seraphine.

It's a pity that to this day this album is yet to be released on CD. The LP can be found in used record stores, on eBay, or, but for the time being one will have to wait for a CD release.

Related Links
Sons of Champlin Biography (from the AllMusicGuide)
Sons of Champlin Loosen Up Naturally (1969) (Review Revue)
Sons of Champlin Welcome to the Dance (1973) (Review Revue)
Sons of Champlin Hip Li'l Dreams (2005) (Review Revue)
Bill Champlin (Review Revue)


Layla said...

People like you (and Jeff) amaze me because you FIND music. Most people settle for what's out there but you dig into the depths and come up with some incredible finds.

I'm digging these dudes!

Jeff said...

Thanks Layla! And Darrin, thanks a ton for the CD.

Anonymous said...

Could you please repost the Sons Of Champlin "Saved By The Grace Of Your Love" file? That would be so very kind and wonderful of you! I wish I could pay you somehow to do it...

Cleveland Jeff said...

Loving Is Why is available as part of the two CD Ariola Years set. See also