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Chris Thompson - Backtrack 1980-1994

  by Fiona Hutchings

published: 11 / 9 / 2009

Chris Thompson - Backtrack 1980-1994
Label: Voiceprint
Format: CD


Competent, but often forgettable retrospective of solo work from Chris Thompson, the former front man with Manfred Mann's Earth Band

Perhaps best known as a singer with Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Chris Thompson has had a long and varied career. This compilation spans 14 years of his solo work. He also looks not unlike Paul Carrack on the front cover. The album kicks off with Thompson's version of John Farnham's massive hit 'You're The Voice' which Thompson co-wrote. It is a slightly more restrained take on what is essentially a big hair, pretend microphone-in-front-of-the-mirror number (or maybe it was just me that used to do that?) The bagpipe solo is still there in all its glory. In a similar vein the album also includes a solo version of arguably the Manfred Mann Earthband's best remembered track 'Blinded By The Light'. It's far rockier than the original with much less icy keyboard and a slightly different arrangement of that all important chorus ("wrapped up like a deuce/another runner in the night"in case you were wondering). Some tracks do cross over into schmaltz, 'If You Remember Me',for example,doesn't go anywhere. 'Thru Your Eyes' is 80's keyboard rock by numbers both in sound and lyrical content. Perfectly acceptable and instantly forgettable. 'Shift in the Wind' is just too worthy even if the sentiment that we should end famine is noble. Perhaps the most intriguing track for me was the cover of 'Don't Stand So Close To Me' by The Police. It is one of my favourite Police tracks. It starts somewhat eerily with the sound of children playing, the tinkling school bell and horns becoming increasingly sinister. The arrangement is an interesting twist on the original but the vocals lack Sting's particular mix of repression and menace. The horns remain too present giving an unwelcome orchestral overture and leaving the taste of 'Live and Let Die' in my mouth. Bizarrely the next track 'Finale' is a total orchestral number over which Thompson continues to implore us not to "stand so close" to him and that actually works far better than the preceeding track. All in all these tracks are exactly what you would expect from a 80's – mid 90's middle of the road rocker. That's not meant to be in anyway derogatory, Thompson is very good at what he does. The more upbeat numbers are the stronger tracks, 'Blaze of Love', 'Tower of Love' and 'Secrets In The Dark'. When the guitars scream and wail by turns, the hooks and middle 8's get stuck in your head straight away and they don't demand too much of the listener (well, except perhaps the odd air guitar solo) and you feel you should be wearing too much denim and sporting a mullet. The trouble is the slow songs put you in a 180 degree spin and you end up looking like Don Johnson in 'Miami Vice' – this album is suffering something of an identity crisis. At 19 tracks (including 2 bonuses) you get your money's worth on this album. Chris Thompson is currently reprising his role in the global tour of War of The Worlds. More details about Chris can be found on his official website www.christhompson-central.com

Track Listing:-
1 You're the Voice
2 Blaze of Love
3 Blinded by the Light
4 If You Remember Me
5 Thru' Your Eyes
6 One Step Away
7 The Fever
8 Tower of Love
9 When the Wind Blows
10 Dr. Rock
11 Shift in the Wind
12 Secrets in the Dark
13 The Longing
14 I Want You
15 Out of the Dark
16 Don't Stand so Close
17 Finale
18 Hot Summer Night
19 For You (Live)

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Timeline (2009)
Superb compilation of original and cover material from former Manfred Mann's Earth Band frontman, Chris Thompson

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