Harry Chapin – Dance Band On The Titanic (1977)

LPFrontCover1Dance Band on the Titanic is the seventh studio album by the American singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, released in 1977. Its vinyl release is a double album. It was later released as a single CD.

Who would have figured, listening to the heart-on-his-sleeve sensibilities of Heads & Tales in 1972, that Harry Chapin would or could ever generate a wry, sly, sardonic double-LP (single CD) album like this? The diversity of this album is its strong point, the core of the record made up of straightforward, serious songs, most notably “We Grew up a Little Bit” and the gorgeous ballads “Mismatch” (arguably Chapin’s prettiest song) and “I Do It for You, Jane” (of which the latter could have been a smash done countrypolitan style in Nashville), and there’s one lean vignette into traditional music (“Bluesman”). But those are surrounded by some of the most bittersweet work of his career, including the title track, “Mercenaries,” and “Manhood,” not to mention the satirical, phantasmagoric “There Only Was One Choice,” a 14-minute conceptual piece that conflates a bitter, sardonic look at the music business and the history of the United States, all looping back to the opener, “Dance Band on the Titanic.”

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The whole album is dazzling in its range, from full-blown orchestrated numbers to solo acoustic-style tracks, and moods running from wide-eyed innocence to seething anger and frustration, all of it interesting and 95 percent of it highly entertaining as well. As with most of Chapin’s work — but perhaps more so throughout this album — one gets the sense of an artist who desperately needed to break out of the boundaries of recording, onto a larger canvas; on this record, the music is so effective that he nearly made it, without ever actually breaking out to another format. (by Bruce Eder)

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Harry Chapin died far too early. One of the best singer songwriters of all time. Well respected across the years for all he did to make the world a better place. It’s nice to know he lives on in his fab music. You never get bored of listening to his music and lyrics. One of the all time greats. (by Helen1960)

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Personnel:
Harry Chapin (guitar, vocals)
Stephen Chapin (piano, vocals)
Tom Chapin (guitar, banjo, vocals)
Howie Fields (drums)
John Wallace (bass, vocals)
Tim Scott (cello)
Doug Walker (guitar, mandolin, vocals)
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Buzz Brauner (saxophone)
Harry DiVito (trombone)
Steve Gadd (drums)
Neil Jason (bass)
Arthur Jenkins (percussion)
Bernie Keising (bass, vocals)
Ronald Palmer (guitar, vocals)
Elliott Randall (guitar)
Kim Scholes (cello)
Gus Skinas (programming)
Chris Waite (percussion)
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bckground vocals:
Barbara Carr – Marsh Lynn Goldberg – Jeff Gross – Art Krahulek – Barbara Lindquist – Theodore Marnel – Craig Mitchell – Nancy Newman – John Quayle – Steve Randall – Donna D. Reilly – Mike Solomon

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Tracklist:
01. Dance Band On The Titanic (H.Chapin) 5.15
02. Why Should People Stay The Same (H.Chapin)  – 4:47
03. My Old Lady (H.Chapin) 3.52
04. We Grew up A Little Bit (H.Chapin) 5.10
05. Bluesman (H.Chapin) 5.18
06. Country Dreams (H.Chapin) 4.47
07. I Do It For You, Jane (H.Chapin/S.Chapin) 5.08
08. I Wonder What Happened To Him (H.Chapin) 4.11
09. Paint A Picture Of Yourself (Michael) (H.Chapin) 3.52
10. Mismatch (H.Chapin) 5.00
11. Mercenaries (H.Chapin) 5.46
12. Manhood (H.Chapin) 3.48
13. One Light In A Dark Valley (An Imitation Spiritual) (Burke) 3.26
14. There Only Was One Choice (H.Chapin) 14.01

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Harry Chapin – Greatest Stories Live (1976)

FrontCover1.JPGGreatest Stories Live is the first live album by the American singer/songwriter Harry Chapin, recorded over three nights at three California venues, and released in 1976. Certain elements had to be re-recorded in the studio due to technical problems with the live recordings. The original LP release featured three new studio tracks, two of which (“She Is Always Seventeen” and “Love Is Just Another Word”) were excluded from the CD release. “A Better Place to Be” was released as a single, and did manage to crack the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The album is popular for its extended cut of “30,000 Pounds of Bananas”, infamous for Chapin’s recounting of his brothers’ remarks after hearing the original ending: “Harry…it sucks.” The quote became so popular with Harry Chapin fans that concert shirts were sold with the quotation on it. (by wikipedia)

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Recorded in November 1975, Greatest Stories Live showcases the legendary live performance styles of acoustic troubadour and noted activist Harry Chapin. Recorded over three nights on-stage in California, the double-LP set features all the hits as well as a few notable album cuts that put the musician’s musical and personal skills out on the line for all to see. There are the obvious inclusions of touching hits, like “W*O*L*D,” “Taxi,” and of course the father-son anthem “Cats in the Cradle.” “Mr. Tanner” and the heartfelt “I Wanna Learn a Love Song” also come across great in the live environment, a setting that was clearly the singer/songwriter’s forte. Chapin has a fantastic rapport with the audience throughout the set, and it comes through with incredible results on his humorous banter before and during the rousing and set-highlighting “30,000 Pounds of Bananas,” a great track about Scranton, PA, and a runaway fruit truck. Sure it may sound a little hokey, but Chapin is a true showman and the fun he has on-stage transfers directly into the joy of listening to the record. A fine musician and individual, Chapin’s Greatest Stories Live comes close to living up to its name and is a fitting document of a man whose boundless joy and insight shined through in his music. (by Peter J. D’Angelo)

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Personnel:
Ed Bednarski (carinet)
Ron Bacchiocchi (snthesizer, percussion, clavinet)
Harry Chapin (uhtar, vocals)
Stephen Chapin (ynthesizer, piano, vocals)
Tom Chapin (guitar, banjo, vocals)
Howie Fields (drums)
Paul Leka -(piano, clavinet)
Michael Masters (cello)
Tim Moore (piano)
Ronald Palmer (guitar, vocals)
Don Payne (bass)
Tim Scott (cello)
Ken Smith (percussion)
Bob Springer (percussion)
Allan Schwartzberg (drums)
John Tropea (guitar)
Doug Walker (bass, guitar, vocals)
Doug Walker (bass, guitar, vocals)
John Wallace (bass, vocals)
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ackground vocals:
Christine Faith – Cheryl Ferrio – David Kondziela – Mark Mundy – Kathy Ramos – Frank Simms – George Simms – Betsy Wager – Sue White 

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Tracklist:
01. Dreams Go By (H.Chapin) 4.54
02. W·O·L·D (H.Chapin) 5.01
03. Saturday Morning (T.Chapin) 3.05
04. I Wanna Learn A Love Song (H.Chapin) 5.04
05. Mr. Tanner (H.Chapin) 5.17
06. A Better Place To Be (Chapin) 9.58
07. Let Time Go Lightly (S.Chapin) 4.56
08. Cat´s In The Craddle (H.Chapin) 4.04
09. Taxi (H.Chapin) 6.52
10. Circle (H.Chapin) 7.21
11. 30,000 Pounds of Bananas (H.Chapin) 11.27
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12. The Shortest Story (Studio track) (H.Chapin) 2.25

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Harry Chapin (December 7, 1942 – July 16, 1981)

Harry Chapin – On The Road To Kingdom Come (1976)

LPFrontCover1On the Road to Kingdom Come is the sixth studio album by the American singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, released in 1976. Longer versions of the songs “Corey’s Coming” and “If My Mary Were Here” appeared on Chapin’s 1979 live album Legends of the Lost and Found. “The Mayor Of Candor Lied” was later covered by Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph.(by wikipedia)

On the Road to Kingdom Come sounded more like a rock album than anything Harry Chapin had done to date. In the hands of sympathetic producer/arranger Stephen Chapin, Harry’s songs are infused with clever and often humorous bits of musical commentary — horns, electric guitars, keyboards, backing vocals, and various sound effects pop up at opportune times throughout — that makes much of the material instantly ingratiating.

While the record failed to capture commercial interest (singer/songwriters were out, disco was in), song for song this is one of his strongest efforts. As a musical storyteller, Chapin has few peers; HarryChapin1976_1both the potent tale of a duplicitous potentate on “The Mayor of Candor Lied” and the heartwarming “Corey’s Coming” are masterfully conceived. Harry’s humorous side, which somehow got stifled in the studio, here comes out of the closet for the title track and “Laugh Man,” though both have their barbs. The album also included two of his prettiest songs, “Caroline” (co-written with wife Sandy Chapin) and “If My Mary Were Here.”

A track dedicated to the recently fallen Phil Ochs, “The Parade’s Still Passing By,” is also featured. Compared to some of his earlier work, which was often dry and dour, these songs are vigorous and saturated in sound.

Some might charge that the record’s resemblance to Elton John’s contemporary work renders it lightweight, but Chapin’s wit was sharpening with age and his romantic visions remained keen. For the faithful, getting On the Road to Kingdom Come is a good idea. (by Dave Connolly)

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Personnel:
Harry Chapin (guitar, vocals)
Stephen Chapin (keyboards, vocals)
Ron Evanuik (cello)
Howie Fields (drums, percussion)
Doug Walker (guitar, vocals)
John Wallace (bass, vocals)
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Buzz Brauner (recorder)
Bobbye Hall (percussion)
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background vocals:
Carolyn Dennis – Donna Fein – Muffy Hendrix – Sharon Hendrix

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Tracklist:
01. On The Road To Kingdom Come 5.26
02. The Parade’s Still Passing By 3.26
03. The Mayor Of Candor Lied 8.27
04. Laugh Man (Chapin) 3.36
05. Corey’s Coming 5.41
06. If My Mary Were Here 3.32
07. Fall In Love With Him 3.54
08. Caroline 3.41
09. Roll Down The River 4.28

All songs was written by Hary Chapin, except “Caroline” wich was written by Harry Chapin + Sandra Chapin

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Harry Chapin – Portrait Gallery (1975)

LPFrontCover1Harry Chapin was an American singer-songwriter famous for his folk rock songs like ‘Taxi’, ’W*O*L*D’, and ‘Sniper’. A highly talented and popular singer, he gained much fame for his self-described ”story song”, a narrative form that borrowed heavily from older talking blues primarily dealing with themes related to lost opportunities, cruel ironies and life’s hypocrisies. Born as one of the sons of Jim Chapin, a legendary percussionist, Harry was exposed to music at an early age. He played the trumpet as a child and soon switched over to the guitar. He performed with his brothers as a teenager and also played music occasionally with his father who had divorced his mother when Harry was young. He graduated from the Brooklyn Technical High School and studied at Cornell University before embarking on a career as a documentary filmmaker. He soon switched gear and ventured into a musical career and found success with his debut album ’Heads & Tales’. He soon gained a reputation as a classy folk rock singer and also became known for his work on Broadway productions. Along with being a singer par excellence, he was also a committed humanitarian who fought to end world hunger.

The life of this amazing human being was cut short by a fatal accident which claimed him at the age of 38.  (by thefamouspeople.com)

Portrait Gallery is the fifth studio album by the American singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, released in 1975.

An early version of “Someone Keeps Calling My Name”, done in a folk-rock vein reminiscent of The Byrds, appeared on the obscure 1966 album Chapin recorded with his brothers, Chapin Music!. The main guitar riff (and entire arrangement) in this version is strikingly similar to The Blue Things’ equally obscure 1966 track “Doll House.”

The album artwork was designed and illustrated by Milton Glaser. (by wikipedia)

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 Portrait Gallery failed to follow up the great success of “Cats in the Cradle,” and perhaps that was what Chapin had in mind. Much more in line with his first two releases, Portrait Gallery shouldn’t be written off just because it didn’t get that Top 40 hit. The songs have again become more personal, and the track “Bummer” depicts a medal-winning veteran who never quite fit into society. Chilling, to say the least, Portrait Gallery is well worth the effort. (by James Chrispell)

Musically, the album is a solid mix of approachable, mostly ballad oriented, material in the long, narrative “story song” mold of song writing Chapin was most famous for. “Dreams Go By”, despite it’s title one of his more upbeat songs emotionally (Chapin had a penchant for crafting songs with sad or disappointing endings, often dealing with characters based upon life’s losers and societies most disenfranchised) became a fan favorite at his live shows for many years. “Tangled Up Puppett” , also known as “A Song For Jaime” was inspired by Chapin’s relationship with his oldest daughter, as she was entering her teen years. A beautiful melody complete with some of the violin and string arrangements famous in his more acoustic oriented work, with lyrics ripe with metaphor that none the less do a terrific job of expressing the poignancy of growing up and how it changes parent-child dynamics, it’s one of the best stories and from strictly from a pop music perspective one of his most approachable works, amazing that it didn’t enjoy greater success as a single. (by Tom From Pghon)
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Personnel:
Murray Adler (violin)
Ron Bacchiocchi (synthesiser, percussion)
Ed Bednarski (clarinet)
Gene Bianco (harmonica)
George Bohanon (rombone)
Bud Brisbois (rumpet)
Harry Chapin (guitar, vocals)
Steve Chapin (piano, clavinet, vocals)
Tom Chapin (vocals)
Rita Coolidge (vocals)
Assa Drori (violin)
Jesse Ehrlich (cello)
Joan Fishman (vocals)
Joe Flood (vocals)
Ronald Folsom (violin)
James Getzoff (violin)
Jeff Gross (vocals)
Jim Horn (saxophone)
Paul Hubinon (trumpet)
Bill Hymanson (strings)
Armand Kaproff (Cello)
Jackie Kelso (saxophone)
Christopher von Koschembahr (vocals)
David Kondziela (vocals)
Kris Kristofferson (vocals)
Paul Leka (piano, celeste, harpsichord)
Jonathan B. Lindle (vocals)
Betty MacIver (vocals)
Pete MacIver (vocals)
Michael Masters (Cello)
Marti McCall (vocals)
Jay Migliori (saxophone, flute)
Tim Moore (keyboards, clavinet)
Todd Mulder (vocals)
Alexander Neiman (viola)
Gareth Nuttycombe (viola)
Ronald Palmer (guitar, vocals)
Geoff Parker (vocals, choir, Chorus)
Judi Parker (vocals)
Don Payne (bass)
Donald Peake (Synthesizer)
Stanley Plummer (violin)
Katherine Anne Porter (vocals)
Frank Porto (accordion)
Kathy Ramos (vocals)
Henry Roth (violin)
Allan Schwartzberg (drums)
Tim Scott (Cello)
Jack Shulman (violin)
Frank Simms (vocals)
George Simms (vocals)
Ken Smith (flute, mandolin)
Bob Springer (percussion)
Billy Swan (vocals)
John Tropea (guitar)
Sheila Turner (vocals)
John Wallace (bass, vocals)
Rob White (whistle)
Susan White (vocals)
Carolyn Willis (vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Dreams Go By (H.Chapin) 4.46
02. Tangled Up Puppet (H.Chapin/S.Chapin) 3.45
03. Star Tripper (H.Chapin) 4.19
04. Babysitter (H.Chapin)  4.36
05. Someone Keeps Calling My Name (H.Chapin) 6.30
06. Rock (H.Chapin) 4.16
07. Sandy (H.Chapin) 2.48
08. Dirt Gets Under the Fingernails (H.Chapin) 3.48
09. Bummer (H.Chapin) 9.55
10. Stop Singing These Sad Songs (H.Chapin) 2.59

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Harry Chapin – Verities & Balderdash (1974)

frontcover1Verities & Balderdash is the fourth studio album by the American singer/songwriter Harry Chapin, released in 1974. (see 1974 in music). “Cat’s in the Cradle” was Chapin’s highest charting single, finishing at #44 for the year on the 1974 Billboard year-end Hot 100 chart. The follow-up single, “I Wanna Learn a Love Song,” barely entered the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. A third single, “What Made America Famous?”, failed to chart. The album was certified gold on December 17, 1974.

The album was advertised with the slogan: “As only Harry can tell it.”

The album was the first and only work by Chapin to exclusively use professional studio musicians, rather than his touring band, as had been the case in previous projects. (by wikipedia)

Verities & Balderdash is a very strange and wonderful album. “Cat’s in the Cradle” was the driving force behind the album’s sales, but there’s a lot more to appeal to listeners, along with enough personal, topical material to make it seem a bit didactic at the time, but Chapin was cultivating a politically committed audience. Verities & Balderdash walked several fine lines, between topical songwriting and an almost (but not quite) pretentious sense of its own importance, humor and seriousness, and balladry and punditry, all intermingled with catchy, highly commercial ballads such as “I Wanna Learn a Love Song” (which is about as pretty a song as he ever wrote). Chapin is in good voice and thrives in the more commercial sound of this album, which includes lots of electric guitars and overdubbed orchestra and choruses. He still loves to tell stories — most are like little screenplays, with “Shooting Star” offering details and textures and a sense of drama akin to a finished film (in the manner of “Taxi”). The “haunt count” on this album is extremely high, boosted by gorgeous ballads like “She Sings Songs Without Words.” “What Made America Famous” may be the one song that comes off as dated, a parable — perhaps reflecting the near-meltdown of politics surrounding the Nixon resignation of 1974 — about long-haired teens and crew-cutted firemen who discover a mutual dependence and respect for each other and reconciliation; it seems like ancient history and probably will be incomprehensible to anyone born after 1968.

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Chapin also lapses into excessive dramatics in the finale, which shamelessly borrows a couple of lines from one song out of the musical 1776. The album also offers a pair of humorous numbers on “30,000 Pounds of Bananas” and “Six String Orchestra,” not the most significant songs in Chapin’s repertory, but both adding balance to the mood. Producer Paul Leka (the commercial genius behind Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”) retained some elements of the relatively lean sound that characterized Chapin’s debut album, embellishing it only enough to give the album some potentially wider commercial appeal. Even the cover art seems to reflect the two delightfully contradictory thrusts of this album: an image of Chapin posed like Uncle Sam on the military recruiting poster with a wry smile on his face.(by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Ron Bacchiocchi (synthesizer)
Harry Chapin (guitar, vocals)
Don Grolnick (piano, harpsichord)
Don Payne (bass)
Allan Schwartzberg (drums)
John Tropea (guitar, sitar)
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Jim Chapin (drums on 04.)
Steve Chapin (piano on 04., 05. + 07.)
Tom Chapin (banjo on 04.)
Zizi Roberts (vocals)
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background vocals:
George Simms – Frank Simms – Dave Kondziela
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Tracklist:
01. Cat’s In The Cradle (S.Chapin/H.Chapin) 3.44
02. I Wanna Learn A Love Song (H.Chapin) 4.19
03. Shooting Star (H.Chapin) 4.02
04. 30,000 Pounds Of Bananas (H.Chapin) 5.45
05. She Sings Songs Without Words (H.Chapin) 3.31
06. What Made America Famous? (H.Chapin) 6.53
07. Vacancy (H.Chapin) 4.00
08. Halfway To Heaven (H.Chapin) 6.10
09. Six String Orchestra (H.Chapin) 5.25

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What a wonderful parody of rock musicians:

The very day I purchased it
I christened my guitar
As my monophonic symphony
Six string orchestra
In my room I’d practice late
They’d leave me alone
My mother said, “You’re nothing yet
To make the folks write home”

I’d play at all the talent nights
I’d finish, they’d applaud
Some called it muffled laughter
I just figured they were odd
So I went up for an encore
But they screamed they’d had enough
Or maybe I just need a group
To help me do my stuff

And so I’d dream a bass will join me
And fill the bottom in
And maybe now some lead guitar
So it would not sound so thin
I need some drums to set the beat
And help me keep in time
And way back in the distance
Some strings would sound so fine

And we would play together
Like fine musicians should
And it would sound like music
And the music would sound good
But in real life I’m stuck with
That same old formula
Me and my monophonic symphony
Six string orchestra

Oh, I write love songs for my favorite girl
And sing them soft and slow
But before I get to finish
She says she has to go
She’s nice and says “Excuse me
I’ve got to find a bar
I think I need refreshment
For I hear you play guitar”

Oh I sent a demo tape I made
To the record companies
Two came back address unknown
One came back C.O.D
Of course I got form letters
All saying pleasant things
Like suggesting I should find a trade
Where I would not have to sing

And so I’d dream a bass will join me
And fill the bottom in
And maybe now some lead guitar
So it would not sound so thin
I need some drums to set the beat
And help me keep in time
And way back in the distance
Some strings would sound so fine

And we would play together
Like fine musicians should
And it would sound like music
And the music would sound good
But in real life I’m stuck with
That same old formula
Me and my monophonic symphony
Six string orchestra

I’ve been taking guitar lessons
But my teacher just took leave
It was something about a break down
Or needing a reprieve
I know I found my future
So I will persevere
And hold onto my dream of
Making music to their ears

And so I’d dream a bass will join me
And fill the bottom in
And maybe now some lead guitar
So it would not sound so thin
I need some drums to set the beat
And help me keep in time
And way back in the distance
Some strings would sound so fine

And we would play together
Like fine musicians should
And it would sound like music
And the music would sound good
But in real life I’m stuck with
That same old formula
Me and my monophonic symphony
Six string orchestra

Oh finger tip
Oh some day, I’m gonna be a star

Harry Chapin – Short Stories (1973)

FrontCover1Short Stories is the third studio album by the American singer/songwriter Harry Chapin, released in 1973. (see 1973 in music). “W·O·L·D”, “Mr Tanner” and “Mail Order Annie” remained amongst his most popular work for the rest of his life. “W·O·L·D” went to number 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The pensive tales of personal relationships on Short Stories belong to a bygone era, when the summer of love was yielding to the autumn of adulthood and the mundane realities that attended it. Like Jim Croce and James Taylor, Harry Chapin observes the melancholy side of life in self-contained character studies: the midlife assessment of a failed career and marriage on the poignant “WOLD,” a dry cleaner whose pretense to a singing career is exposed on “Mr. Tanner,” the meager dreams of a poor farmer and his mail-order bride on “Mail Order Annie.” Yet the album’s overall tone is sober rather than somber. Perhaps “Song for Myself” expresses it best when Chapin offers up the challenge: “Are we all gonna sit here with a stoned out smile and simply watch the world go ‘way?” For the songwriter, it’s a rhetorical question. If the subjects are flawed, unhappy, unable to appreciate or hold on to love, it’s the reality left in the wake of the ’60s overweening idealism. The loss of free love is lamented on “They Call Her Easy,” replaced by the cynicism of experience in “Changes.” Musically, the album has much in common with the work of Cat Stevens, leaning on Paul Leka’s orchestral arrangements to embellish otherwise dry songs. Chapin lacks Stevens’ affection for inventive melodies and off-kilter rhythms, but compared to a toned-down record like Catch Bull at Four, the two are strikingly similar. The fact remains that casual fans will be better served with a greatest-hits compilation that includes “WOLD” than wading through all of Short Stories. Those with a predilection for Chapin’s bittersweet muse will be better served by the whole album. (by Dave Connolly)

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Personnel:
Bobby Carlin (drums)
Harry Chapin (guitar, vocals)
Paul Leka (keyboards)
Michael Masters (cello)
Ronald Palmer (guitar, vocals)
Buddy Salzman (drums)
Tim Scott (cello)
John Wallace (bass, vocals)
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Dave Armstrong (harmonica on 11.)
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Background vocals:
Tomi Lee Bradley  – Jeanne French – Jeb Hart – Rob White

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Tracklist:
01, Short Stories 4.37
02. W·O·L·D 5.15
03. Song For Myself  4.30
04. Song Man 3.15
05. Changes 4.32
10. They Call Her Easy 4.05
11. Mr. Tanner 5.12
12. Mail Order Annie 4.56
13. There’s A Lot Of Lonely People Tonight 3.45
14. Old College Avenue 4.19

All songs written by Harry Chapin

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Harry Chapin – Sniper & Other Love Songs (1972)

FrontCover1Sniper and Other Love Songs is the second studio album by the American singer/songwriter Harry Chapin, released in 1972. The album’s title song is a vaguely fictionalised account of Charles Whitman’s shootings from the clocktower of the Main Building of the University of Texas at Austin in August 1966. In 2004 it was released as a double CD package with “Heads and Tales” featuring several previously unreleased out-takes.

The song “Circle” was a major hit for The New Seekers (released as “Circles”) and became known as the Chapin Anthem. “Sunday Morning Sunshine” cracked the Billboard Hot 100. A live version of “Better Place To Be” charted in 1976. (by wikipedia)

Sniper & Other Love Songs never sold remotely as well as its predecessor, Heads & Tales, mostly because it never had a hit single like “Taxi” to help lift it high on the charts, but it is actually a bolder and better album and a much more balanced record; the lack of an elaborately produced number like “Taxi” may have hurt sales, but it meant that no one song dominated the proceedings. Chapin sings better here than on his first album, with improved range and a lot more confidence, which extends to his songwriting as well — “Sunday Morning Sunshine” is a fine folk-based number that opens the album in achingly beautiful, genial fashion, but it’s on the second song, “Sniper,” that Chapin shows his real range.

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A ten-minute conceptual work, the latter has all the complexity and drama of a screenplay and a movie soundtrack woven into one, and is brilliantly performed/acted by Chapin; listening to it, one gets the impression of a real-life, soft rock version of Noel Airman, the composer character from the novel Marjorie Morningstar, who was forever trying out and reworking material from the Broadway show that he was planning for years; even overlooking the fact that Chapin did, of course, get to Broadway, there’s a sense of someone looking for a bigger canvas that records or singing songs on a concert stage can provide. The rest ranges from low-key, elegantly played, but unpretentious singer/songwriter material, built on beautiful melodies (“And the Baby Never Cries”) to fairly hard-rocking electric numbers (“Burning Herself”). Some of it, like “Barefoot Lady,” sounds a decade out of place in the 1970s, while other numbers, such as “Better Place to Be,” are the kind of extended soft-rocking, poetic numbers that collegiate audiences (at least, humanities majors) used to devour in the early ’70s. “Circle” is probably the most popular number ever to come off of the album, but it’s merely the most obvious personal statement here, rather than representative of this engaging and still very rewarding album, which finally showed up on CD in 2002, in time for its 30th anniversary, from the Wounded Bird label. (by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Harry Chapin (guitar, vocals)
Steve Chapin (keyboards)
Russ Kunkel (drums, percussion)
Ron Palmer (guitar, vocals)
Tim Scott (cello)
John Wallace (bass, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Sunday Morning Sunshine 3.51
02. Sniper 9.58
03. And The Baby Never Cries 5.09
04. Burning Herself 3.30
05. Barefoot Boy 3.29
06. Better Place To Be 8.36
07. Circle 3.24
08. Woman Child 5.24
09. Winter Song 2.31

All songs written by Harry Chapin

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