The Chapmans - Grown Up (A Revisionist History)

The Chapmans - Grown Up (A Revisionist History)

Compass Records
7 4532 2

Here’s a nifty twist for a retrospective album. Rather than compile a greatest hits from their twenty years as a group, the Chapmans gathered in their studio in Missouri, chose favorites from their early recordings, and rerecorded them with new arrangements and new guests. Now, I’d like to be able to compare them song by song, but the truth is that I only have one recording of one of the songs included here, “El Cumbanchero.” Then I got to thinking about it and realized that if you already follow the Chapmans, you’ll probably buy this to see how they changed the songs, and if you don’t know the band, you’ll consider it based on reviews of the quality of the music at hand.

All but two of the thirteen songs were originally recorded between 1993 and 1997. The other two, “River Of Sorrow” and “I Wanna Be Loved Like That,” are new. “River Of Sorrow” is a traditional waltztime tune about floating on a river of tears after a lover’s departure. “I Wanna Be Loved Like That” demands that if it isn’t like it is in the movies, better to keep looking. Both are slow, lyrical, and of excellent quality.

In fact, “excellent quality” is a phrase you can apply to much of this recording. Of excellent quality in the way the arrangements and production present thick rich sound that fills speakers and room. Harmonies of excellent quality that only family groups can truly achieve. There are instrumental performances of excellent quality, and you’ll find tracks of excellent quality from almost start to finish, be it the medium country bounce of “Why Did You Lie,” Buck Owen’s hopeful “Love’s Gonna Live Here,” the rolling “Rolling Away On A Big Sternwheeler,” the mandolinguitar weeper “Mommy Please Stay Home With Me,” or Sam Cooke’s doowop “Bring It On Home To Me.”

So there it is, a fresh retrospective of excellent quality. (Compass Records, 916 19th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212, BW