Tuesday, January 12, 2010
But Boy Could He Play Guitar
On January the 1st 1970 Yorkshire folkie Michael Chapman released his second album Fully Qualified Survivor, a record that passed with few fanfares or fireworks (apart from John Peel crowning it 'Album of the Year'). Forty years on, the album pooling all the elements for the post sixties Bowie tone remains an overlooked obscurity.The Velvets, Iggy and Dylan may get the knowing nods for the rise of Ziggy Stardust but the core components are much closer to home.
Produced by Gus Dudgeon, with string arrangements by Paul Buckmaster, both having worked on Chapman's debut Rainmaker - and Bowie's Space Oddity in between - it's Chapman's choice of fretman for 'Fully Qualified Survivor' that's the key ingredient here. Handpicked from Hull, and making his recording debut is - Mick Ronson.
Ronno's glittering riffs and runs electrify the album's open aired fuggyness of acoustic shuffles, lumpen drums and sparkling guitar work. Effectively it's a style that informs The Man Who Sold The World through to Ziggy Stardust. In the the same way Anthony Newley and this chap (no it's not Bowie singing honest!) were borrowed for Bowie's vocal coat of many colours, Chapman's chewed 'S's, fey waywardness and louche-lipped, gin-soaked vocals seem to have been appropriated as the voice of choice for DB's heavy hippy moonage daydreaming.
We've already documented, Bowie's magpie eye for talent, so it's no surprise that shortly after Fully Qualified Survivor's release, Ronson and Hull-based band mates Trevor Bolder and Woody Woodmansey were recruited for Bowie's new band The Hype eventually evolving into The Spiders From Mars until Ziggy broke up the band.
If you're familiar with the Dame's pre-Pinups discography (Pin ups drummer Ansley Dunbar also appears on Rainmaker) Fully Qualified Survivor will get you spotting a references from the off. Build in the space-age mod clobber of a Droog suit, top it off with Vivienne Westwood's feather cut, and all the pieces fall into place.
Michael Chapman - Soulful Lady
Eleven months later Bowie releases The Man Who Sold The World
Micheal Chapman can be visited online at...
Michael Chapman's official website
Michael Chapman on Myspace