This Rhino-issued box set features five of the late great singer/songwriter's best albums in their entireties, including Heads and Tales (1972), Sniper and Other Love Songs (1972), Short Stories (1973), Verities & Balderdash (1974), and On the Road to Kingdom Come (1976).
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.
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).
This is yet another Harry Chapin anthology, which, like the others, is a fine representation of his career. All the hits are here, "Taxi," "Cat's in the Cradle," "W.O.L.D.," "Mr. Tanner," and the like, which are detailed well in the liner notes. This set may be a better choice for the casual fan as opposed to Story of a Life: The Harry Chapin Box Set, as it is more concise. There are also some interesting snipets taken from various interviews and events, which offer a window into Chapin's strong ideals and also his sense of humor.
Following on from the highly successful Classic Americana, comes the sequel Classic Americana 2. Chock full of sounds from the west coast, the 2CD collection includes U.S. superstars The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Simon & Garfunkel and more!
One of the late Thomas Chapin's finest all-round recordings, this set starts out in somewhat startling fashion with screaming by Chapin and John Zorn on altos before settling down into a relatively straight-ahead jam. Zorn is on two selections (including one that includes poetry from Vernon Frazer) but otherwise this is a trio outing, showcasing Chapin on flute, baritone, soprano, and particularly alto while joined by bassist Mario Pavone and drummer Michael Sarin. While there are adventurous and free sections, Chapin also has the opportunity to play the blues (on Thelonious Monk's "Raise Four"), completely rework Duke Ellington's "Daydream" (which is given a Western motif by bassist Pavone), show off the influence of Eric Dolphy, and introduce such intriguing originals as "A Drunken Monkey" and "The Night Hog."