Here’s a lovely clip of the late Michael Chapman – a 2014 appearance at the Green Man Festival. Also performing at the festival that year were Kurt Vile, Bill Callahan and William Tyler, all of whom he praises before performing ‘In The Valley’.
We interviewed William Tyler in 2019 for his Goes West album in which he spoke about the ‘Folk’ genre. He mentioned touring with Chapman: “I toured with Michael Chapman a couple of times a while ago and he would playfully get riled up, but still pretty offended, when people described him as a folk musician. He’s very rock and roll with his vibe, but I joked with him and said you do get up there with an acoustic guitar, which is what people consider folk music.”
When performing ‘In the Valley’, watch how Chapman uses his wedding ring as a slide…this was something that apparently impressed a young Martin Simpson. When introducing Michael on a Songwriters Circle with himself and Steve Tilston for BBC4 back in 2012, Martin shared how, as a 14-year-old, he’d gone to see Michael perform and was instantly sold when he saw Michael use his wedding ring as a slide.
In the Valley featured on his 1970 album Window, released after Fully Qualified Survivor and Rainmaker, and before Wrecked Again. He signed to Harvest that year but was touring a lot at the time, a need to make ends meet and waiting for that big break. So, after recording, he took his band on tour with the understanding that, on his return, he would finish Window, by laying down the final acoustic guitar tracks to replace what he’d always said were only guide tracks. While away, Harvest’s parent label decided it was finished and went ahead and pressed the album.
As noted by Light in the Attic who reissued the album in 2015, it was for this reason that Michael Chapman hated the album.
34 years later he even set out to right the wrong, re-recording parts of the LP and noting it was a strange experience listening to “dead people on the between-track studio chatter” (Dudgeon, engineer Robin Cable, and drummer Richie Dharma have all since passed).
As part of Light In The Attic’s revival of Chapman’s early career, however, the album is presented as was originally released, with Michael’s blessing and albeit with two CD-only bonus tracks (The Hobo’s Lamentation – aka Hobo’s Meditation and Never In My Life). Andru, Michael’s wife notes, “Warts and all, it is an important part of the Michael Chapman: The Early Years story.” Michael has been less diplomatic in talking about the album. “It is a piece of my history for those interested in that, even though I think it sounds like a piece of crap,” he says.
Despite his feelings about that album he never fell out of love with those songs…as he says in the video above “I’ll finish off with this one, as I always do…”