Michael Chapman, William Tyler, Sir Plastic Crimewave | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Michael Chapman, William Tyler, Sir Plastic Crimewave 

When: Tue., June 7, 8 p.m. 2011
Price: $12
British guitarist and songwriter Michael Chapman is so disinclined to trifle with the vagaries of the music industry that he's seemed out of step throughout his 45-year career. I've only become familiar with his work over the past few years, and just about everything I've heard has left me wondering what took me so long. On his recently reissued 1970 masterpiece, Fully Qualified Survivor (Light in the Attic), he plays potent folk-rock with a strong Bob Dylan influence, though he never seems too concerned with developing a unified sound or wedding his songs to any particular style, region, or era. The album's ten-minute opener, "Aviator," with probing violin improvisations by Johnny Van Derek, presages a sound Dylan delivered half a decade later; it's followed by a rollicking solo acoustic rag, then a lean rocker with sterling lead guitar by a young Mick Ronson (who would later connect with future employer David Bowie because of his work with Chapman). Released alongside Survivor, the fantastic Trainsong: Guitar Compositions 1967-2010 (Tompkins Square) is a double-CD collection of instrumental solo guitar performances spanning Chapman's career. Even within those constraints—one guitar, no singing—he nonchalantly showcases a dazzling range. Not only is he fluent on six- and 12-string acoustic, resonator, and electric guitars, whether played with fingers or a slide, but his pieces also reflect a voracious curiosity, extending beyond blues, ragtime, and country to borrow from flamenco, jazz, rock, Indian classical music, and more. —Peter Margasak

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