HARRY CHAPIN – Some More Stories: Live At Radio Bremen 1977

MiG 2020

HARRY CHAPIN –
Some More Stories

New York troubadour brings his aural movies to the Old World and weaves a wonderful narrative out of familiar stories.

It’s difficult to imagine that an artist of Harry Chapin’s caliber could, for more than a decade, leave the States only to play in Canada but, unlike Elvis, he finally managed to grace stages which were further afield from America. Even though the singer’s first tour abroad saw him on a package tour headlined by STATUS QUO, whose audience didn’t care much about such a minstrel, the Bremen crowd met Chapin’s individual outing with attention and appreciation his nuanced delivery deserved. In the set captured here, Harry cherry-picks tracks from most of his records up to date and adds a couple cuts from the yet-unreleased “Dance Band On The Titanic” to create an engaging flow rather than stun the listeners with the obvious choices.

That’s why the ever-evocative “Taxi” is placed as a centerpiece of his performance, not its finale, and is followed by “Dirty Old Man” – an exuse for reminiscences: it’s a storytelling time, with snippets of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “Zorba’s Dance” peppering the concert and adding to Harry’s offering a background for many a number. From the chamber country of “Corey’s Coming” – given an arresting array of alternative lyrics – to the “Mail Order Annie” which wraps romanticism in warm balladry, via the humor-harboring “Bluesman” and the drama-detailing vaudeville of “30.000 Pounds Of Bananas” which comes alive on-stage, there’s hardly a moment of supericial indifference in Chapin’s voice.

Slowly but surely pulling the punters in with an acoustic strum and intimate account of “Shooting Star” where vocals do indeed sound bright and brittle, Harry leaves a lot of space for his ensemble to shine, allowing cello to illuminate the histrionic likes of “Mr. Tanner” and calling his brother Steve to unfold “Let Time Go Lightly” – a concert staple which never made it to the studio – until the effervescent folk of “Cat’s In The Cradle” draws the show to a climactic close. It’s a spellbinding document: taken from a single evening, “Some More Stories” is much superior to Chapin’s official live LP from the previous year – and still, it’s a document of his regular repertoire. This artist was great even on an average night, and here’s a recording to cherish.

*****

February 24, 2020

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