Every artist has a piece of work that niggles themsomething that they wish they could redo, given the chance. It’s why Paul McCartney once reproduced Let It Be and why Kate Bush re-recorded Wuthering Heights for her best-of album. For the prolificMichael Chapman, that album is Window, the missing link in our series of Chapman’s early albums. Window sits just after the previously released Fully Qualified Survivor and Rainmaker, right before Wrecked Again.
When Chapman recorded the album in 1970, while signed to the hip Harvest label (home to Kevin Ayers and Syd Barrett, among others), the singer-songwriter and prodigious guitarist was in transition from his folkier origins to his heavier future and heading for a whole mess of trouble. Immediately after recording finished, Michael took the band back out on the road with the understanding that as soon as he got back, he’d put the final acoustic guitar tracks down to replace what he’s always said were only guide tracks. Unfortunately, Harvest’s parent label decided the album was finished and pressed it up anyway. And Chapman, as a result, hates it.
Indeed, 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 our 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. Andru [Chapman] 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.
We’re loathe to disagree with him, but, well, why don’t you take a listen and decide for yourselves?