Volume 1 – The Chris White Experience (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

When the Zombies were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside Rod Argent, Hugh Grundy and Colin Blunstone, stood Chris White, and rightly so. As co-producer and co-writer of Odyssey and Oracle his place in the annals of music history are of course assured, further work with Argent and his songwriting finding favour with artists as diverse as Beck, The Beautiful South and The Foo Fighters just underlined his name in that musical record of music and records.

Volume One is a collection of demos, co-writes and unreleased gems, the first in a series which celebrates his work as a producer and songwriter from 1968 to the present day. Not only an array of great songs but also a reminder of what amazing company he has kept throughout his long and not inconsiderable career. This first record alone features contributions from Steve Gould, Tim Renwick, Steve Lange and of course Colin Blunstone, to name but a few.

If there is a hallmark of Chris’ sound, the word might be soaring. There is something euphoric in the delivery of his songs, something which pushes rock into more rarefied air, takes pop to uncharted heights, not just via the impressive vocals which spearhead the tracks, but through the sheer uplifting nature of the songs themselves.

There are some more understated moments, When My Boat Comes in is a tender and gentle piano ballad and She Makes Me Feel is a gorgeously restrained collection of love and longing made into sonic emotion, but generally it is the anthemic nature of the music which drives things along. Power Over Me is as great a rock power ballad as you are going to hear, I’m Coming Home is a groovesome slice of polished rock and roll and Like A Shotgun even wanders down some reggae fusion pathways.

As a historical document, this first section of the planned sonic triptych is a worthy reminder of Chris Whites contribution to, and shaping of, the British music scene of the last 50 years, as a record to be played and enjoyed it is a fantastic blast through past glories and buried treasure. Time to dig up that treasure and let everyone appreciate its true value.

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