If previous albums in this series have deftly displayed Chris White‘s prowess as a song-writer, collaborator and musician, this fifth volume focuses on his abilities as a producer. With songs drawn from a nearly forty year span, it features songs where he has sat in the producers chair, many of which he also co-wrote, played on or both.
The earliest offering is Free Ferry’s Magic carpet Ride, a typically smooth slice of flower power pop, but one filled with confident grooves and strident beats, the perfect blend of the vibe of the times but also an indication of the more rock and roll ethic which often drove his work. Such as on Death of A Rock and Roll Star, a track which comes with the echo of Bowie running through it, but then in 1974 what smart musician wasn’t going to find themselves drawn to his sound and style in some small way.
From around the same time, Sparrow bring us Take It Easy, a quality blend of folky sheens and progressive turns, and a way with voice and harmonies that pre-dates E.L.O.s heyday later in the decade, which employed similar layered and interlinked vocal treatments. Love Song, sees White turn his hand to something soulful and bluesy, understated and love lorn for Duffy Power, a song featuring the not inconsequential talents of Rod Argent with a glorious piano solo and folk hero Danny Thompson on double bass, and regular musical ally Colin Blunstone also shows us his delicate touch and restrained approach on When I Was Alone.
More recent selections also show White’s ability to move perfectly with the times, Chocolate Cake providing neat blends of synth washes and bass pulses for John Verity in 1994 and Bianca Kinane’s Rain, a gorgeous and spacious piece of poised pop which would fit neatly into the charts today without anyone raising an eyebrow.
Being that I am writing this sat in an office in Swindon, I have to mention the gloriously upbeat piece of R&B he produced for Diana Does in 1978, Security, this towns only real sex symbol, unless you count Brunel or XTC, and I don’t. Cool, energetic and infectious, much like the woman herself.
It’s a glorious and eclectic album, one that perfectly reflects the imagination and talents of the man himself. Even on its own, it is a testament to his contribution to popular music over the last fifty years. The fact that this is volume five of such a showcase series, shows just how vital that contribution has been.