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Initially formed in early 1974 as post-FAMILY act, Chapman-Whitney (by singer Roger and guitarist Charlie, respectively), STREETWALKERS were competent if not stunning in the quest for groups to break free from their prog-rock shackles. Together with ex-JEFF BECK GROUP guitar man Bobby Tench, former FAMILY escapees Ric Grech, John Wetton, Poli Palmer and Jim Cregan, plus KING CRIMSON alumni Ian Wallace (drums) and Mel Collins (sax and flute), the eponymous STREETWALKERS (1974) {*4} was unleashed. The mediocre debut demonstrated Chapman’s gravel glut (at times!), but the breadth between their broody ballads and raunchy rockers were posted miles from their FAMILY home; one could check out `Creature Feature’, `Hangman’ and the funk-driven `Parisienne High Heels’ – my, doesn’t Roger sound a bit JOE COCKER or KEVIN COYNE?
Released as their first bona fide STREETWALKERS set, DOWNTOWN FLYERS (1975) {*6} was a marked improvement; the former FAMILY pairing (and Tench) now dispensing with their KING CRIMSON buddies and settling for the rhythm section of Jonathan Plotel (who replaced short-term Phil Chen) and Nicko McBain. Banter blues was dished out by way of `Toenail Draggin’’ and the excellent `Raingame’, while a token cover was delivered in Fred Wise’s, ROBIN TROWER-like `Crawfish’.
Significant for its red-vinyl LP promotional format, Top 20 entry RED CARD (1976) {*7}, was Chapman and Whitney’s one last stab at breaking back into rock’s premier division. Complemented by the ferocious, barrelhouse funk of `Me An’ Me Horse An’ Me Rum’ and other such ditties as `Run For Cover’, `Crazy Charade’, `Roll Up, Roll Up’ and a croaky re-vamp of `Daddy Rollin’ Stone’, one could just about see the groovy group grab a piece of the action. With yet more personnel coming and goings, the original three were joined by Micky Feat (bass), David Dowle (drums) and Brian Johnson (keyboards); McBain joined PAT TRAVERS and later IRON MAIDEN. Pity then, that the fresh line-up was pursued by two LPs of limited quality: VICIOUS BUT FAIR (1977) {*4} and the double-disc concert retrospective, LIVE (1977) {*4}. At a time when punk and new wave were rife with and filled with raw excitement, STREETWALKERS, were er… caught with their pants around their pictorial stilettos (album shots were always a bit S&M).
ROGER CHAPMAN would find grace and solace in a brace of solo LPs that kicked off with 1979’s `Chappo’.
© MCS Aug2012

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