Michael Chapman

Fully Qualified Survivor

Light in the Attic

Mar 22, 2011 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Michael Chapman's Fully Qualified Survivor was originally released in 1970 on EMI's Harvest imprint, home to Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, and Electric Light Orchestra. Rather than full-blown rock, Chapman's work lies much closer to Harvest's other musical dissidents: Syd Barrett, Roy Wood, Kevin Ayers, and, most notably, Roy Harper. Chapman recorded four albums for Harvest between 1968 and 1972, and Fully Qualified Survivor remains the classic and the best example of the artist.

Recorded in four days on an 8-track, the album has been rereleased in the U.K. and Europe many times over the past 40 years, but this is the first time it has been released by a U.S. label on CD and it is the first vinyl reissue anywhere in decades. Chapman stands out among stoner folk rock contemporaries for his remarkably pure guitar work. His playing has an individual voice, inventive and laid back without being lazy. It also doesn't hurt that a pre-Bowie Mick Ronson is slobbering electric guitar all over the album.

"Postcards of Scarborough" was the standout track in its day and remains a psych guitar folk masterpiece. Nine-plus minute opener "Aviator" is notable for its rambling pastoral lyrics; it could easily have fit in on Bob Dylan's Desire. The title track displays Ronson's guitar work in all its sometimes excessive glory. The missteps of the album appear on the shorter tracks, "Naked Ladies and Electric Ragtime," "Fishbeard Sunset," and "Andru's Easy Rider." While all three contain some magnificent guitar work, they are departures from what is otherwise an incredibly cohesive and great album. (www.lightintheattic.net)

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