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The Sons of Champlin: Welcome to the Dance/The Sons of Champlin/A Circle Filled with Love/Loving Is Why

Album Notes

BGO's 2015 double-disc set combines the four albums the Sons of Champlin released on Columbia/Ariola in the mid-and late '70s: 1973's Welcome to the Dance, 1975's The Sons of Champlin, 1976's A Circle Filled with Love, and 1977's Loving Is Why. With the switch of label came a switch in sound, with the band emphasizing a slick pop-R&B soul pitched somewhere between Chicago and their fellow Bay Area blue-eyed soul singer Boz Scaggs. It was a very commercial sound that didn't pay off many commercial dividends: none of the albums cracked Billboard's Top 100, with A Circle Filled with Love coming the closest with a peak at 117 thanks to the near-Top 40 hit "Hold On." Nevertheless, the fact that the later albums in this set performed better than the earlier ones suggests how the band sharpened its pop attack during this period -- indeed, Welcome to the Dance contains a 12-minute suite, while the eponymous record has some fusion interludes, highlighted by "Planet Ripper" -- and indeed it's the last two records in this set that are the most enjoyable, capturing a better blend of immaculately smooth surfaces, tight in-the-pocket grooves, and melodies that aren't bad. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine


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