Album review: CHRIS THOMPSON – Toys & Dishes

Chris Thompson - Toys & Dishes

Esoteric Antenna [Release date 17.03.14]

Chris Thompson was very much “the voice” of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band during their most successful period in the late-1970s/early-1980s.  In the past decade he decamped to Germany, gigging on the continent and with the Norwegian Mads Eriksen, and has retained a relatively low solo profile although continuing as a successful songwriter and a featured vocalist in the touring version of ‘War Of The Worlds’.  Why he never achieved the post-seventies solo success of someone like Paul Carrack we can only ponder.

In 2012 there was the release of a somewhat patchy and badly presented  live CD/DVD set and a set of big band jazz.   Now, over a decade after his previous “rock” solo offering (2001′s ‘Won’t Lie Down’), he re-emerges with an album that should hit the mark with his core fanbase.  If there are perhaps one or two too many fairly ordinary workouts, ‘Toys & Dishes’ is lifted by Thompson’s still distinctive vocals and a sprinkling of decent tunes.

Listeners will hear echoes of his earlier incarnation on ‘Dark Side’ whilst ‘Millie Christine’, ‘Hey You!’ and ‘Talk To Me’ repay repeated listens.  And apart from ‘We Run’, when Thompson seems to have suddenly moved things up a notch with just one track to go, it’s safe and not too demanding.  ***1/2

Review by David Randall

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