…At the time, it revitalized traditional folk ideals of social activism and the like, kick starting the PC revolution in the process, but if those were its only merits, Tracy Chapman would sound dated. The record continues to sound fresh because Chapman's writing is so keenly observed and her strong, gutsy singing makes each song sound intimate and immediate.
Originally recorded for Criminal Records in 1980, Looking for Eleven finds Rod Clements and Ray Laidlaw of Lindisfarne handling bass and drum duties, rather than Rick Kemp and Dave Mattacks. The resulting set has a somewhat stripped-down sound to it, though the assorted Chapman trademarks are present and accounted for, right down to the offbeat guitar sounds (Chapman, like John Martyn, has always refused to stick with a typical acoustic guitar sound). This album features more than the usual amount of instrumental work, which makes for a particularly engaging listening experience.
In 1989, Steps Ahead consisted of Mike Mainieri on MIDI vibraharp, synclavier and acoustic piano, the young saxophonist Bendik doubling on keyboards, guitarist Steve Kahn, Tony Levin on electric bass and Chapman stick, and drummer Steve Smith. The powerful band did not have a great deal of subtlety by this era, but it helped to keep the much-maligned genre of fusion alive, mixing the sound of rock with jazz improvising.
Roger Maxwell Chapman, also known as Chappo, is an English rock vocalist. He is best known as a member of the progressive rock band Family, which he joined along with Charlie Whitney, in 1966 and also the rock, R&B band Streetwalkers formed in 1974. His idiosyncratic brand of showmanship when performing and vocal vibrato led him to become a cult figure on the British rock scene.Chapman is claimed to have said that he was trying to sing like both Little Richard and his idol Ray Charles. Since the early 1980s he has spent much of his time in Germany and has made occasional appearances there and elsewhere. He was awarded an Artist of the Year award in 1980 for his vocals on Mike Oldfield's song "Shadow on the Wall". In 2004 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award.