The British singer and guitarist Chris Thompson is best-known for his work with Manfred Mann's Earth Band (MMEB), but also for his solo accomplishments and the albums he made with his own band Night. Thompson was born on March 9, 1947 in Ashford, Kent, but he was raised in New Zealand. He went to Australia before returning to England in 1973 to pursue a musical career, eventually joining MMEB in 1976. After three years with MMEB, Thompson left in 1979 to form the Los Angeles-based outfit Night, which scored two hit singles. One of them, If You Remember Me, the theme song for Franco Zeffirelli' s remake of The Champ, was initially credited solely to Thompson, but later printings of the single were credited to Chris Thompson and Night. The eponymous debut album of Night was recently reissued.
After Night broke up in 1982, Thompson rejoined MMEB. In 1981, he released his debut album Out Of The Night, followed by several other solo albums. He has been a guest musician on albums of artists like Jeff Wayne's musical version of The War Of The Worlds, Alan Parsons Project, Jan Hammer, Steve Hackett, Bonnie Tyler, Don Airey, Mike Oldfield, and Sarah Brightman. He provided the backing vocals for the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and later on for Brian May (Queen), during his first solo concerts in South America 1992. As a songwriter, he had his greatest success being co-writer of John Farnham's single You're The Voice (1986).
Let me return to Night. The band released the albums Night (1979) and Long Distance (1981) before they disbanded. The debut album was produced by the world-famous record producer Richard Perry. It opens with Hot Summer Nights, a cover of a song by Walter Egan and a typical American sounding track. This kind of music was very popular in the eighties. It became a hit single sung by Stevie Lange, who together with Thompson did the lead vocals in the band. The other famous track he recorded for this album is If You Remember Me which was used as a part of the soundtrack of the film The Champ. This track became a hit single either and was promoted both on TV and in concert by Night. This time Chris did all the vocals himself.
The rest of the material on Night is a kind of mixture of soft ballads and more up-tempo tunes in the vein of the opening track. Two bonus tracks have also been included. One of the few highlights on this CD is the nice cover of Ain't That Peculiar that became famous by the American soul musician Marvin Gaye. Other band members at the time were keyboardist Nicky Hopkins, who worked among others with The Rolling Stones, and guitarist Robbie McIntosh, who subsequently played with The Pretenders, Paul McCartney and Nora Jones. Both musicians contribute to this album with some fine solos and riffs. After the band broke up Chris Thompson rejoined MMEB and returned to the more progressive rock orientated material.
Night contains rather mainstream music. The only reason for reviewing this album is due to the fact that Chris Thompson had a leading role in Night. However, it's no exception that artists who are related to progressive rock explore other musical genres as well.
** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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