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Champion (UK) - 1978 Champion

ARTIST: Champion (UK)
ALBUM: Champion
SERIAL: PE 35438
YEAR: 1978


LINEUP: Garry Bell - lead vocals, guitar * Clem Clempson - guitar, dobro, banjo, background vocals * Damon Butcher - keyboards * Willie Bath - bass, background vocals * Geoff Britton - drums, percussion * Jeff Rich - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Sha-La-La * 02 It's Your Life * 03 Melissa * 04 Sweet Mystery * 05 You Knock Me Out * 06 Book Him Dano * 07 Skinny Dippin' * 08 Straight Talking * 09 Please Go Away * 10 Say Goodnight

In the immortal words of Genesis, `More Fool Me'! I have had this record for years and until recently never drew a connection to Rough Diamond, a band whose sole release I reviewed here at GD a while back, wondering if the band recorded a second set of tunes which it seems this album by Champion was; minus of course the talented and much missed David Byron. With Byron gone, vocalist Garry Bell (who?) was brought in, eventually ousting drummer Geoff Britton replaced by Climax Blues Band and Status Quo - Jeff Rich. New line-up complete, record deal at hand did Champion deliver the goods?

The Songs
Yes and no. Produced by Gary Lyons who was riding a wave of success with Foreigner, Wet Willie, Trillion and Crawler, Champion offer up a blues rock sound not far removed Bad Company or Paul Kossoff's Backstreet Crawler and really not that different than Rough Diamond. These are seasoned players all and it's a fun listen once in a while with `Sha-La-La' and its honky-tonk piano ala REO Speedwagon and memorable chorus a stand out as well as the ballad `Melissa' and the playful `Sweet Mystery', but unfortunately there is a `sameness' to much of the material that even the best of players couldn't gloss over.

In Summary
I find promotional copies of this record with that annoying `Epic Records / Demonstration/ Not For Sale/ Suggested Cuts' white strip all the time, so if you are in need of a copy, it shouldn't be too hard to find. I don't remember any radio stations playing this, at least in the New York area and I don't recall the band touring in support of LP which leads me to believe the album got lost in the shuffle at Epic HQ, like so many that came before Champion, and after.

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#1 | super80boy on February 23 2013 23:28:23
I did a blind buy on this year ago. I remember the first side had some decent tunes on it, but that cover art is very eye catching.

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