Chris Thompson | Jukebox: The Ultimate Collection – CD Review


Chris Thompson is known for his work as the lead vocalist and guitarist on many hits with Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, including “Blinded By The Light,” “For You” and “The Mighty Quinn,” as well as being a noted songwriter himself with hits across the globe. Jukebox: The Ultimate Collection is a 2015 remastered compilation of material from the man’s career, spanning Manfred Mann and beyond.

“Dark Side” is a good opener but with a more-than- banal lyric that really can’t be forgiven. “Father of the Day,” “Hot Summer Night” and a slinky drawn-out organ-led cover of Springsteen’s “Spirits In The Night” provide some spirited live moments. The cover of “For You,” the other Springsteen song, is a magical highlight with Thompson in lockstep with an enticing piano on a more subdued studio track.

Live and expansive, Manfred Mann “Martha’s Madman” has a mostly a straight ahead beat as Thompson handles all its twists and turns. The 50s styled “Eddie Wants To Rock” has Thompson’s hoarseness actually serving the song well, while Mavis Staples duets with Thompson on “The Fire.” An organ heavy live version of “The Mighty Quinn” features a decidedly heavier punch that the enthusiastic loudly clapping and singing audience seems to respond to even over Thompson not exactly making good vocally on the choruses.

“Land Of The Long White Cloud” from the Chris Thompson and Mads Eriksen Rediscovery album is a super spirited song with a distinctive opening riff, wailing organ and Thompson rapping. An updated version of “Blinded By The Light” is here, and Thompson wails away on Marius Müller’s beautiful ballad “Angel.” We also get “If You Remember Me,” Thompson’s piano ballad written for the remake of the movie The Champ.

The inclusion of “You’re The Voice,” co-written by Thompson and a huge hit for John Farnham, proves an interesting inclusion. Throughout the set, certainly in those live moments, you often hear Thompson’s voice striving to hit the note. Hearing his take on “You’re The Voice,” you are reminded of Farnham’s unreal soaring vocal. Thompson’s version, relying as it does on backing vocalists to deliver the refrain, still delivers, in maybe an even more down-to-earth soulful way simply because he does not have the pipes Farnham has. The universal solidarity message of the lyric comes across even better in a way. The remastered Jukebox: The Ultimate Collection sounds spectacular and covers a lot of Chris Thompson’s career. One spin and you won’t go away disappointed.

~ Ralph Greco

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