Written by Bill Champlin & B.J. Cook
“There are many reasons why I loved working with Bill Champlin. We were more aligned musically than what it looked like on paper. Bill had a rawness that I didn’t have and I really loved that. To his great credit, he allowed me to get all my musical licks on tape but he never felt (I think) like he compromised. My sound was obviously slicker than his (that cool Bay Area raw rock and funk) but we met in the middle and I think the result was fantastic. He’s one hell of an artist, singer, musician and songwriter. He’s unique. Not many people are like that, for example I can’t really say that I am unique like he is!”
David Foster’s heartfelt words about his old pal were perfect to begin this new review about Bill Champlin’s Single. Released in 1978, Single was Champlin’s debut solo album after his decade of critically acclaimed work with The Sons Of Champlin in San Francisco. After The Sons Of Champlin went on hiatus, Champlin moved to Los Angeles and signed a solo deal with Full Moon/Epic. Champlin said he basically forced the label to accept David Foster to produce the record after the two met at a The Sons Of Champlin’s session a couple of years before. They had a mutual fan club; the bay-area singer/songwriter was struck by Foster’s superior musicality and creativity while Foster was wowed by Champlin’s vocal chops and songwriting abilities.
Single was one of Foster’s first productions, but the end result was truly fantastic in musicianship and sound. The album, a killer mix of pop, funk and R&B, didn’t sell much, but it became an all-time favorite among musicians and fans. Champlin recalled that the great Maurice White (1941-2016), who was working with Foster on Earth, Wind & Fire’s I Am and famously recorded “After The Love Is Gone” originally intended for Single, was so impressed by the rest of the material to ask the blue-eyed soul legend for a couple more tracks for White’s group. Champlin couldn’t accept the request, but it spoke volumes on the quality of his tracks.
These pages already saw reviews of Single‘s highlights including “We Both Tried,” “Fly With Me” and “Keys To The Kingdom,” but the album was chock-full of goodies. This week, the pick was a soulful mid-tempo titled “Careless.”
Co-written by Champlin with Foster’s first wife, the great B.J. Cook, “Careless” was a sultry gem with clever rhythm changes and tight musicianship. A nice touch was Michael McDonald’s guest appearance who, along with Carmen Twillie and Venetta Gloud, brought an intense gospel feel to the vocal harmonies. The basic track saw Champlin and Foster joined by Ray Parker, Jr. and his Raydio bandmates giving an end result of a total R&B party. Champlin was at the top of his game on Single and delivered one smash performance after another. “Careless” was no exception with Champlin’s outstanding work on the lead and backing vocals.
Let’s not forget that Single marked the first collaboration between Foster and Humberto Gatica. Gatica was another monster talent who was already showing the goods that will soon make him one of the world’s most respected studio engineers.
- Lead Vocals: Bill Champlin
- Keyboards: David Foster & Bill Champlin
- Bass: David Shields
- Drums: Larry Tolbert
- Guitar: Ray Parker, Jr.
- Percussion: Paulinho da Costa
- Background Vocals: Bill Champlin, Michael McDonald, Carmen Twillie & Venetta Gloud
- Strings Arranged by David Foster
- Arranged by David Foster & Bill Champlin
- Produced by David Foster