You may not be familiar with who Bill Champlin, but I bet you have heard him many times before. He was the founder of the late 60’s band Sons Of Champlin</a (later shortening their name to The Sons), who were signed to Columbia. He put the group on hiatus, made an attempt at a solo career but for the last 18 years most were exposed to him as a member of Chicago, where he was featured in such songs as “Hard Habit To Break”, “Will You Still Love Me”, “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love”, and “Look Away”, the latter with Champlin taking the sole lead vocal.
Even when he was with Chicago (him and Chicago recently parted ways), he continued to release solo material to share the inner voice that he had not been able to do so within the context of Chicago. No Place Left To Fall (DreamMakers Music) shows the mixture of his influences, from blues, rock, and country, to a songwriting craft that has beem a major factor in all of his music in the last 40 years. For this album he plays something that seems a bit more rootsier than the sound Chicago had become known for, in fact one can easily see him jamming with Bonnie Raitt, Boz Scaggs, or popping in with any jam band from the Bay Area to Nashville, and he could fit in perfectly. “Lover Like That” could easily be mistaken for a Bee Gees, George Michael, or Richard Marx song, so the material could find its way onto adult contemporary radio as it could on a classic rock station. The song that may gain a lot of airplay is “Never Been Afraid”, a duet with former Chicago member Peter Cetera. (Chicago fans will also be happy to know that Cetera and Robert Lamm have been writing material too, although not within the context of Chicago.)
If you were a fan of his through Chicago, those touches he shared with the band are all here (he even revisits “Look Away”). If you like the more rough and rugged side of Champlin, that’s here too. He also throws in some new elements too. No Place Left To fall may have been a title that was pre-determined by some kind of cosmic trippiness, for now he has nowhere to go but forward. With this album, talents, and capabilities, Champlin has no reason to fall or fail. Job well done.