Today, if everything goes to plan, I will probably be in Copenhagen checking out some music there, before heading into Sweden and eventually Stockholm towards the weekend to do the same there. I will indulge myself on my summer vacation and hopefully the readers of this blog will do the same.
Now… indulge yourselves in this fine article about that great songwriting duo of the 70s.
A chat with Chinn about Chapman
By Pete Makowski
Nicholas Chinn and Michael Chapman are a writing force who have collectively contributed an indelible mark on the British charts.
Whether you consider them to be a valid entity or not, Chinn and Chapman`s success is as prominent as a boil on the arse – and to some people equally painful. They may not be a Lennon and McCartney or Lieber and Stoller but you can`t deny that things just haven`t been the same since Sweet released `Funny Funny`.
That fat and meaty treatment of bass and drums has become inherent in a lot of current chart stars` platters.
Chinn: “Sometimes I think it`s better to start a trend rather than follow one.”
Their versatility has been demonstrated with the gentle, almost humorous `Lonely This Christmas` to hard edged attacking style of the Sweet`s `Blockbuster`.
Nicky Chinn, like his Mayfair apartment, is a self contained man who seems to have settled into his playboy settings very comfortably. His domain is impeccably clean and tidy. His book collection ranges from prose and poetry to Harold Robbins. A soft spoken, composed but concise person, Chinn has the voice of an archetypal BBC DJ and the appearance of a Knightsbridge barber.
Recently the Chinnichap stable has suffered a few drastic changes; the loss of their two most powerful products Sweet and Mud. Up to now those bands seem unaffected by the loss of their hitwriters. The backstabbing accusations about C&C`s over dominative stranglehold on their acts must be counteracted by the fact that if C&C weren`t there in the first place the acts might not have got as far as they did.
I asked Chinn what he thought about the backstabbing comments that have been made about him and his writing partner.
“What do I think about it? I think it`s… bullshit, ingratitude, stupidity and biting the hand that has fed you and I would not condone it in any way, shape or form. I don`t think we have ever made biting comments about the band`s who have left us. We wouldn`t because the reason we were involved with them in the first place is because we thought they were good and talented.
“If they leave us and they feel fit to make stabbing comments then all I can say, without mentioning any names, is that they`re a bunch of mugs. That isn`t to say they`re untalented, but even the biggest talent in the world needs to be found by somebody.
“We needed to be found by Mickie Most… maybe we`d still be playing Scunthorpe if it wasn`t for Mickie. Surely the band`s we were associated with must realise we had something to do with them, they can`t say we`re a bunch of louts.”
Even before songwriting, Chinn was earning a healthy wage in his family`s car firm. It was in `69 that Chinn met Chapman, a musician, working in a restaurant as a waiter. They seemed to gell as songwriters from the start. They decided to unleash their talents to all via the help of Mickie Most.
“I met Mickie by `phoning him at home one evening and saying `me and my partner are songwriters and we`ve got something to offer`, recalled Chinn, “that was a terrible liberty I`m sure, and Mickie being the absolute professional he is came back with the classic answer `how would 11.30 in the morning suit you?`”
The rest, as Chinn points out, is history.
An assessment of Most?
Being a sharp observer of the music scene I asked Chinn what he thought of the current state of the singles charts.
“Crummy… lacks direction. The public don`t know what they want next, if they like it they buy it. The Americans know what they`re doing, they always have good follow up singles.
“In America, for better or worse, they have a racial split. The black people buy things like Barry White, while the white people buy things like Grand Funk. It`s not the same here, thank God. You can get a person buying a Barry White single one day and a Mud single the next.”
America is the next market C&C hope to take over. Chinn: “We`ve conquered just about everywhere else”.
They are currently tailoring two more sophisticated bands – Smokey and Gonzales, Suzi Quatro is getting a change of direction for Stateside success so I asked him the process of transition – and why.
“The process and reason for change are simple. It becomes a matter of judgement. You have a series of smash hit records and million sellers around the world and you realise that none of them have done anything in America. From there it becomes a process of elimination and judgement and what you would think would be better for the artist… we haven`t been proved right yet but we haven`t been proved wrong… it`s happening at the moment.”
So you feel you have a good chance of cracking the States?
“Completely. We`ll do it through good music, being professional and having our heads screwed on. Knowing where we want to go and getting there. I think we can compete with the Americans all day long if we want to `cause we`re as good.”
Finally I pondered on the team`s almost enigmatic Midas touch for hits. I mean, Chinn admitted he knew exactly how big Mud`s Christmas single would be, right down to the chart position, now that`s what I call confidence!
“It`s a great feeling. But you never really know it`s going in the charts. I could make a record tomorrow and I could say it`s a great record and the people in the business can agree but the final analysis, the final proof is when the public get hold of it and put it in the charts.”