Harry Chapin's last album "Sequel" plus two bonus tracks
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 06/10/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First off, this CD was released in 1987, six years after Harry Chapin's tragic death on the Long Island Expressway and not in 1971, which would have been a year before his first album "Heads & Tails" came out. This should be clear as soon as you see that the fourth track on the album is "Sequel," which was Chapin's last Top 40 hit in 1980. In fact, what we have here are the ten tracks from Boardwalk Records "Sequel," the last official Harry Chapin album and two previously unreleased tracks, "Hokey Pokey" and "Oh Man." Here is the track list for this album:1. Remember When the Music (3:50)
2. I Miss America (5:20)
3. Story of a Life (5:15)
4. Sequel (6:35)
5. Up on the Shelf (3:50)
6. Salt and Pepper (4:15)
7. God Babe, You've Been Good to Me (3:20)
8. Northwest 222 (3:45)
9. I Finally Found It Sandy (4:35)
10. Remember When the Music - Reprise (3:50)
11. Hokey Pokey (3:20)
12. Oh Man (4:05)For the original order on "Sequel" all you have to do is flip the first and fourth tracks (in other words, each CD begins with the title track). By either title Harry Chapin's album is his weakest and in retrospect there has been the explanation that his songwriting was taking a backseat to his charity work at this point in his career. It was only because of his death that Chapin was not front and center in the USA for Africa effort, because as Harry Belafonte usually makes a point of reminding us, Chapin was in the vanguard of the fight against hunger in the United States. "Sequel" is less than satisfying because there is something inherently wrong in going back and revisiting the characters in "Taxi." "Remember When the Music" is the best song on the album, and there are a couple of nice confessional-type songs in "God Babe, You've Been Good to Me" and "I Finally Found it Sandy." What is really missing from the album is one or two of those great story songs that Chapin excelled at. "Story of a Life" is the closest but is too removed from the subject (cf. "A Better Place to Be," "Mr. Tanner," or your own personal favorite). But this is still Harry Chapin's final album and that makes it a wortwhile pick up for his legion of fans."
Sequel or Remember When the Music
tom greene | West Oneonta NY | 06/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to disagree with Lawrence from Duluth. This is maybe my favorite album. Salt & Pepper & Up On the Shelf are two of my favorite songs. The more I hear Oh Man, the more I like it. There is not one weak song on this alblum, except maybe Northwest 222. Remember When the Music, Story of a Life, God Babe, You've Been Good to Me and Sequel are songs that have something to say, touched me in many ways and that was one of Harry's stong suits. It is hard to believe that in only 10 years, he put out so many albums. I was very fortuntate to have seen Harry seven times and I think about all of the music that we've missed and will never hear since his tragic death. No one touched me more than Harry Chapin in so many ways. He is sadly missed and the world was a better place because of him."
I Miss Harry Chapin...
Joel Lafferty | Maryland | 06/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was Harry's last studio album before his tragic death in 1981. I would disagree that it was a weak effort from Harry, I just believe that he did not have the time to fully integrate these songs into his live routine before he left us, so many of the fans have fonder memories of other songs.
I have a bit of a different perspective, as the first and only time I saw him I was as a 14-year-old kid in the year before he died. This album had just come out, and he was touring for it and World Hunger Year when a friend of mine won tickets on the radio and took me along. I didn't know many of his songs, so in the eye-opening wonder that was a Harry Chapin concert (captured very well in the two live albums "Greatest Stories Live" and "Legends of the Lost and Found") I heard him perform these songs live before I ever heard the studio versions.
The title song "Remember When the Music" (and the reprise) is outstanding, a melancholy look at the state of popular music at the time. Harry's story songs and protest anthems said something, spoke to people, and I think this was Harry's way of asking his generation that was still finding its way out of the funk of the disco era, hey, what has happened to us, don't we care anymore?
I was also glad to see that he had revisited the characters from "Taxi" in the song "Sequel". It provided a bit of closure both for them and for us when Harry left us so suddenly.
I was also glad to see a couple of songs that I believe were for his wife Sandy make the album and enter the lexicon of his work. "Finally Found It Sandy", "Northwest 222" and "God Babe" seem to be deeply personal, and I am hopeful that they are a comfort to her.
"Story of a Life" is also quite personal, and another song that eerily provides closure. It literally is the story of a life, which the character seems to be near the end of. It also is a bit of an homage to the woman in the character's life. One of my favorite all time favorite Harry Chapin songs.
"Salt and Pepper" and "Up On the Shelf" are both great songs as well, sing-along anthems if you will. The last two songs "Hokey Pokey" and "Oh Man" were not on the original album but were added to fill out the CD version. Both are okay, but not brilliant.
But I think the most powerful song on the album is "I Miss America". He presents three different scenarios regarding the American Dream turned tragic, but ends on an upbeat note for the future, and I think a fitting last word for Harry.
"Well, my little boy he told me something, Just the other night.
He whispered it as I kissed him, Before I turned out the light.
And of course he said it simple, As only children can
He said "Daddy, daddy, daddy, please...
I'm ready to dream again."