Chopyn were an English art-rock band that released the album Grand Slam on Jet Records in 1975. The band paired veteran jazz-rock guitarist Ray Russell with singer/songwriter Ann Odell.

Members: Denny McCaffrey (vocals), Simon Colclough (vocals), Clyde McMullen (bass, vocals), Ann Odell (keyboards, vocals), Simon Phillips (drums), Ray Russell (guitar, vocals, sitar)

Odell had released the lustrous 1973 album A Little Taste while notching credits on albums by Shawn Phillips, Harry Nilsson, and Roger Glover, among others. Hot on the heels of Running Man and Mouse, Chopyn marked Russell’s third rock-oriented one-off in as many years.

Coalescing around the backbeat of then-teenage drumming prodigy Simon Phillips, Chopyn secured a deal with Jet Records and released their lone album, Grand Slam (1975), which straddles space-age epicism with homier concerns over the course of 10 tracks.

Odell lithely sings of an interplanetary suitor on “Space Nativity,” which softly emerges as an ivory tapestry akin to a Debussy étude. Before long, ushering toms lift the proceedings to a swelling, luminous chorus framed by the tritone chordal combo of D-sharp and G. As the track advances, we learn that her alien romance was only a dream — or was it?

Selective use of sitar and Clavinet color the muted opening sequences of “Girl at the Top of the Stairs” as McCaffrey voices concern for a lonely subject — a preoccupation that turns manifest as the chorus erupts.

The closed-cadence verses of “Wasting Time” are framed by upper-chordal triads over an angular, syncopated bassline. Soon enough, the crackling sounds of the vibraslap trigger the open cadences of the chorus. A swell of synth sustains at the halfway-point precipitate a series of multi-vocal modulations that carry this track to its climax.

Other tracks stick with matters closest to home. McCaffrey copes with pre-show jitters on “Backstage” amidst the motivational drum-fills of Simon and the alternately layered/diffuse keyboards of Odell. Each vocalist addresses the woes of musician life on the snaky Rhodes/cowbell shuffle “Non-Commercial Blues,” while the consequences of on-the-road restlessness are tacked in the staccato barroom romp of “Insomniac Arrest.”

With high demand for their individual talents, the members of Chopyn were soon summoned to separate quarters. Odell concurrently appeared on recordings by Kokomo and Murray Head – whose poignant “Boy On the Bridge” is graced with her presence — and was heard thereafter with everyone from the Baker Gurvitz Army and Fox to Bryan Ferry and Jorge Ben.

Russell has continued to straddle musical worlds over the years, with appearances on albums by Frankie Miller, Judie Tzuke, Hudson-Ford, Harry Beckett, Mike Batt, and numerous others. In 1977, the guitarist flexed his instrumental side on the Blow by Blow/Wired-inspired release Ready or Not.


  • Grand Slam (1975)

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