Having been a Smokie fan since the 70s I have not always found Chris Norman's solo albums to be of a consistent standard since he left the group. There are usually 3 or 4 excellent songs on Chris' albums, but the rest, although well produced and enjoyable, aren't as memorable as when he was writing and performing with Smokie.
Maybe I'm being too harsh, and maybe Chris Norman didn't and doesn't want to re-create the "Smokie sound" too much on his solo material, although who am I to judge as Chris has carved out a remarkable,consistent and successful solo career throughout Europe.
Moving on to his latest offering, "There and Back", I do have to say that this his probably his best solo album to date. Chris' voice still sounds superb, the production is excellent and the songs have an incredible energy driven by a great set of musicians. Ok, some songs are derivative of other styles and artists, but that doesn't distract from what is a great hard pop with a little bit of rock album (very difficult to define the actual style, which isn't a bad thing!)
The more I've played this album, the more I've enjoyed it and some of the songs like "Did The Monkeys Take Over The Zoo", "My Jenny", "Whisky And Water" have all been buzzing round my head.
Although "There And Back" will be enjoyed by hardcore Smokie fans it is definitely in Chris' style rather than his former band's. About five years ago Alan Silson (Smokie's original lead guitarist) released an excellent solo album "Solitary Bird" which is truer to Smokie's original sound and style which you may prefer. However, "There And Back" is a great album from one of the distinctive (and under-rated) voices of rock and pop.