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Family - Family Entertainment CD (album) cover

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT

Family

 

Eclectic Prog

3.51 | 97 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Weaver of life let me look and see, the pattern of my life gone by shown on your tapestry

Let's be clear up front, this album is absolutely essential. Why? Because it includes the unbelievably magnificent "The weaver's answer". This song is one of those masterpieces which comes along only when the planets are correctly aligned and a flash of inspiration is sent from the heavens. The song is perfect in lyric, melody and performance. It builds through Roger Chapman's inspired vocal and some superb violin to a climactic and dramatic conclusion. It is, to put it simply one of the finest pieces of music ever recorded.

I'd love to just stop the review at this point and put up a five star rating, but this is an 11 track album. Much has been said about the production of "Family entertainment", the band's second album, over the years and it is true that there are deficiencies in that department. That however should not blind us to some highly enjoyable material.

"Observations from a hill" is clearly not sung by Chapman, but the credits are unclear as to who the vocalist is. Following "The weaver's answer" is going to make any song sound inferior, but "Observations.." is a rather prosaic number all the same. "Hung up down" is a stronger, more conventional Family song, with a fine performance by Chapman.

"Summer '67" is a Charlie Whitney instrumental with an eastern flavour, reflecting the mood of that period. It makes for a pleasant interlude piece. "How-hi-the-Li" is a politically charged song focusing on China and the East, with rather uninspired lyrics such as "We only wanna break the chain of society. Put the people back on the road to reality. We only wanna turn the whole world on." "Second generation woman" sounds completely out of place, not just on this album, but in the Family catalogue as a whole. The song is a Beatles style rock and roll number, perhaps with singles potential. Rick Grech takes lead vocal and adds some violin too, but while the song is a credible piece of pop, it just does not fit at all here. Fortunately, normal service is resumed with the quivering vocal of Roger Chapman on "From past archives" which features a bizarre mix of harmonica, bar-room piano, clarinet, orchestration and Harpsichord. It is about 15 songs in 3 minutes!

"Dim" also features harmonica, but in a lighter semi-country atmosphere. "Processions" has a retro 60's pop feel, the reflections of boyhood conjuring up nostalgic images. Had this been recorded in the mid 1960's, it would probably have found its way into the pop charts. The sitar based Rick Grech song "Face in the cloud" features a lead vocal by him. Why the band should insist on sharing out the vocal credits when they have in their line up the incredible and unique talents of Chapman is something of an enigma. Perhaps it was a futile attempt to prevent Grech from moving on to Blind Faith, something he announced would do before the tour to promote the album had started.

The closing "Emotions" is an atmospheric song with a strong arrangement. That arrangement in many ways carries the song, which is melodically average.

"Family entertainment" is far from being a one song album. While "Weaver's answer" is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown, it is supported by a creditable range of decent songs. The progressive influences are largely kept in check in favour of a more pop orientated feel, but the diversity of the content more than compensates for this.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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