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Family - Music In A Doll's House CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.97 | 167 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
5 stars The Moody Blues have “Nights in White Satin.” Procol Harum have “Whiter Shade of Pale,” but are quite less remembered. Pity that; they’re a much better band.

Wait, this is a Family review, ain’t it? What does Family got? Uh...”The Weaver’s Answer?” Try looking for that through your local ringtones. Ain’t on Verizon, that’s for sure, and that’s a real pity. Family were actually a really, really good band, and highly capable of making good music. I have no idea of why they have been cast aside; their debut album (which is technically flawless, by the way), is a hell of a trip, released when hell of a trip albums were in vogue.

Opener “The Chase” is a surprisingly catchy anthem for the album. For something so short, the instrumental sections (just bits really), are surprisingly well thought out. Cool speeding up section at the end. “Mellowing Grey” is a good little bombastic ballad. The use mellotron and the strings gives it that whole Moody Blues feel.

“Never Like This” opens with one hell of a catchy harmonica riff, and then transforms into a folksy, organ backed rocker. Very nice, especially the chorus. The occasional lack of attention to rhyme is also kinda fun. “Me My Friends” has that very stately, medieval opening, and a very stately, medieval verse, but when Cappo picks up the chorus? Fantastic. “Variation on a Theme of Hey Mr. Policeman” is exactly what it sounds like. Short and cool.

“Winter” is a piano led ballad. It’s a little heavier than “Mellowing Grey,” but still quite good. “Old Songs for New Songs” has a quiet false opening, then it transforms into an energetic blues piece. But it has one more transformation to go: what’s with that freaky falsetto chorus? Not to mention that it breakdowns to an equally energetic guitar/sax/harmonica jam at the end. Another short, short instrumental: “Variations on a Theme of the Breeze”

Doll’s House is like Aqualung or Procol Harum in its ability to piss me off with the collection of near flawless tune that makes it hard to choose a best song. In the end, I pick “Hey Mr. Policeman.” Not because it’s the strongest piece on the album, there are too many candidates, but because it happens to be one of the most memorable. It’s a blooz bit that manages to be both dirty and subtle (sax ‘n Chappo respectively), and the violin lines are flawless.

Almost Eastern themed rocker “See Through Windows” is actually really, really good. For one thing, another catchy harmonica riff. Pretty cool drumming too, and pay attention to that middle part where everything falls away but the harmonica playing that riff, and the drums and bass come in on the alternative beats (you’ll know what I’m talking about). I know that’s more standard these days, but c’mon! Who the crap was doing that at the time?!? “Variations on a Theme of Me my Friend” is the only one that sounds utterly different; stoopid sitar.

“Peace of Mind” is a screwed rocker? That’s probably both a really bad, and the best possible description I can come up with. God I love Family. Nice use of violin. We slide seamlessly into “Voyage,” which is, quite possibly, even more screwed up. I guess it’s psychedelia. The mood is unsettling, and the saxes are nearly Crimsonian on that one. Of course, the weird sound effects part might get on your nerves. This eventually leads to “The Breeze,” a startlingly quiet ballad. The chorus is cool, but it’s not quite as nice as “Grey” or “Winter.”

Ah, the finisher. “3 X Time” has a very lovely, medieval styled opening. But then that steady drum attack leads us into...a kazoo led marching band! Then it becomes some bloozy, familiar sounding instrumentation, and then...marching band again! Holy crap, yes! This song is awesome. Dig the ending, by the way. Hilarious.

Now, let’s face it, these guys coulda blowed the Moody Blues out of the water if they’d wanted to take the whole art pop route. Like the Moodies, they have an uncanny sense of making intelligent, but catchy, melodies. However, unlike the Moodies, they are a far more diverse and interesting set of musicians. Oh well, Family was still too weird for the art pop route I reckon. Can you imagine “Goat Man” Chappo singing “Nights in White Satin?” I can, but it’s a little...different...

Simply put, this album is Days of Future Passed with balls. Days has the edge with the whole endless beauty thing, but this album has a sense of humor and killer musicians to boot; the jam at the end of “Old Songs for New Songs” should prove that. Pay attention to ALL the instruments, from guitar to drums, and you’ll see what I mean. Plus, Doll’s House is more “experimental” too! The Moodies never screwed around with bizarre sound effects passages, or the left and right channels like these lads do.

Another thing, this album is much more varietous than it seems on the first listen. Blues, eastern themes, country, hard rock, balladeering folk, it’s all there. It’s just a little...twisted. And, as much as I love ‘em, Family are NOT for everyone. Stomaching the screwed up music is fun enough, but if you can’t sit through Chappo’s vocals on “Me My Friends,” you might as well get your money back.

But if you CAN sit through the twisted tunes and the venomous vocals, you’re in! Dude, this is, like, a forgotten masterpiece of the genre! What genre you ask? I have no idea! I guess something like art rock is vague enough to cover an album as vague as this.

Oh well, I’m rambling. Point is, this sucker is almost flawless. What brings it down that quarter of a half of a point? I can hardly put my finger on it myself. Heh. I guess it just needed “The Weaver’s Answer” on it...

The Whistler | 5/5 |


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