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Family - Anyway CD (album) cover

ANYWAY

Family

 

Eclectic Prog

3.37 | 92 ratings

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Groucho Barks
4 stars Chappo eh? Roger of the razor blade vibrato voice. A unique instrument. Harder edged and more menacing than the only comparisons I can think of....those being Geddy Lee and David Surkamp of Pavlovs Dog. One of several features that took Family somewhat out of the narrower burgeoning then (1970) prog scene! So what did we get with their fourth album..released in November 1970 and which eventually made #7 in the UK album charts? Well we got a half live, half studio set (4 tracks per side )* which had the band displaying all facets of their musical development. The live side (one) was recorded at the Fairfield Halls in Croyden the previous July. It starts off with the blistering 'Good News Bad News' , Chapmans searing voice over a heavy riff that King Crimson would have been proud to own and is 8 mins plus of staccato menace...you can picture Rog at his trademark tambourine destruction best. The more mellow 'Willow Tree' follows, a song that still had some backwash from the bands earlier psych roots and is a good counter point to the opening number. After this comes the acoustic rollicking 'Holding The Compass' which I venture to suggest Peter Gabriel deep mined for 'Salisbury Hill' and is one of several tracks that echo the yet to come Italian prog scene. Then on to 'Strange Band' which is more of a companion piece to the opener, with the violin making King Crimson comparisons more apt. The unruly gallop of the songs middle is barely contained yet is corralled in for a tight ending. Side 2 opens with 'Part Of The Load' which has a sudden funky bass riff as the anchor for what I assume was a deliberately slightly out of sync double vocal track...Chapman almost echoing himself to good effect....and highlights a typical Family construction, that of angular and argumentative verses and bridges that move in to very melodic and all but catchy (gulp!) chorus hooks. The title track follows with an acoustic /mellotron base and a plaintive vocal and echoing percussion build it in to something that you would hear time and again from bands such as Banco and the Italian scene. 'Normans' is a strange one. An instrumental that appears to follow the trait of many bands of the time and picks up on an almost music hall lilt and has a melancholic tone that doesnt outstay its welcome. Finally the 6 min plus 'Lives and Ladies', a powerful anti war song that the sainted John Peel played often. It contrasts the by now familiar acoustic stylings (a la Italian prog) with a keening electric lead wail....infact this is one of very few Family tracks to feature a Charlie Whitney guitar solo...he wasnt really that kind of upfront player...but here it works just fine if closer to blues rock than out and out prog. All in all an album that captures the eclectic yet powerful band at close to their best. It may be prog Jim, but not quite as we thought we knew it in 1970!

* I had the US version which put the single In My Own Time at the start of the studio side.

Groucho Barks | 4/5 |

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