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Family - Family Entertainment CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.62 | 127 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Family's second album released a little more than half a year after their debut, and clearly demonstrated the band was not inclined to either rest on the laurels of their modest chart position nor repeat the same jazzy psych vibe of their first recordings. The result is an album that owes more to the blues heritage of rock music than their previous record did, but one that expands on the more folk-oriented themes hinted at on that album.

Despite the Doors rip-off cover, this is an innovative album with stronger lyrics, more experimentation with Eastern-tinged sounds and folk nuances, as well as considerably more acoustic instrumentation than what they had demonstrated to this point in their brief career.

The opening "The Weaver's Answer" is a classic folk tale of an old man facing death by reviewing his life through the mystic tapestry of "the weaver", presumably Death itself. Apparently this is a marquee song for the band back home, although I have no recollection of ever hearing it on radio here in the States.

"Observations from a Hill" is another one of those mildly bluesy and lightly psych poetic sort of tunes set to acoustic guitar and filled with lyrics vaguely meant to reveal some sort of epiphany about life or something. A decent tune but rather forgettable in the context of time. Roger Chapman's ragged vocals combined with a loping guitar riff bring things back into more familiar territory on "Hung Up Down", while "Summer 67" has a decidedly Eastern feel with strings (violin and cello as near as I can tell), Jim King's saxophone and I'm pretty sure a touch of sitar although uncredited as it was on the first album. "Face in the Cloud" is quite similar and here the sitar is unmistakable.

For me the sweet spot on the record comes with "How-Hi-the-Li", a highly acoustic number with mellow, jazzy snare drums, gorgeous violin work and Chapman's vocals toned down to an enchanting dull roar. This is a typical late-sixties tune with references to the dangers of dogmatic religions and politics. The saxophone/organ riffs will sound familiar to many music fans of that day, and in fact are quite similar to Chicago's "Wishing You Were Here" that released with 'Chicago VII' and became one of their biggest commercial hits.

Honestly I wish the album had ended there, since most of the rest of the album is a letdown in comparison. "Second Generation Woman" is the sort of blues boogie its title would suggest; "From Past Archives" comes off as more like circus music than serious progressive rock; and both "Dim" and "Processions" fail to take advantage of the considerable instrumental arsenal the band had at their disposal in the studio.

The closing "Emotions" manages to save the record, although just barely. Chapman's gruff vocals return here, and the handful of tempo changes while almost amateurish today were pretty heady stuff in 1969.

I kind of wish I had discovered this album years ago, but like most of the U.S. was largely unaware of the band until prog started to be rediscovered in the digital music age. The first CD reissue of the record came in 1987, although there is a remastered version available today that combines the band's first two albums along with some extended liner material. Mine is unfortunately the older See for Miles version picked up in a used record store and probably just a few more spins from being useless; the newer version is obviously better and probably more readily available today anyway.

Three stars out of five for the band's sophomore effort. A very decent album but not quite as distinctive and original as their first. The group had a lot more in them at this point though, as their next couple of releases would prove. Mildly recommended but not as much as anything else they released prior to 1973.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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