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Family - Fearless CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.50 | 95 ratings

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3 stars While half of Mogul Thrash would reform as the Average White Band in the early seventies, John Wetton took a different route out of that group with a stint as yet another multi- instrumentalist for Family by replacing John Weider, who left to form Stud with Jim Cregan (Cregan would end up in Family himself by the time they recorded their final album). Otherwise the lineup is unchanged from their late 1970 release 'Anyway'.

This is arguably the band's 'bluesiest 'record, but also the most interesting album for the them since 'Music in a Doll's House' in 1968. That said, I'm not sure it's all that progressive but it still manages to expand at least a little on the instrumental experimentation and complex rhythmic arrangements that characterized some of their earliest and finest work. The guitar playing from Whitney and Wetton (and Chapman at times) is nearly all blues-based. But there are occasional funky riffs to break things up on songs like "Spanish Tide", which has just a bit of a Yes feel to it at times except without the exotic keyboards of Rick Wakeman or Anderson's voice (so maybe not as much like Yes as I thought when I started this sentence). Both Roger Chapman and Wetton sing, sometimes in unison, but the majority of vocal duties still fall to Chapman. His voice is a bit more restrained than on prior albums, but still quite distinctive and really helps to give the band its signature sound.

Like 'Anyway' and even more so 'It's Only a Movie', the album has its fair share of pedestrian filler as well, "Save Some for Thee" and the laconic "Children" being chief among those. And the band can't seem to avoid throwing in an unmanaged jam session as with so many of their other albums, "Take Your Partners" in this case.

Their fusion tendencies emerge from time to time, but sadly mostly on the shorter tunes like the instrumental "Crinkly Grin" and "Larf and Sing" with a bit of scat 'n chant singing along with a grooving riff from Whitney.

As with the other CD reissues this one has some bonus material, only one of which is very interesting. "In My Own Time" showcases the best days of Chapman's gruff vocals and gained the band a singles hit in 1971, while the B-side "Seasons" was appropriately relegated to the backside of that single.

This is a better album than anything that would follow, and honestly I'm not sure what happened to trigger the downward slide after this released. The band would tour the U.S. with Elton John a year later (with a much retooled lineup), but the end was already in sight and after another pair of lackluster studio releases the band called it quits.

This is a high three (out of five) star album, not quite four but I may rethink that at some point. It's definitely worth seeking out for Family fans, as well as for anyone curious about whatever it was that King Crimson heard in Wetton that appealed to them. For anyone else this is another faded and forgotten relic of the early seventies.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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