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ANYWAY

Family

Eclectic Prog


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4 stars For many years the legend of the great British Art-rock band Family was based on on solid albums, but much of the warranted praise really was due to the band's live prowess. Lead singer Roger Chapman usually was a cite to behold, filled with bodily contortions, seemed more seizure-like, but yet the the great frontman's ability to get the song accross never wavered. On the Family's fourth album, Anyway the band put together a half live half studio effort which seemed more haphazard in its effort, as the the live side featured four songs recorded at the Fairfield Concert Hall in London (but the songs were poorly recorded due to Family's record label giving them the OK to record the concert hours before, so the sound recording was actually being set-up as the patrons were walking in the hall!). The songs on the first half netherless (despite the treble-ly sound) only hinted how powerful this band was at the peak during a live setting. Sadly, the visual side was not captured of this tour, but yet hinted on the last track "Strange Band" which the song comes to an apocalyptical ending with Roger Chapman throwing down his mike causing the audience to cheer frantically.

The second half of Anyway, were studio tracks written during a sabbatical from touring showing the band inbetween in their musical direction, The title track and the instrumental "Normans" date back to the experimental psychedlic era of the Family's first two albums, and the remaining tracks a precurser to Family's greatness to come on "Fearless" and "Bandstand". The track "Lives and Ladies", for Charlie Whitney's guitar solo, is worth this CD's price.

Charles

Report this review (#61910)
Posted Tuesday, December 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars As strange as it may seem, Family never recorded a full live album even though the main force of the band was its live performance with vocalist Chapman as one of the wildest frontman around. Countless tambourines and mike stands were completely destroyed/massacred on stage by this maniac singer. Anyway - which is a half live, half studio album - is the closest a fan could get an idea of how they were on stage without going to the concerts. However the live tracks (concentrated on the first side of the vinyl) were originals and just written (prior to this album, they tested the future studio tracks live in concert) and therefore comparisons were hard to make.

The first live side starts out well enough with an epic Good News (with its crunchy Zeppelin-esque power chords) and a subtle Willow Tree (not well recorded enough though), but the almost country-esque Holding The Compass and the noisy, brutal, savage but aptly titled (and successful since it became a hit) Strange Band makes is mixed bag affair. On the studio side, Part Of The Load (about boredom of life on the road) is a rather good track, but the live version added as a bonus track (almost double the length of the original) lets us see the full potency of the composition, while the title track has some superb percussions to accompany this mid tempo track. The instrumetal Normans has that already-heard feeling from somewhere I never was able to identify but years later, the feeling pervades and the overly present and irritating violin does nothing to dispel my unease. Lives And Ladies is another track that gained everything to be played in concert, as the bonus track will show, as the studio version is rather average (even if Chapman sounds like Cat Stevens).

Overall this anyway album is yet another good Family album right on par with the previous Song, Entertainment and Fearless, but by no means are they essential for progheads. But this album does gain from having the bonus live tracks.

This album remains the only live temoignage of theirs (if you also do not count the bonus live tracks on Cd reissues) while they were active. There are apparently two live BBC recordings records made available during the 90's, but I never saw them in the shops.

Report this review (#73752)
Posted Saturday, April 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars One of the most underrated bands from the old school, strange because they've done some incredible albums in the late '60 and early '70's. They never reached the vame like others bands from that period, trying to survive in the shadow of big names, they are not even in the same pantheon with Van Der Graaf Generator, it's a shame. With all that they recorded at least 4 classics (first 4) and essential albums for every serious listner. One of them is Anyway, this album is one of my favourite albums of all time. Explaining why, because i really love the voice of Roger Chapman, his unique way and manner of interpretation. This album is divided in two the first 4 pieces are recorded live in 1970 at Fairfield Halls and the second haf in Olympic Studios same year. Family never recorded a full live album even though the main force of the band was its live performance with vocalist Chapman as one of the wildest frontman around, so they did a mixt album of studio/live. The pieces are unique to me, and give me goose bumps every time i listen to this band and specially this album. The best pieces are Holding the compass, Willow tree, Strange band and Part of the load. So a big 4 stars for this one, essential to my collection and maybe for some of you. Many of the conoseurs of prog stay away from this band because of Roger Chapman's voice, strange but very unique. And the cover is a damn good one and among the finest i ever saw in prog, good chooice, is entitled Mortars with Explosive Projectiles by Leonardo Da Vinci. Recommended.
Report this review (#154823)
Posted Sunday, December 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Whistler
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A weird album, even by Family's standards. The first half is totally live, all new songs, only played live. The second side, new studio material. As a result, this is...what, a Living in the Past/Ummagumma type experiment? I dunno. Point is, the live side, while far from flawless, is pretty fantastic and a wonderful example of how Family played on stage. The second side is a little more hit and miss, but still, each side opens with powerhouse numbers, and that alone makes it a necessary album for anyone receptive to Family's brand of art rock insanity.

The opener, live side, "Good News, Bad News" is easily the best song on the album, and a downright Family classic to boot. Devilish quiet section, headbangin' loud, framed with some cool riffage. Yeah! But the best comes from the middle of the song, with some extensive vibraphone and guitar soloing, gelling onstage as only Family can.

Although not as hard hitting, the rootsy ballad "Willow Tree" does not offend, and the verses are pretty even. Watch out for the instrumental bits, where Chappo lets his goat vocals loose (nice violin though). "Holding the Compass" is another screwed up roots rocker, much bouncier and catchier, and certainly no less enjoyable (anyone else reminded of Zeppelin in the vocal delivery, by the way?). Cool geetar on that one.

The final live number is "Strange Band," further linking Family to Strange Days (remember the Family Entertainment cover!). The song lives up to the title though, strange lyrics, strange descending riff, strangely catchy. Nice use of contrast between the chuggin' verses and the gentle, violin-driven bridge.

The second side, studio side, opens with another Family classic, the harsh, driving, blues rocker "Part of the Load." The tune is bouncy yet moody, and the instrumentation is certainly captivating, but my hero is Chappo. The vocal performance is great, and the lyrics are actually pretty sturdy.

The ballad-ish "Anyway" is interesting from an instrumental point of view, the percussion is fascinating, but the acoustic driven melody leaves a bit to be desired. But it slides flawlessly into "Normans," a nice lil' instrumental. Not quite "Summer of '67" perhaps, but it's still kind of cool to hear how the band fills the solo spots between the barroom stomp of the verse (even Chappo gets a shot).

This spills over into "Lives and Ladies," a blues rocker with a somewhat gospel twinge. The lyrics aren't the greatest, I'll admit, but the tune is sturdy enough for you to make it through.

In the end, there aren't enough good numbers to make it an eternal classic, but enough of 'em to make it worthwhile. In fact, barring the title tune, nothing really gets that boring. Once again, and as usual, Family manages to be internally diverse enough to fail the dud mark, fuse enough of the hard rockin' bluesy with the good nature ballad, and play their instruments well enough not to embarrass themselves, but with enough sloppy care not to get all perfectionist and cold on us.

The whole live/studio thing is certainly an intriguing hook within itself, and it works pretty much just the way you'd expect it to with Family: the first side is packed with energy, and the second with funny studio layering and whatnot.

In fact, if you've an open enough mind, this would be an interesting place to start investigating the band. I mean, it's not like they're gonna get all avantegardey on ya, but still, the first side CAN be a bit sloppy, and the second CAN be a touch spotty. Oh, and, there's goat vocals.

Report this review (#164678)
Posted Sunday, March 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album is a good introduction to the band's best side: live on stage. Of course, the audience might have been surprised to listen to several unknown songs but when your hear them cheering, no doubt that they must have appreciated.

And how can't you appreciate such a monster track as Good News, Bad News. This is an extremely heavy song, which is not far away of some Led Zep ones (it evokes Dazed & Confused at times). Chapman vocals are really phenomenal: such a power is astonishing. He was already brilliant in the studio, but on stage, man!

I already mentioned in my review of their debut album, that I saw the band on the Belgian TV in 1971 or so. They mini-concert played live in the studio was really impressive and I have ever since remembered this band in the back of my head.

Chapman can also be emotive and full of tact. His vocal range is really vast, and the sweet Willow Tree, although it is not a great song, is the perfect example of Roger's ability. Not all songs are great, even if played live. The country-rock Holding The Compass is such one as well.

The electric goat is again the highlight during the powerful Strange Band. It was their last single at the time and it is another feat. The beat is again rather wild and destructive.

Family music was complex to apprehend. Not truly progressive, it combined lots of musical genres. The second part of this album is highlighting this aspect. The funky-rock Part Of The Load is the first example.

It was also pretty obvious that the studio tracks would sound a bit flat (if you bear in mind the two fantastic Good Times. and Strange Band). Some fine music, difficult to catalogue like the jazzy instrumental Normans.

My favourite studio track is the good closing number Lives & Ladies. A fine r'&'b song tinted with a good rock base. Efficient piano play and of course, Chapman. But Chapman is everywhere.

The live experience is prolonged on the CD version and it shows sufficiently how well studio are raised to a much higher level while played on stage (Part Of The Load and Lives & Ladies).

Three stars for this work. What a shame that it was never possible to experience of full live album from Family!

Report this review (#188033)
Posted Wednesday, November 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Family's fourth album continued the band's progression from an initially innovative and creative force to one that still showed flashes of creativity but was becoming increasingly reliant on contemporary blues-rock as the basis for their sound. This is a curious album, with the first side recorded live at Fairfield Halls in London and the other side in the same Olympic Sound Studios where they just about all their studio work.

The lineup remains unchanged from 'A Song for Me' which was released earlier the same year, with the exception of saxophonist Jim King, who did not appear on the original release of 'Song' but was present on the two bonus tracks included with the CD reissue. I'm pretty sure King was also present for the Fairfield Halls live recording as well, or at least someone appears to be playing saxophone on the first couple of tracks anyway.

These are decidedly heavier compositions than most of what was on the prior two albums, and Roger Chapman makes the most of his eccentric and ragged vocals throughout. At times his timbre (though not his articulation) reminds me just a bit of Pat Moran of Spring circa around the same time, particularly on "Strange Band" where he also pulls off a little echo ala Ozzy Osbourne. Other times I'd swear he comes off as Robert Plant with a hangover, most especially on "Good News, Bad News" which bears some striking resemblances to Zeppelin's "Good Times, Bad Times" from their debut album which had released the year before this one. I'm sure this was merely a coincidence.

Despite the heavy blues-rock rhythms, the band still manages to weave a bit of fusion into several songs, from the lazy "Willow Tree" that smacks of a Joe Cocker tune to "Part of the Load" which lumbers along with a seductive rhythm, tasty guitar soloing and lively piano for what must have been a great live offering during the band's tours.

Clearly the band was much more restrained in the studio than on the stage, as the entire backside of the album is much more subdued than the first half. The title track for example is mostly an experiment in percussion and copped violin playing, a slightly nervous tune that seems to be searching for a climax but never really finds it. "Normans" on the other hand wanders into a weird sort of almost carnival mood, although I expect it was probably intended to be mostly a showcase for John Weider's excellent violin work.

Despite the whiny blues riffs, "Lives and Ladies" is easily the most progressive track on the album, with a couple of smooth tempo transitions, and an ending that could have been made more impressive with a climax as opposed to the dreaded fadeout.

The Castle reissue bonus tracks include the laconic "Today" with a weird guitar riff, flat bass and sparse piano tinkling for a sort of folksy sound. "Song for Lots" is a forgettable countrified ditty, while second "Today" edit isn't much different than the first save for a slightly better mix.

Overall I have to go with three stars out of five again, as I did on their prior two albums. None are as good as the first, but the band hadn't quite turned the corner and headed down mediocre lane just yet. That time would come, but this album at least is still worth a spin or two even today.

peace

Report this review (#286685)
Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Anyway" is the 4th full-length album release by UK rock act Family. The album was released through Reprise (UK), United Artists Records (U.S.) in November 1970. "Anyway" was originally meant to be released as a double live album, but the band werenīt satisfied with the quality of the live recordings. Therefore the album was released as a split live/studio album with four live tracks (not available in studio form on any of their studio albums) on side 1 and four studio recordings on side 2 of the original vinyl version.

The music is in the trademark eclectic rock style that Family are known for. There are elements in the music from hard rock, progressive rock, phychadelic rock and folk. The inclusion of violin especially strengthens the link to the latter mentioned style. Vocalist Roger Chapman has a distinct, raw and throaty singing style which is a great asset to the bandīs sound. His performance on especially the live tracks is energetic and raw (on the studio tracks too). Lotīs of charm and great conviction behind the delivery.

The four live tracks on side 1 were recorded earlier in 1970 at Fairfield Halls in London. Weīre talking some pretty raw live recordings, and when the music is most busy, the recordings make me think of bootleg material. Itīs not bad by any means, but itīs not top notch professional sounding either. The four studio recordings on side 2 are enjoyable but not among the best material by the band. I think "Lives and Ladies" stand out as the strongest of the bunch.

Overall "Anyway" is a pretty decent release by Family. Iīd purchase any of the three preceeding albums before this one though but a 3 star (60%) rating is still deserved.

Report this review (#756090)
Posted Monday, May 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#1511186)
Posted Wednesday, January 13, 2016 | Review Permalink
jamesbaldwin
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Anyway is a project divided in half: the first part is recorded live, and unfortunately the sound is blurred, far away, as if it were a bootleg. The second part is recorded in the studio and presents songs from the arrangement similar to "A Song For Me", which is a folk rock guided by guitars and violin, ranging from the acoustic ballad to the hard rock song.

The first song, "Good News Bad News", is one of the band's masterpieces, a powerful rock where the Family show their cohesion in concert. The voice, the electric guitar and John Weider's vibes solo are all very effective. Who knows how beautiful it would have been if we could have heard it registered with all the trappings in the studio. Vote 8,5.

The second song, "Willow Tree", is a slow piano ballad that features folk instrumental parts guided by the violin (Vote 7+). The third returns to be more sustained, but as the second does not fully convince (Vote 7+). So we arrive at "Strange Band", one of the battle horses of the second formation of the Family, the one with Weider, which here shows off his skills to the violin in a beautiful hard- colored folk rock. Again the listening is penalized by the bad sound, which penalizes above all the bass and the rhythm section listening. The song reaches in some moments a very powerful pathos, such as "Good New Bad News", but it is not fully developed and suffers from its short duration (Vote 7,5).

Overall, this live side A, both for the bad recording and the sequence of the songs next to the first, does not allow us to fully appreciate the power of the legendary live performances of the Family.

The second side opens with an excellent blues ballad driven from the bass ("Part of the Load", vote 8) which is a novelty in the repertoire of the Family, continues with a minor acoustic ballad ("Anyway", vote 7), and then, as in the previous record (A Song For me), as a penultimate song puts a folk acoustic instrumental piece. Unlike "93's O.K. J" this instrumental song ("Normans") presents a beautiful melody led by the violin, which acts as a refrain and makes it the most melodic track of the album. The LP closes with "Lives and Ladies", which alternates acoustic moments with electric moments, trying in some way to represent a synthesis of the entire album; Chapman is able to show off his powerful raw vibrato but the song is not fluid, it does not flow in a casual way and appears somewhat forced (Vote 7,5).

Anyway is a more than discrete album, but that does not contain any particular news compared to A Song For Me (plus the lack of being less unitary): it confines itself to confirming the Family as one of the most creative progressive band of folk-prog.

Medium quality songs: 7.625. Vote 7.5 / 8 Three stars.

Report this review (#2086946)
Posted Friday, December 14, 2018 | Review Permalink

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