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Family - It's Only a Movie CD (album) cover



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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars Way overrated and the "album de trop" if you ask me, this lacklustre collection of songs is really the end. Thank them for not over-stretching their welcome/ they understood that they were a spent force and gracefully bowed out. Impeccable recording career up to now, this was the only flawed album. The live album is posthumous.

For family completist, this little brother is worthy of being in your collection.

Report this review (#63362)
Posted Friday, January 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although the Family catalog has its ups and downs, their final studio album turned out to be one of the group's better offerings. The title track, with its tongue-in-cheek humor courtesy of Roger Chapman, is one of the many highlights. "Buffet Tea for Two" is another stand out track with its jazzy middle section and great guitar. "Sweet Desiree" was released as a single in the UK, but didn't do very well for some reason.

It's too bad the group broke up after this recording because they were onto something. Although Family were never what you'd call a successful band, more albums like this one may have changed all that.

Report this review (#97510)
Posted Tuesday, November 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars The last Family album features very few fine moments. One of these is the 10CC oriented title track. It really sounds as if it were coming out of the head of Godley & Creme, or Goldman & Stewart if you prefer. It features lots of inventive background sounds and displays a very positive mood. A fine opener to be honest.

But there won't be many songs like this. The painful and country Leroy is probably one of their weakest ever. Chapman is also more discreet in his vocal parts; he sounds more as an unplugged goat (in comparison with the his nickname: the electric goat). Even if he is excellent again during Buffet For Two (but heavy orchestrations were not needed IMO).

Actually, he seemed to have been connected to a plug again during Boom Bang. A song with no beat during the verses and which only shines thanks to Roger.

The inspiration sounds completely out of steam for this album, inexistent during Boots 'n' Roots: some sort of a cabaret song. This album has not much to offer, I'm afraid. Little rock, little prog, little avant- garde. Nothing great is left in this case.

The Banger bluesy instrumental affair is hard to bear. But in these cases, you know what to do. The only problem is only that the next songs aren't worth either.

Family was an original band, which is maybe the reason they are featured on this site, but never truly progressive. This work should just be best forgotten. One star.

Report this review (#188797)
Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars Jim Cregan of Blossom Toes and the late Tony Ashton rounded out a rather long list of musicians who wandered through the Family turnstile at one time or another, and became part of the lineup that would disband shortly after this album released. This isn't as bad an album as the rap it's given would leave you to believe, but by the same token there's not a whole lot to remind me of some of their better days either.

"Buffet Tea for Two", despite the cheesy title, has some great piano and percussion (not to mention at least a couple of uncredited instruments), and the opening title track has the feel of what was coming to be known as "art rock" at the time. The band even manages to take a stab at dirty R&B with "Sweet Desiree" and what can only be described as cowboy country blues with the completely out-of-place "Stop This Car" including a muddled attempt at slide guitar that I'm pretty sure was delivered with a Gibson and a beer bottle. So some creativity I suppose considering they really weren't that kind of band, but in this record is mostly a total mishmash of sounds with no cohesive theme, rhyme or reason.

The cowboy photo on the cover is appropriate given the salty, almost redneck sound of most of the rest of the album, including the aptly-named "Boots N' Roots" and the closing "Check Out", which sounds like a jam session and appropriately fades away to signal an end to the album and to the band.

Not much else to say really. This was a very good band in their heyday, but changing times and a revolving lineup combined to make them irrelevant as the mid-70s gave way to the early vestiges of disco and punk. They called it quits after this record, followed of course by the inevitable 'lost' live releases and white-label compilations. Really for collectors only, although probably a little too good for the two stars I'm going to lay on it (but not by much).


Report this review (#286693)
Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars With the loss of both John Wetton and multi-instrumentalist Poli Palmer (and the arrival of bassist Jim Cregan and keyboardist Tony Ashton) the Family lose their progrock potential and the art-rock arrangements (already deficient on Bandstand), and still leave the arrangements of strings and horns to Del Newman.

The band that record It's Only a Movie is now worn down by the continuous changes of the group players and the creative effort made in 6 very different albums (published in 5 years). And yet Chapman and Whitney are not content to record a classic rock album, and still they try to explore new territories, ending up in the parody of country-western and soul genres, and in goliardic songs in style Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

"It's Only a Movie" is a goliardic song, with saloon piano, that pretend to be a soundtrack of a western movie. Nice but not serious. Vote 7+. "Leroy" Is another parody of country-western, with harmonica and saloon piano and strings; in this case the track is more melodic and romantic than the previous. Vote 7,5. "Buffet Tea for Two" recalls some instrumental passages of "Tommy": is an orchestral song based on rhythm, with an art rock approach; maybe the most proggy song of the album. Vote 7,5/8. "Boom Bang" is very pumped (vote 7,5) and sung with grit. In this side the quality and the seriousness of the songs are increased.

"Boots and Roots" opens side B with goliardic mood (again). The presence of Tony Ashton is noted: the piano is present in this album in greater doses than any other album of the Family. It is a lazy and ironic ballad (vote 7+), with a swing arrangement. In the end, "Movie" is more art rock arranged than Bandstand!

"Banger" (vote 6,5/7) is an instrumental song with mood soul and horn arrangement. "Sweet Desiree" is another song arranged in a funambulistic way (vote 7,5), combining latin rhythms, music soul and horn arrangement. In fact it is a Latin-jazz piece. "Suspicion" (vote 7+) mix soul music, with horns in the foreground, with blues rhythm and piano saloon: the effect is a funky song mixed with the bluegrass. The Family continue to amaze for their eclecticism. "Check Out" is the piece that ends the album, with a syncopated rockblues (similar to "Burlesque" but faster) too forced and pulled for long. Vote 7.

Even when the Family strive to give their worst, they are not able to produce a bad record, and they end up astonishing for their inventiveness in mixing different musical genres, with always original art rock arrangements. In this record, which does not present any memorable song, that is the less unitary, the most ramshackle in their career, the Family do not write any bad song and avoid any banality, churning out original songs, as often goliardic and parodistic, ie they have no ambition to become memorable pieces. The album suffer because the songs are not connected to each other with a sequence that has a studied sense, and because the songs are not "serious" but still remains a disc more than decent.

Medium quality of the songs: 7,31. Vote 7+. Three stars

Report this review (#2111251)
Posted Wednesday, December 26, 2018 | Review Permalink

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