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FAMILY

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Family picture
Family biography
FAMILY was formed in 1967 by John 'Charlie' Whitney (guitar, vocals), Roger Chapman (vocals), Jim King (saxophone, Flute), Ric Grech (bass) and Rob Townsend (drums) in Leicester. FAMILY plays a mixture of Rock, Blues and Folk interwoven with Classical and Jazz elements.

The history of FAMILY goes back to1962 when John Charlie Whitney formed the R&B outfit THE FARINAS, together with Jim King (sax & vocals) Harry Overnall (drums) and Tim Kirchin (bass). In 1965 Rick Grech replaced Kirchin on bass and in 1966 singer Roger Chapman joined the band. Chapman's vocal-style and the use of violin and sax expanded the band's sound in a progressive direction. They changed their name to ROARING SIXTIES and started to wear double-breasted suits on stage, that gave them a gangster image. Consequently the producer Kim Fowley, who recorded demos with the band in1967,christened them 'The Family'. Shortly after becoming FAMILY, drummer Overnall was replaced by Rob Townsend.

In September 1967 FAMILY released a single for 'Liberty', produced by Jimmy Miller and a year later signed to 'Reprise' for their first record 'Music In A Doll's House' (1968), produced by Dave Mason (TRAFFIC), who contributed one composition to the record. The record presented a mixture of Rock, Blues and Folk with Classical and Jazz-elements, dominated by Roger Chapman's typical 'throaty' vocal-style. The record came out with a sophisticated cover, a feature that would become one of FAMILY'S trademarks. In July1968 the band opened for singer Tim Hardin at the 'Royal Albert Hall' in London and in 1969 they released their second record 'Family Entertainment', that followed the same musical direction as the first. After the release of the record and prior to a US tour Ric Grech quit the band to join BLIND FAITH. John Weider (Ex-ERIC BURDON &THE ANIMALS) joined the band on bass and violin and in 1970 John 'Poli' Palmer (Ex-ECLECTION/keyboards & vibes) replaced Jim King ,who was dismissed for his 'erratic behaviour'.

In 1970 FAMILY released two records 'A Song For Me', on which the band developed a more aggressive sound and 'Anyway', a half-live half-studio record, with a beautiful 'Leonardo Da Vinci' cover . Both records entered the British Top Ten. In 1970 the band played several major European Rock-Festivals (among others 'The Isle Of Wight Festival') and became an appreciated live-act. Roger Chapman became famous for tambourine and mic-stand crashing and his special custom 'Idiot-Da...
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FAMILY discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

FAMILY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.93 | 130 ratings
Music In A Doll's House
1968
3.50 | 86 ratings
Family Entertainment
1969
3.32 | 66 ratings
A Song For Me
1970
3.43 | 73 ratings
Anyway
1970
3.37 | 69 ratings
Fearless
1971
3.42 | 63 ratings
Bandstand
1972
2.32 | 45 ratings
It's Only A Movie
1973

FAMILY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.38 | 8 ratings
BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert
1991
3.00 | 2 ratings
Live
2003

FAMILY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.00 | 5 ratings
Family - Masters From The Vaults
2003

FAMILY Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 3 ratings
Old Songs, New Songs
1971
3.00 | 2 ratings
Best Of Family
1974
3.59 | 6 ratings
Music In A Doll's House / Family Entertainment
1999
3.25 | 4 ratings
BBC Radio Volume 2: 1971-73
2004
3.17 | 5 ratings
BBC Radio Volume 1: 1968 - 69
2004

FAMILY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Strange Band
1970
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Weavers Answer
1970
0.00 | 0 ratings
Strange Band
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
In My Own Time
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sat'D'Y' Barfly
1972
0.00 | 0 ratings
Burlesque
1972
0.00 | 0 ratings
My Friend The Sun
1973
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sweet Desiree
1973
0.00 | 0 ratings
Burlesque
1978
2.09 | 2 ratings
The Peel Sessions
1988

FAMILY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Song For Me by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.32 | 66 ratings

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A Song For Me
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin

4 stars Family is a great art rock and pioneeristic prog rock band. I think is the most underrated group here in progarchives and generally in forums of prog fans. The reasons why Family is underrated are: 1 Family's music is full of american roots-rock influences 2 The singer is too much cumbersome 3 The group is guitar-oriented and keyboards are not preminent 4 Family prefers more short art rock songs than suites or long and odd songs. In a word: Family's music is visceral art rock, not cerebral or classical prog rock. Family's music touch your lung. And it touch you in a surprising way, full of strength and intelligence.

Except their last album, Family's discography includes only great album or masterpiece. There are no falls.

Family Song for me is not a masterpiece but a very good album, It's hard rock and folk oriented, with an excellent mix of acoustic and electric guitar, plus violin and flute, and over all there is the Chapman' voice, wonderful, rough, or tender, ore amusing, or angry. Chapman is one of the greater singer in the whole rock history (not only in prog history). In this album Chapman sings without any inibition (in the firsts two album his vocal performancee sometimes are not at their best, if we consider his enormous capability)

The songs.

1 Drowned in wine. Great hard folk song. Electric and acoustic guitar, flute, voice: magic. 8,5 2 Some poor souls. Short acoustic folk song. Delicious. 7,5 3 Love is a sleeper. Great song of classic rock with vibes. 7,5/8 4 Stop for the traffic. Not bad but anonymous rock song. 6,5 5 Wheels. Another great hard folk song. Excellent work of guitarist Whytney. 8+ ---- 6 Song for sinking lovers. This song is more folk and violin oriented than others and in the beginning is lazy but before ending has got the climax in instrumental sequence. 7,5/8 7 and 8 are two closed short songs, the first with vibes, the second of classic rock. This moment is the easier of the album. 7+ 9 Instrumental, and very strange folk song, with optim melody and improvisations. 7+ 10 Song for me. Maybe the longer song of Family. It's a jam of hard rock, maybe too long and repetitive because the songs goes around the same musical chord. But there are good moment of power rock, the song give you power 7,5/8

The production is good, the sound is homogenic, the alternance between empty space, or calm melody, and pieces of hard rock and shouted voice makes a good effect.

Score: 8,5 Four stars and half. Listen to, and re-listen to Family music!

 Music In A Doll's House by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.93 | 130 ratings

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Music In A Doll's House
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars The first time I heard this album (only two or three years ago, now) I found myself thinking--almost immediately--"So this is where GENESIS got their sound"--at least the sound that they displayed on their first album, now known as "...from Genesis to Revelation." The instrumental effects, the song stylings, and especially the vocal stylings and effects used by Peter Gabriel imitate those of Family and Roger Chapman, respectively, quite strikingly. The Charterhouse lads' first album was released nine months after this one so it is quite likely that Peter, Tony, Ant, and Mike were familiar with the album--especially as it did not take long for The Family's acclaim to vault it into the same conversations with fellow psychedelic rockers Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, The Move, and The Nice. Anyway, to Music in a Doll's House (which, for some reason, is one of my all-time favorite album titles). There are an alarming amount of stylistic varieties represented here--especially remarkable for a first album release. Producer DAVE MASON did a great job of capturing the essential spirit of each song in these relatively short song formats. There are a lot of blues- founded songs--especially in the middle of the album (7/ "Old Songs, New Song" through 10. "See Through Windows") but it is the more unusual, treated Chappo-vocal songs that verge into the realm of psychedelia that intrigue and interest me most (especially in the way I feel I'm listening to "..from Genesis to Revelation" Peter Gabriel), like "The Chase," "Me My Friend," "Peace of Mind," "Voyage," though the more folk-oriented Cat Stevens-like songs like "Mellowing Grey" "3 x Time" are also intriguing. I also adore the three little "Variations" (on themes). I could feast on a little more of those! A great album from an amazing period of music. Not essential as a landmark or hallmark of progressive rock music but definitely an excellent addition to any prog lover's collection!
 Anyway by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.43 | 73 ratings

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Anyway
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by 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.

 Music In A Doll's House by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.93 | 130 ratings

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Music In A Doll's House
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by ross warren

4 stars We used to call Rodger, Larry the lamb, but really it's a great voice. I can't really add much to the other reviews other than t say that the production is often the weak point although some tracks sound very much better than others. It remains a very important recording and one that any serious prog-head should own. if anything the mono mix is the more listenable, and if like me you prefer mono, then that is the one to seek out despite it's scarce nature. by all accounts many of the mono LPs didn't track well, and so it was quickly withdrawn. So expect to pay over '50.00 for a good copy. i would love to give this five stars but the cluttered production often lets it down, so until a great remaster comes along. I'll give it four. The next album by this band is also essential.
 Family Entertainment by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.50 | 86 ratings

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Family Entertainment
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

4 stars From Psyche to Prog in one year

Some weeks ago, a friend who has recently divorced from his Prog listening wife, sold me some of the albums she left in the house before moving to another country, among this records I found the first two releases by FAMILY. Music in a Doll's House didn't impressed me too much (good but not essential) so with little expectations listened Family Entertainment, but the surprise was monumental, I couldn't believe that a Psyche band could progress to a strong Proto Prog release in less than a year, but without losing the charm and freshness of the debut.

If the first album was a classic exponent of late Psychedelia, Family Entertainment is a nice blend of sounds, atmospheres and genres, we can listen some remains of the original style, carefully blended with Hard Rock and some sort of early Prog Folk, that is simply delightful.

The album is opened by The Weaver's Answer, a mysterious blend of every influence the band could had found in those days, from JEFFERSON AIRPLANE to early JETHRO TULL with a touch of Blues and Jazz, all enhanced by the dramatic voice of Roger Chapman who cam express and transmit strong feelings with unusual capacity. The interplay between the powerful vocals, distorted guitar and a soft flute is addictive from the first to the last note?.Really impressive.

Observation from a Hill took me by surprise, because the singer is definitely not Chappman but doesn't affect the quality of the music, and the folksy violin (uncredited) really is the cherry in the top of the pie, if I had to describe it would have to create some exotic genre as Country Celtic, again they hit the nail in the head.

Only after listening Hung Up Down, I'm able to notice that Roger Chapman is some sort of masculine version of Grace Slick, they both manage to create a peculiar atmosphere with the fantastic vibrato, but the similarities end there, after a bluesy they morph into some kind of Arabic Folk, that could be an acestor of DEAD CAN DANCE, a mysterious atmosphere that continues along the first part of Summer '67, another song that every Proghead should enjoy.

How-Hi-The-Li is another song without Chappman in the vocals, and this is a good change, because the deep calmed voice fits much better in this guitar oriented jazzy ballad that somehow reminds me of From the Beginning but more acid and vibrant. For the first time I notice the excellent drumming of Rob Townsend who does an extraordinaire job as a human metronome.

After the simple but effective Second Generation Woman (just a classic 60's Rock), comes the eclectic From Past Archives a song that has everything, beginning with a Beatlesque intro, orchestral and almost Symphonic passages and some sort of power ballad with a couple of Twelve-bar blues instrumental breaks, almost like a fusion of ELP and LYNYRD SKYNYRD.

From this point to the end, we can expect anything, starting with Dim that sounds like a Southern Country Rock with some Heavy fugues, but what I never expected was Processions a clear exponent of mid 60's British Invasion in the vein of HERMAN HERMIT'S.........A demonstration of how unexpected this LP is.

Family Entertainment, is closed by two different songs, the sitar based Face In The Crowd with the voice of Rick Grech (Bob Dylan anybody?) in then vocals and the atmospheric but vibrant Emotions where we enjoy Chappman's voice again supported by .dramatic choirs and a fantastic piano.

Probably for a 21st Century listener, not familiar with the late 60's, the music could sound dated, but for a fanatic of this transitional era is a must have, so I will go with 4 solid stars.

 Music In A Doll's House by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.93 | 130 ratings

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Music In A Doll's House
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Specialist

3 stars A few days ago, a friend who had just divorced from his wife who used to be Prog fan, sold me the albums she left in the house, like 30 records for US$ 50.00. I bought them without looking at them, and that's how I found FAMILY, something that really made me happy, being myself a huge fan of the late 60's Psyche/Proto Prog scene.

So started in chronological order with Music in a Doll's House and from the first moment was impressed by the fantastic voice of Roger Chapman, who combines a timbre reminiscent of a young Peter Gabriel, with the vibrato of David Surkamp and in occasions the acute screams in the vein of David Byron , but a more powerful voice, really a great combination.

But let's start from the beginning, despite some radical moments, the album is not, I would say that they are one of the best examples of Proto Prog, because despite some radical changes and some exiting experimental passages, they play some sort of Blues, Hard Rock, 60's British Invasion and Psyche with an interesting structure.

Won't make a song by song review, because it could lead to confusion being that they don't have a defined style, but must mention some tracks as the vibrant The Chase, the weird Me My Friend, the radical Variation On A Theme Of Hey Mr. Policeman and the spectacular Voyage, where the guys of FAMILY dare to go further and explore new sounds, a brilliant song with stupendous vocals and incredibly advanced distorted violin (for 1968) that took me by surprise plus an exciting Mellotron as the cherry at the top of the cake.

To summarize, not a masterpiece or a great addition for every Prog fan, but if as me, you are a fanatic of the late 60's, the album is a must have, so I will go with 3 solid stars that should be 3.5?I'm impatient to review their second release.

 Family Entertainment by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.50 | 86 ratings

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Family Entertainment
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Having burst onto the British rock scene with 1968's eclectic psychedelic debut 'Music In A Doll's House', Family, a group who have always defied easy categorisation, performed a characteristically abrupt about-turn with the release of this follow-up effort 'Family Entertainment'. Issued in 1969 with sleeve art directly parodying The Doors 'Strange Days' album, this sophomore release for the most deliberately eschewed the acid-rock overtures of its predecessor, instead producing a more song-orientated album that reflected the various band members love of folk, blues and rock 'n' roll. A veritable melting pot of ideas, 'Family Entertainment' may just be the most atypical of all Family albums, showcasing the rich and unique mixture of styles that saw the group positioned alongside many of the same era's progressive rock acts. The progressive rock tag is, of course, rather misleading, yet whatever genre you may think Family inhabit - whether it be art-rock, acid-rock or psychedelic blues - there is no denying that this one of the few outfits capable of producing an utterly original sound thanks to the winning blend of Roger Chapman's throaty vocals and the multi-instrumental talents of his bandmates. Whilst 'Music In A Doll's House' certainly leant towards the more lysergic end of sixties rock, 'Family Entertainment' instead serves up a colourful jaunt through a veritable mix of sonic territories, taking in rustic ballads, avant-garde rock stomps and bluesy pop numbers to name just a few. Highlights include the rousing fan favourite 'The Weaver's Answer', a tune which would quickly become a live staple; the brassy, head-nodding 'Hung Up Down'; the jazzy and atmospheric 'How-Hi-The-Li'; and the mid- Western cowboy drawl of the delightfully bouncy banjo-strummed 'Dim'. Its a heady experience, and like many of the best records this gets better with each additional listen, the dense instrumental passages constantly throwing up new surprises for the eagle-eared listener. A true original then from one of the great cult groups, 'Family Entertainment' is best described as an album full of character and charm; although it may not be progressive rock per se, this is still inherently progressive music chock full of creativity. In a word: excellent. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
 Music In A Doll's House by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.93 | 130 ratings

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Music In A Doll's House
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Fronted by the incredible lungs of Roger Chapman - whose theatrical singing style sounds to me a bit like a more forceful and energetic version of the one Peter Gabriel would hit on when Genesis made Trespass - Music In a Doll's House is a psych-tinged masterpiece of early prog. Opening with the blind, wild-eyed panic of The Chase, the album soon segues into the melancholy romanticism of Mellowing Grey, takes a trip through Moody Blues Territory on Never Like This, and offers a moment of stentorian melodrama in the form of Me My Friend before reaching the first of the shorter "Variation On a Theme Of..." tracks which punctuate the album; in about nine minutes, the band have already woven more disparate themes and atmospheres and approaches together than many contemporaries would be able to muster for a full album.

A neglected classic, this is particularly recommended for anyone interested in spooky, haunting early prog which takes the sound of The Moody Blues or Procol Harum in a more wild and untamed direction.

 Anyway by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.43 | 73 ratings

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Anyway
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by 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.

 Bandstand by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.42 | 63 ratings

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Bandstand
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars An odd but ultimately rather endearing little group, Family were always one of those outfits lumped in with the progressive group by dint of being a bit too different from everybody else. Calling them a prog-rock act is a bit like calling Hawkwind heavy metal; neither is particularly accurate yet they share definite traits of these respective labels. Besides, where else would you bracket Family? Starting out in the late-sixties, these not- quite-progressive-rockers introduced themselves with their excellent 1968 debut 'Music From A Doll's House', a psych-tinged medley of eccentric rock ingredients shot through with a deceptively complex instrumental edge that showcased the group's pure eclectism. It would prove to be a career highlight, although follow-up efforts 'Entertainment', 'Anyway' and 'Fearless' would also come close, respectively showing off the folk, jazz, pop and psychedelic elements that made their sound so attractively unique. With 'Bandstand', however, Family would pursue their ballsiest course yet, producing a hard-rock themed album that showed they could really rock out with the best of 'em, the opening salvo 'Burlesque' - all gritty, bluesy riffs and jump-start rhythms - kicking proceedings off in powerful style. Here, most of all, Family were producing a rare example of 'genre' music, grafting their eccentric style onto a bruising set of blustery tracks that exhibited a real spiky edge to their sound. It's one of their longer albums - thirty-seven minutes - yet it rockets by in pacey fashion, the stinging guitars of 'Broken Nose' and 'Ready To Go's tough veneer the perfect platform for Roger Chapman's wonderfully gruff vocals. 'Bandstand' may lack the lyrical undertones found in their best work - think the pretty simplicities of 'Fearless' or the odd time-signatures and acid licks of their debut - yet this is still Family in full flow, exhibiting a rare streak of rock solid power that showcases yet another side to their highly singular sonic character. Definitely the last great Family release, 'Bandstand' is an impressive ode to the bluesier side of prog.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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