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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 to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.94 | 152 ratings
Music In A Doll's House
3.52 | 104 ratings
Family Entertainment
3.33 | 78 ratings
A Song For Me
3.39 | 87 ratings
3.41 | 83 ratings
3.43 | 75 ratings
2.38 | 54 ratings
It's Only A Movie

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

4.40 | 10 ratings
BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert
3.67 | 3 ratings

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

3.08 | 6 ratings
Family - Masters From The Vaults

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

3.00 | 3 ratings
Old Songs, New Songs
3.00 | 2 ratings
Best Of Family
3.56 | 6 ratings
Music In A Doll's House / Family Entertainment
3.25 | 4 ratings
BBC Radio Volume 2: 1971-73
3.17 | 5 ratings
BBC Radio Volume 1: 1968 - 69

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

4.00 | 1 ratings
Strange Band
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Weavers Answer
0.00 | 0 ratings
Strange Band
0.00 | 0 ratings
In My Own Time
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sat'D'Y' Barfly
0.00 | 0 ratings
0.00 | 0 ratings
My Friend The Sun
0.00 | 0 ratings
Sweet Desiree
0.00 | 0 ratings
2.09 | 2 ratings
The Peel Sessions

FAMILY Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 It's Only A Movie by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.38 | 54 ratings

It's Only A Movie
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin

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

 Bandstand by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.43 | 75 ratings

Family Eclectic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin

4 stars Just as after the experimental and progressive "Music From a Doll's House" a more classic album has arrived ("Entertainment"), even after the creative effort of Fearless's eccentric art-rock arrangements, a much more conventional album has arrived, Bandstand.

The Family entrusted Del Newmann with the orchestral arrangement of the strings, and limited themselves to producing rock songs with the classic strophe-refrain structure showing off the technical virtuosity of their singer, Roger Chapman, and of all the musicians. The songs on this album are split between prog songs and blues-funk songs.

"Burlesque" is a syncopated funk (vote 7,5/8), with a lazy rhythm, which comes alive thanks to the Whitney guitar and the hoarse and vibrato singing of Chapman. This initial song brings the disc to the black sound that characterizes half of his songs, and heralds the style that Chapman and Whitney will adopt in the Streetwalkers, the group that they will create after the breakup of the Family. "Bolero Babe" (vote 7+) completely changes sound and mood, being a slow progressive orechestral ballad, where the arrangements are a simple accompaniment of Chapman's voice in the verses, then "pump" the refrain.

"Coronation" (vote 7+) is more spontaneous and less constructed than Bolero Babe and sees John Wetton's collaboration in writing, usually left to Chapman-Whitney. It is a progressive ballad with a rather bare arrangement, which gives the best of itself in the refrain. Until now, the album has shown three songs of medium-slow rhythm, the first aggressive, the other romantic and subdued. At this point comes "Dark Eyes", an abortive song, one minute and 46 seconds, that fades without being developed, after a good intro of Palmer's piano (no vote).

"Broken nose" (vote 7,5) reshuffles the tone of the album thanks to a frenzied, almost noisy, funky rhythm, supported by some frenetic chorus, in which Linda Lewis takes part. The song has a paroxysmal "crescendo" a bit forced, which becomes sensational (in this as in two other songs on the album) thanks to the sound of the keyboards (synth?) and piano.

Here ends a first non-memorable side.

"My Freind the Sun" is a prog-folk song (vote 8+) with in the foreground the voice of Chapman, here splendidly delicate, tender, and the acoustic guitar. Wetton sings the harmony vocals. The song is simple but very inspired. "Glove" is one of the top rockblues of the Family (vote 8,5). It's a piece that has little of progressive and a lot of the singing of black shouters. With a progression of piano, drums and electric guitar where even the bass is high in volume, the track reaches a remarkable pathos, penalized only by the fact that the sensational production due to the "wall of sound" of the arrangements prevents the voice of Chapman (which rises in a fantastic performance) to be fully audible. "Ready to Go" is another funky piece, very supported, without the excesses of "Broken Nose", more conventional (vote 7,5) but well done.

The last song, "Top of the Hill" (vote 8+) is the longest, and also the most progressive song of the Lp. The first minute, instrumental, is interlocutory, and seems like a way to increase its duration. then, when the piece explodes, we listen to another song with a sensationalist progression (where in the background it seems to me to hear the vibraphone), and where the strings support an ever more engaging rhythm that ends with a great climax. With this song ends a great second side.

Bandstand is an album only partly progressive, however, equipped with 8 very good songs, partly rock, partly blues / funk, with a good first side and an excellent second side. The Family seems that with this effort they have exhausted their creativity, their repertoire and, in fact, after being one of the progressive antesignan groups with their debut masterpiece (1968), only 4 years later, in a year where the progressive has broken the charts and touched perhaps its maximum splendor (1972), they give us a more conventional album, although very good, which seems to archive their most progressive and experimental phase. In fact, undecided about which direction to take, so eclectic to risk being without a true identity, with the next album "It's Only A Move" (1973) will definitely come out of the world of progressive rock and will melt for lack of inspiration.

Medium quality of the songs:7,78; Vote album: 8,5. Four stars

 Anyway by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.39 | 87 ratings

Family Eclectic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin

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.

 Fearless by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.41 | 83 ratings

Family Eclectic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin

5 stars The third period of the Family opens with the arrival of John Wetton on bass, and the abandonment of John Weider, whose violin had greatly influenced the two previous albums. Fearless is the masterpiece of the maturity of the Family, in the name of an eclectic creative art-rock that however can rightfully be considered progressive rock. The first side is simply fantastic: five songs one more beautiful than the other.

1) Between blue and me (vote 8+): rock ballad with before sweet and then powerful singing of Chapman (wonderful), and electric guitar sound. 2) Sat'd'y Barfly (vote 7,5): second song with eccentric arrangement, grotesque mood, with the brass to make the melody. 3) Larf and Sing (vote 8): short song with the vibraphone, sung in falsetto, progressive rock choirs: Beautiful. 4) Spanish Tide (vote 9): masterpiece of the album, for what can be considered a mini-suite of 4 minutes, alternating tender moments, acceleration funk rock, renaissance melody painted with Spanish guitar; the singing pass through delicate moments (Chapman) , grit soul (Wetton) and hard rock power (both). 5) Save Some For Three (vote 7,5/8): like the second track, it has an exuberant band arrangement, but in the middle there is a beautiful melody, carved by the voice of Chapman.

End of a first side full of creativity and musical arrangements with endless inventions.

6) Take Your Partners (vote 8): it opens the second side with a new electronic sound: the synthesizer is in the foreground for the whole song, and weaves its warp with many variations on the theme, leading the song over 6 minutes. It seems to hear a different record from that of the first side, but when the voice of Chapman and the percussions arrive, we find the identity of the Family, which ends with a high volume, pyrotechnical end.

7) Children and 8) Crinkly Green (vote 6,5) are two brief tracks. Perhaps to breathe a sigh after the sound orgasm of the previous song, two acoustic moments arrive, the lightweight but very simple ballad called Children, and the instrumental piece by Palmer with the vibraphone. Overall they are 3 minutes of simplicity detached from the highly sophisticated art-rock arrangements of all the other songs. Despite being the weakest moments of the Lp, qualitatively lower than the other pieces, in the economy of the whole record these two tracks do not disfigure. 9) Blind (vote 7,5): very loud rock song with hoarse singing, and ending with bagpipes. Great creativity. 10) Burning Bridges (vote 8+): Fantastic ending with a melodically beautiful song, with a wonderful sound of guitars, very atmospheric, with hypnotic renaissance tones and then with the voice of Chapman to embellish everything.

Fearless is a small masterpiece (with a great song in place of Children could become an absolute masterpiece) halfway between art-rock and progressive-rock, which highlights the enormous inventiveness and originality in the songwriting and arrangements of the Chapman -Whitney duo, who have never embraced a specific musical genre and have always moved according to their creativity and inspiration regardless of any boundaries.

Medium quality: 7,86. Vote: 9. Five stars.

 Family Entertainment by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.52 | 104 ratings

Family Entertainment
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin

4 stars The second album by Family, although touching a huge variety of musical themes, like the previous one, is less experimental than Music from Doll's House, less progressive: it contains songs that are slower and more meditated, that develop closer to the conventions, without continuous changes of rhythm and arrangement.

The first piece (The Weaver's Answer, vote 9,5) is epoch-making, a song that gives the chills for the rhythmic progression and for how it is sung by Roger Chapman, who reaches here peaks that few singers can afford. The second (Observations From a Hill, vote 7+) seems a sort of relaxing break (and King's voice does not raise it) that would not have found a place in the previous album, where every song had continuous surprises. The third (Hung Up Down, vote 7+) song is a rock ballad with melodic insertions. The album has dropped dramatically after the brilliant beginning, but here comes a fantastic instrumental piece (Summer '67, vote 8), which brings together gypsy, indian and blues music, violin and saxophone chasing each other in what is a fantastic piece of Indian fusion. The first side closes with a long, romantic melodic ballad (How-Hi-The-Li, vote 7,5), sung in a fantastic and tender way by Chapman.

The second side opens with the hard rock of "Second Generation Woman" (vote 7,5), written and sung by Grech, who has a good rhythm, but for sound and arrangement is detached from the rest of the album. It follows a very original melodic song (From Past Archives, vote 7,5/8), which reserves the swing instrumental pieces, and then a more conventional, but pleasant country song (Dim, vote 7+). "Processions" is again an acoustic melodic ballad (vote 7,5) with a country flavor, embellished with a very sweet sound thanks to the piano phrases. Following is a song (again Grech on vocals) with sitar (Face in The Cloud, vote 7), an oriental ballad, a little lazy; the best parts are still the instrumental phrases. The final, grandiose, is left to the piano ballad of "Emotions" (vote 8,5), where the drummer and the voice of Chapman are very clearly, which reaches the climax in a melodic refrain with an epic and solemn impact. Masterpiece.

"Entertainment" is an album that does not develop the progressive solutions of the previous one, in fact it consists of more homogeneous pieces, mostly acoustic ballads. It has its peaks in the first and last song, two pieces with epic crescents. The first, in particular, "Weaver's Answer", remains one of the most striking pieces of the entire sixties period. In between there are country songs, hard-rock, swing, Indian, all cute, but no great songs. These songs are not connected by a fluid sequence that makes them feel a unique whole, like in "Music From Doll's House". It is a heterogeneous album, which presents the weak points in the songs of Grech, but overall it is very inspired and various, although not as revolutionary as the previous one.

Medium quality of the songs: 7,73. Vote album: 8,5. Four stars.

 Music In A Doll's House by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.94 | 152 ratings

Music In A Doll's House
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin

5 stars The Family with this album have influenced the Genesis, the singing of Peter Gabriel, the Jethro Tull, the Yes, the Gentle Giant and who knows how many other progressive bands. It was 1968: the Beatles published the "White Album", the Rolling Stones "Beggar's Banquet", the Procol Harum "Shine on Brightly", the Kinks "Village Green Preservation Society"; the Pink Floyd "Saucerful of Secrets".

The Family published a collage album where there was rock, folk, blues, space rock like Pink Floyd's sound, symphonic music, and gypsy and Indian sounds: in fact, with this album the Family invented the various genres of the progressive rock. The Beatles of Sgt Pepper and the Floyds of The Piper were completely overcome in the progressive sense: nothing is trivial here, nothing is pop, as well as arranged, as in those two albums of 1967.

The first song (The Chase, vote 7,5) is a manifesto of progressive rock, with choirs, pressing rhythm and instrumental ending. The second (Mellowing Grey, vote 7,5/8) is a classic piece that may have inspired the songs with the violins of the Gentle Giant, although this is devoid of the rhythmic basis of rock. The third (Never Like This, vote 7,5) is a folk rock with the harmonica; "Me My Friend" (vote 7,5/8) has a martial rhythm with a sound of saxophones and psychedelic voices.

Until now there have been songs of a little more than two minutes, and now the latter is infused with an instrumental fantasy of 23 seconds (Variation Mr. Policeman), followed by "Winter" (vote 7,5), two and a half minutes of an epic rock with a piano beginning and strings. Then starts, with a darker atmosphere, the only "long" song of the first side (Old Songs, New Songs, vote 8), which exceeds 4 minutes: a blues rock ending with a long jam of wind and guitar wah wah, which is dissolved in the instrumental finale of Breeze Variation. Vote side A: 9.

The second side contains songs on average longer, and begins with the funky syncopated rhythm of "Mr. Policeman" (vote 8), where the voice of Chapman can be appreciated in all its nuances. "See Through Windows" (vote 7,5) is a psychedelic space rock of almost 4 minutes which makes the sound harder.

After an oriental intermezzo (Variations Me My Friend), debtor of Sgt Pepper, two masterpieces follow, two pieces that are mini suites that will influence Genesis and Yes: the short "Peace of Mind" (vote 8+), with epic theme of violin and sensational ending, and the great masterpiece "Voyage" (vote 8,5), also guided by the violin, a cosmic rock which is an inextricable hybrid of musical genres and rhytms. At This point, the listener realize that music and voice are close to sublime. This is pure inspiration, pure invention.

The Family make in 3-4 minutes what in the following years the pivotal groups of the progressive will try to chase with 20-minute suites.

"Breeze" (vote 7,5) follows, a bucolic ballad, and then the grand finale, "3 x Time" (vote 7,5/8), rock ballad with roaring fantasy band, melodic piece and new band piece, ending with 15 seconds of parody of "God Save The Queen" (Gentle Giant will copy this idea in their first record). Vote Side B: 9,5

Epoch-making album, seminal for progressive rock, comparable for historical importance, and for quality, to "Valentyne's Suite" by Colosseum and "In the Court of ..." by King Crimson.

Vote Album: 9+. Five Stars.

 Fearless by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.41 | 83 ratings

Family Eclectic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The first thing I want this band to be remembered is their amazing debut Music in a Doll's House (1968) that mixes psychedelia, bluesy rock, pop, folk and sonic experimentalism to form a truly innovative and progressive-minded milestone album. Next albums may have elements that place Family more firmly in the prog genre, but especially in the new decade the band -- with continuous changes in their line-up -- seemed to lose the spark more and more with each album. Also the prog flavour, or as another reviewer here says, the surprising moments, decreased radically. Rather the surprises were lackluster songs toying with country music or old-fashioned entertainment vocal music. For me the least interesting albums are those following Fearless: Bandstand (1972) and It's Only a Movie (1973), after which Family called it a day.

By the way, this is the Family album that introduced ex-Mogul Thrash and soon-to-be King Crimson member John Wetton as their new bassist. Better not to expect much from that fact, though. I remember (I was 18 or 19 when I bought a cheapie vinyl pairing of Fearless & It's Only a Movie) being disappointed in this sense, having just found King Crimson and Wetton's marvelous contributions in it. He's not credited in song-writing here; apart from a couple of tracks written by keyboardist Poli Palmer, all songs are by vocalist Roger Chapman and guitarist John "Charlie" Whitney, as usual.

The opener 'Between Blue and Me' has nice dynamics between the calm, acoustic start and the ballsier approach centering on Whitney's mean guitar. 'Sat'd'y Barfly' is a tongue-in-cheek saloon song in which tuba, clearly attempting to sound humorous, is criminally overused. 'Larf and Sing' is among the highlights in all its lightness, and in the amusing chorus also Wetton's voice is heard, as well as in the more rocking 'Spanish Tide' that has good-sounding electric piano & harpsichord parts. 'Save Some for Thee' is a totally unimpressive filler. 'Take Your Partners' starts as very funky and contains inspired jam-like playing. Not a great song per se, but it's full of jazz rock energy, joined by Chapman's raspy vocals.

'Children' is a brief, simple and sincere acoustic song, pretty warm-hearted actually. Palmer-penned 'Crinkley Grin' is a vibraphone-centred one-minute instrumental with a slight Gentle Giant feel. A pity it wasn't worked to its full potential. 'Blind' is another mediocrity, again there are some interesting details in the arrangement but they can't hide away the composition's weakness. The best is fortunately saved for last. Dark-toned vocals and atmospheric guitars & keyboards make 'Burning Bridges' the strongest track on the album. Easy Livin' associates it with Strawbs ('Cannon Dale') and I agree.

Fearless is indeed quite uneven, but not as weak as I remembered. That makes three stars so and so.

 A Song For Me by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.33 | 78 ratings

A Song For Me
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by jamesbaldwin

4 stars The Family is a great art rock and pioneeristic prog rock band.

I think the Family is one of 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 music of 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 more your lung (and heart) than your brain. Anyway, this music touches you in a surprising way, full of strength and intelligence.

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

"A 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 greatest 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. Vote 8,5. 2) "Some Poor Souls". Short acoustic folk song. Delicious. Vote 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. Vote 6,5. 5) "Wheels". Another great hard folk song. Excellent work of guitarist Whytney. Vote 8+.

End of side A.

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. Vote 8. 7) and 8) are two closed short songs (Hey - Let It Rock; The Cat and The Rat), the first with vibes, the second of classic rock. This moment is the easier of the album. Vote 7+. 9) "93's O.K. J" is an instrumental, and very strange folk song, with optim melody and improvisations. Vote 7+. 10) "A Song for Me". Maybe the longer song of the 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, and avanguard sounds with the violin; the song give you power. Vote 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.

Medium Quality: 7,64 Vote: 8,5 Four stars. Listen to, and re-listen to Family music!

 Music In A Doll's House by FAMILY album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.94 | 152 ratings

Music In A Doll's House
Family Eclectic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

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
3.39 | 87 ratings

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 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.

Thanks to alucard for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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