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Family - Anyway CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.37 | 99 ratings

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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.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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