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Family - Fearless CD (album) cover

FEARLESS

Family

 

Eclectic Prog

3.49 | 88 ratings

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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.

Matti | 3/5 |

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