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Family - Bandstand CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.47 | 79 ratings

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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

jamesbaldwin | 4/5 |


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