Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography



Eclectic Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Family Music in a Doll's House album cover
3.97 | 193 ratings | 18 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

Buy FAMILY Music
from partners
Studio Album, released in 1968

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Chase (2:14)
2. Mellowing Grey (2:48)
3. Never Like This (2:17)
4. Me My Friend (2:01)
5. Variation on a Theme of Hey Mr. Policeman (0:23)
6. Winter (2:25)
7. Old Songs, New Songs (4:17)
8. Variation on a Theme of the Breeze (0:40)
9. Hey Mr. Policeman (3:13)
10. See Through Windows (3:43)
11. Variation on a Theme of Me and My Friend (0:22)
12. Peace of Mind (2:21)
13. Voyage (3:35)
14. The Breeze (2:50)
15. 3 x Time (3:48)

Total Time 36:57

Bonus tracks on Pucka 2012 release:
16. Scene Through the Eye of a Lens (1967 single) (2:52)
17. Gypsy Woman (1967 single) (3:25)

Line-up / Musicians

- Roger Chapman / lead vocals, harmonica, tenor saxophone
- John 'Charlie' Whitney / lead & steel guitar
- Jim King / tenor & soprano saxophones, harmonica, vocals
- Rick Grech / bass, violin, cello, vocals
- Rob Townsend / drums & percussion

NOTE: Mellotron, trumpet, etc. (uncredited)

Releases information

Artwork: Peter Duval (design) with Julian Cottrell (photo)

LP Reprise ‎- RLP 6312 (1968, UK) Original, in Mono (cover w/ Reprise logo)
LP Reprise - RSLP6312 (1968, UK) In Stereo

CD See For Miles - SEE CD 100 (1987, UK)
CD See For Miles - SEECD 100H (1998, UK) Remastered SBM 20-bit
CD Pucka - PUC 801 (2012, UK) Expanded w/ 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to alucard for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy FAMILY Music in a Doll's House Music

FAMILY Music in a Doll's House ratings distribution

(193 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

FAMILY Music in a Doll's House reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars A lot of progheads will discuss endlessly about whether Family is progressive or not , but by the time their debut album was released in 68 , they were certainly considered groundbreaking and considered as one of the leading exponents of the underground scene (the first name of the Prog rock or art rock back in the 60's) and throughout their career, all of their albums (bar the last one) will hold some interest for progheads. One of the main characteristics of Family is the strangulated vibrato voice of their manic/frantic frontman Roger Chapman, but reducing this group to just that would be of a great injustice. Many great musicians came and went but the nucleus of Chapman, Townsend and Whitney remained to assure constant quality. Their unique sound was due to a rather odd line-up with Jim King as wind player but Grech also doubling on bass and strings. Unfortunately both will leave relatively soon in Family's career.

Their stunning debut came as an electroshock to the rock public, somehow hovering between Traffic's early albums and the Moody Blues early classic era. If many prog rock fans shoot at Genesis's debut album as wannabe Moodies, clearly Gabriel and Banks had listened to this album also, since FGTR is much closer to it than any of the Moody Blues album. But MIADH is stylistically close to Traffic's Mr. Fantasy also the fact that it was produced by Traffic's Dave Mason being no stranger to this resemblance of course. Not widely known is that Chapman also played sax and there are some unaccredited Mellotrons and sitars on the album, but my guess is that Mason was the culprit for these. There are 12 full tracks (one from Dave Mason) plus three reprises or variations of existing songs (actually they do not bring much more and help confuse the album a bit) and the mood is rather psychedelic but also downright progressive. Many excellent and catchy moments on the album, most notably The Chase, Me My Friend, Winter, Policeman, Voyage and Peace Of Mind.

What must be said to young progheads discovering Family is that this album has not aged that well - a thing that can be said about a few albums of that period due to production means but also some artistic choices (such Curved Air's Air Conditioning for example) although the remastered version does help a bit. Nevertheless, Family's debut album is a historically important (and the historians stating KC's ITCOTCK as the start of prog rock better look again at this baby) and it easily deserves its fourth star.

Review by Matti
3 stars In short: an absolutely unique & adventurous debut of (as early as) 1968. After buying this LP in '90 I was so impressed that I hoped Family would enter my list of prog favourites. Unfortunately all the other albums I've heard have been disappointments and in few years I got quite tired of listening to this too. But I still feel some speciality about this crazy album. The voice of Roger Chapman (a sheep-like vibrato!) fits nowhere better than here (with a possible exception of Mike Oldfield's 'Shadow on the Wall').

Others have described the music well (a mixture of psychedelia, blues, etc). I'm concentrating on those 'magical' moments I personally felt. Curiously all my favourite songs are only about 2 (and a half) minutes long. 'The Chase' opens the album wonderfully, setting the strange, haunting, dreamlike atmosphere. A pity you can't see the back cover picture, because it reflects the mood: an autumnal countryside landscape with grey fields and a wet road on which a doll wearing a pretty blue dress rides a toy bicycle. 'Mellowing Grey' is a soft but strong-mooded piece with Mellotron. Then comes very nice & hippy 'Never Like This' written by Dave Mason (TRAFFIC).

And then another personal highlight: 'Me My Friend'. Pure melancholy magic, as well as 'Winter' ("wish that I could hibernate, go to sleep and never wake, til the sun comes shining once again"). It's hard to explain how these tiny songs take you somewhere no other music takes you. The cover arts by Paul Whitehead (Trespass, Nursery Cryme, etc) or paintings of Balthus share a certain atmosphere. Not that the hilarious doll's house picture (band members included!) wouldn't be psychedelic enough for this album.

The second side always pleased me less than the first. It's more edgy, rough and noisy and partly makes my ears suffer. The 'proggiest' moments are probably in 'Peace of Mind/Voyage' that sounds almost like King Crimson at their most aggressive. But then the mellow ones 'The Breeze' - featuring a pizzicato Big Ben tune - and '3 x Time' leave a nicer taste. But actually the magic of Side One is mostly absent on the second side.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars It could have been "The white album"

Family's first album was released way back in 1968, long before Prog was even a glint in the eye of the bands who pioneered it. Bearing that in mind, this album is astonishingly ahead of its time while paradoxically now sounding rather dated.

Take the opening track "The chase" for example. It is a melodic pop song with a bizarre Floydian ending. Roger Chapman's quivering vocal is unique but alluring, adding great colour to the 15 tracks included here. The songs are all short, the shortest is 23 seconds, and by today's standards under-developed but there is so much potential here. "Mellow grey" has some delightful unaccredited mellotron orchestration (the Family website suggests it may be Nicky Hopkin) giving the track a dreamy, psychedelic atmosphere. That atmosphere is even more pronounced on the Traffic like "Never like this". The Traffic similarity is perhaps to be expected, given that the album was produced by Dave Mason, who also wrote the song. Roger Chapman however is reported as "hating" the song which he felt was out of character for the band. That aside, as Mason had just left Traffic with a view to moving into record production, the timing was fortuitous to both parties.

"Me my friend" features some good old fashioned phasing and a Bee Gees like vocal on the verses, contrasting well with Chapman's singing on the chorus. "Winter song" returns to the Barrett era Pink Floyd style, but once again Chapman's vocal gives the track some incredible colours. "Old songs new songs", which gave its name to a fine Family compilation a few years later, is a shuffling, rather bluesy number with horns and a gradually more intrusive beat. The development of the track is notable, especially in view of by how much it predates similar sounds of the early 1970's.

"Hey Mr. Policeman" returns to the bluesy feel, this time in a more downbeat swamp rock way, perhaps inspired by or inspiring Creedence Clearwater Revival. "See through windows" has a passing similarity with Iron Butterfly's "Termination" from the same period, the mellotron once again making a welcome but anonymous appearance.

"Peace of mind" is a wonderful, upbeat piece of psychedelia, which Chapman's quivering voice performing at its absolute peak. Rick Grech's violin on the track and the Moody Blues like harmonies blend well with the Uriah Heep like screams to create a sensational but criminally short song. "The voyage" is the most adventurous and least structured song on the album, with jazz like instrumentation alternating with almost a-capella verses. Ironically, the mellotron here is very similar to that on the Moody Blues song of the same name.

"The breeze" moves gently along to a tick-tock rhythm the song having a "Strawberry fields" like feel. Not the most inspired track on the album, but a pleasant diversion. We close with "3 X time", a song which starts softly then goes through a number of time and style changes in less than 4 minutes. The abrupt ending suddenly restarts as the closing section of the British national anthem! The interlude pieces, "Variations on a theme.." are too brief to be of much interest, acting as little more than link tunes.

For a first album, and bearing in mind the year this was released, "Music in a dolls house" is an astonishingly advanced album. It may not contain any hit singles, and is largely forgotten in the history of rock, but the reality is that it is a landmark album. It now sounds very dated, but the inspiration and pioneering attitude which dominates the album makes it an essential listen for all those interested in the roots of prog.

Legend has it that the Beatles were considering using the "Music in a doll's house" title for what became known as "The white album", but Family beat them to it.

Review by The Whistler
5 stars The Moody Blues have “Nights in White Satin.” Procol Harum have “Whiter Shade of Pale,” but are quite less remembered. Pity that; they’re a much better band.

Wait, this is a Family review, ain’t it? What does Family got? Uh...”The Weaver’s Answer?” Try looking for that through your local ringtones. Ain’t on Verizon, that’s for sure, and that’s a real pity. Family were actually a really, really good band, and highly capable of making good music. I have no idea of why they have been cast aside; their debut album (which is technically flawless, by the way), is a hell of a trip, released when hell of a trip albums were in vogue.

Opener “The Chase” is a surprisingly catchy anthem for the album. For something so short, the instrumental sections (just bits really), are surprisingly well thought out. Cool speeding up section at the end. “Mellowing Grey” is a good little bombastic ballad. The use mellotron and the strings gives it that whole Moody Blues feel.

“Never Like This” opens with one hell of a catchy harmonica riff, and then transforms into a folksy, organ backed rocker. Very nice, especially the chorus. The occasional lack of attention to rhyme is also kinda fun. “Me My Friends” has that very stately, medieval opening, and a very stately, medieval verse, but when Cappo picks up the chorus? Fantastic. “Variation on a Theme of Hey Mr. Policeman” is exactly what it sounds like. Short and cool.

“Winter” is a piano led ballad. It’s a little heavier than “Mellowing Grey,” but still quite good. “Old Songs for New Songs” has a quiet false opening, then it transforms into an energetic blues piece. But it has one more transformation to go: what’s with that freaky falsetto chorus? Not to mention that it breakdowns to an equally energetic guitar/sax/harmonica jam at the end. Another short, short instrumental: “Variations on a Theme of the Breeze”

Doll’s House is like Aqualung or Procol Harum in its ability to piss me off with the collection of near flawless tune that makes it hard to choose a best song. In the end, I pick “Hey Mr. Policeman.” Not because it’s the strongest piece on the album, there are too many candidates, but because it happens to be one of the most memorable. It’s a blooz bit that manages to be both dirty and subtle (sax ‘n Chappo respectively), and the violin lines are flawless.

Almost Eastern themed rocker “See Through Windows” is actually really, really good. For one thing, another catchy harmonica riff. Pretty cool drumming too, and pay attention to that middle part where everything falls away but the harmonica playing that riff, and the drums and bass come in on the alternative beats (you’ll know what I’m talking about). I know that’s more standard these days, but c’mon! Who the crap was doing that at the time?!? “Variations on a Theme of Me my Friend” is the only one that sounds utterly different; stoopid sitar.

“Peace of Mind” is a screwed rocker? That’s probably both a really bad, and the best possible description I can come up with. God I love Family. Nice use of violin. We slide seamlessly into “Voyage,” which is, quite possibly, even more screwed up. I guess it’s psychedelia. The mood is unsettling, and the saxes are nearly Crimsonian on that one. Of course, the weird sound effects part might get on your nerves. This eventually leads to “The Breeze,” a startlingly quiet ballad. The chorus is cool, but it’s not quite as nice as “Grey” or “Winter.”

Ah, the finisher. “3 X Time” has a very lovely, medieval styled opening. But then that steady drum attack leads us into...a kazoo led marching band! Then it becomes some bloozy, familiar sounding instrumentation, and then...marching band again! Holy crap, yes! This song is awesome. Dig the ending, by the way. Hilarious.

Now, let’s face it, these guys coulda blowed the Moody Blues out of the water if they’d wanted to take the whole art pop route. Like the Moodies, they have an uncanny sense of making intelligent, but catchy, melodies. However, unlike the Moodies, they are a far more diverse and interesting set of musicians. Oh well, Family was still too weird for the art pop route I reckon. Can you imagine “Goat Man” Chappo singing “Nights in White Satin?” I can, but it’s a little...different...

Simply put, this album is Days of Future Passed with balls. Days has the edge with the whole endless beauty thing, but this album has a sense of humor and killer musicians to boot; the jam at the end of “Old Songs for New Songs” should prove that. Pay attention to ALL the instruments, from guitar to drums, and you’ll see what I mean. Plus, Doll’s House is more “experimental” too! The Moodies never screwed around with bizarre sound effects passages, or the left and right channels like these lads do.

Another thing, this album is much more varietous than it seems on the first listen. Blues, eastern themes, country, hard rock, balladeering folk, it’s all there. It’s just a little...twisted. And, as much as I love ‘em, Family are NOT for everyone. Stomaching the screwed up music is fun enough, but if you can’t sit through Chappo’s vocals on “Me My Friends,” you might as well get your money back.

But if you CAN sit through the twisted tunes and the venomous vocals, you’re in! Dude, this is, like, a forgotten masterpiece of the genre! What genre you ask? I have no idea! I guess something like art rock is vague enough to cover an album as vague as this.

Oh well, I’m rambling. Point is, this sucker is almost flawless. What brings it down that quarter of a half of a point? I can hardly put my finger on it myself. Heh. I guess it just needed “The Weaver’s Answer” on it...

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Music In A Doll's House is the debut studio album from Family. I had never heard about Family before listening to this album and what a shame that is. This is an absolutely wonderful album and an excellent addition to my collection.

The music is a bit hard to describe as there are influences from many genres present on Music In A Doll's House. I would say that the most dominant genre is bluesy rockīnīroll but mind you that itīs done in a sophisticated way that includes sax, flute and even what sounds like a mellotron at times. There is also a healthy dose of psychadelic rock and a bit of jazz and folk thrown in for good measure. The songs are pretty basic rock tunes but with the aforementioned features this makes for a great listening experience.

One of the greatest things on the album is Roger Chapmanīs voice which is really distict and powerful. He sometimes sound a bit like Peter Gabriel when he sings most loud but a singer like Bernardo Lanzetti from Premiata Forneria Marconi also comes to mind. This is mostly due to the extreme vibrato both singers possess and use extensively. Iīm sometimes reminded of another british band and thatīs Audience who has a similar eclectic style.

The musicianship is great and the raw sixties production fits the music well.

This album is a winner in my book and Iīll glady rate it 4 stars. Iīll be looking forward to listening to more music from Family in the future.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars I came in contact with Family in the early seventies when they appeared on Pop Shop, which was a Belgian TV rock programme, featuring live performances in the studio (with audience).

The most impressive feature of the band was the quavering and so special voice of their front man: Roger Chapman. Not truly progressive, their music was still much more intricate than the usual production of those early days of the music we all like.

Each song is on the short side (the shortest one clocking at 22 seconds!) and would have gained in being a little more investigated. There are several songs which are definitely influenced by the Fab Four (Sgt. of course): Mellowing Grey and its wonderful vocal harmonies and some fine mellotron. Never Like This, Winter and The Breeze have this psychedelic and early Floydian touch.

The longest track Old Songs for New Songs is a heavy bluesy rock'n'roll with an upbeat format which quite contrasts with the overall psychedelic atmosphere of this debut which is fully represented by the jazzy / psychedelic Hey Mr. Policeman. I quite like this song actually.

One of the songs I prefer here is Voyage: it has a more complex structure and the mellotron is again highlighting this great number. A bit loose, maybe; somewhat crazy as well (the closing). But extremely original.

It is quite difficult nowadays to imagine the impact that such a band could have had on the rock scene in the late mid sixties. This album hasn't passed the proof of time very well to be honest (See Through Windows). The band threw an enourmous amount of original ideas in here. This album received lots of good critics and reasonably charted in the UK.

Three stars.

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars Like an awful lot of latter sixties albums, Family's debut doesn't hold up particularly well in an age where everything that followed it has come and gone and been burned into our collective consciousnesses. And that's too bad, because the extent to which the band album demonstrated innovation and creativity can probably only be appreciated by real students of the history of rock music, and particularly of progressive rock.

Few bands had made the leap from Southern blues or R&B-based rock by the time this album released in mid-1968. Those that had (Zappa, Pink Floyd) were so far outside the pale that their ability to penetrate the musical conscious of most fans was limited. There were others of course, mostly groups who had vaulted onto the psychedelic bandwagon and were riding that fad into the artistic sunset. Family on the other hand managed to combine a flavor of fusion with traces of British folk, some fairly innocuous rock and just a touch of psych in a non-threatening enough manner to be able to capture some measure of popular appeal. That in itself was quite the accomplishment in the days leading up to the explosion of progressive rock that closed out the decade and consumed contemporary psych in its wake.

This album is a hodge-podge of sounds, beginning with a tepid form of rock on "Never Like This" that was not unlike what acts like the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Manfred Mann and even the Moody Blues rode to the top in their earlier days. From there the makings of a psych standard emerge with "Me and My Friend" and "Winter", but with a depth of musical talent that supplanted nearly everything going on at Haight-Ashbury and other hotbeds of peace-and-love stoner music.

And that's not to say the band left the blues basics behind as they journeyed to musical parts unknown. "Old Songs New Songs" is aptly titled as it combines a tasty blues riff with Roger Chapman's road-weary vocals, surely a voice that both Robert Plant and Bon Scott spent some time checking out as they developed their own rock personas. The soaring saxophone passages give this song a character that was almost unknown elsewhere at the time.

The folk-rock vibe of "Hey Mr. Policeman", "See Through Windows" and "3x Time" belie Dave Mason's involvement with the production of this record, as does what sounds like a faint sitar on "Peace of Mind"; while "Voyage" showed that the band was not afraid to take their music into uncharted territory with a psych-tinged and freeform jazz painted experimental dirge that collapses gloriously into sonic feedback and the sort of rock excess that would characterize so much of what would follow over the next several years. For those who had the chance to hear it then though, this was new and raw and adventurous stuff.

Family never make many inroads in America and had only a modest following in their native UK, but their innovation and therefore influence should not be underestimated now, more than forty years after they burst upon the emerging progressive rock scene. It would be a short and tumultuous road to the disappointing death knell of 'It's Only A Movie' just five years later, but for the time being Family were at or near the top of the progressive heap, along with the Moody Blues and some guys named King Crimson who would remake the genre just fifteen months later. Four stars and highly recommended to students of prog music.


Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Family have made a massive impact on prog rock and were one of the earliest eclectic groups blending many styles together to create innovative albums such as "Music In A Doll's House". This album along with "Family Entertainment" are heralded as the band's greatest triumphs. Roger Chapman's bleating vocals will take some getting used to, in a similar way to Surkamp of Pavlov's Dog, but the music always is nothing less than compelling.

The Chase is a rocker that pounds along quickly with a few innovative time sigs. The dreamy Mellowing Grey is replete with symphonic violin string sounds. The work of Jim King on wind instruments is a key feature of Never Like This and Chapman is more restrained on his overuse of vibrato. Me My Friend is a psychedelic piece with strong influences from the underground culture, with the familiar swishing effect on the vocals prevalent on so many psych treasures of 1968. All of the songs on this album are short and some are really mere snippets or transition points such as Variation On A Theme Of Hey Mr. Policeman. The music is really part of the previous track.

Winter is one of the best tracks with psych reflections of escaping the rat race and system; "wish that I could hibernate go to sleep and never wake until the sun shines once again." The melody on this is certainly infectious with a solid chord progression. I like the way it ends effectively with the wind howling.

The harmonica drives the quirky beat along on Old Songs, New Songs. The wah wah guitar solo of John 'Charlie' Whitney is wonderful embellished with a brass section lending a majestic feel. The sound is like the works of early Chicago or jazz fusion. Another Variation follows and we soon segue to Hey Mr Policeman. This is almost a stab at the system about how policemen hassle the adolescent culture, and they did in the hippy era.

See Through Windows is a very different track on the album, higher vocal harmonies and extremely psychedelic in flavour. The mid section is rather weird in structure, with broken time sigs and fractured rhythms. The lead break is terrific from Whitney.

Peace of Mind has some wacky sections, and the music is rather droning throughout with a sustained organ chord that grates on the nerves. It builds well with time sig changes and some psyched up passages of guitar and quick tempo blasts.

The vocals of Voyage sounds uncannily like early Peter Gabriel and it may be argued he found influences here. Even the structure is akin to Genesis with time shifts in the tempo and metrical figures totally off the scale. It is one of the best Family tracks for certain and perhaps one of their most inventive and experimental. The ending is absolutely of kilter and disconcerting. It finishes with 3x Time that has strange time sigs and a jazzy mid section.

The free form jazz of the album tracks and experimental art rock feel are hallmarks of the album. As a debut for the band this one really announces a new style of music and may be the forerunner to many prog artists. It is an essential album to discover how prog formed in this early phase of the movement. It is albums like this that led to the 70s breakthrough of progressive sounds. Family's influence on prog rock cannot be underestimated.

Review by Warthur
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.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

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!
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.

Latest members reviews

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1481169) | Posted by ross warren | Monday, November 2, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A great poetic mix between Folk, Jazz, Psychedelia, Blues, Rock, Soul, POP and Beat! Ladies and gentleman...: 'Music In A Doll's House'! That I love not only because 'Music In A Doll's House' is one of my first Prog purchases in 1998 but because 'Music In A Dolls House' is a great piece of Pr ... (read more)

Report this review (#221687) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Thursday, June 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This record is sadly the very best thing Family ever did, If you like this then the rest of their catalogue is likely to disappoint. Family where considered one of the most important underground bands of that heady year of 1968 and the resulting recording remains a vital document of the tail end ... (read more)

Report this review (#156125) | Posted by burgersoft777 | Friday, December 21, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is an excellent debut, from a highly influential and innovative prog band. Family, like Traffic were amoung the first 'real' prog bands, with a highly eclectic mix in their music. I fund the music highly exciting after all this is the early, early days of prog that was around the same time a ... (read more)

Report this review (#123033) | Posted by Cheesecakemouse | Tuesday, May 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Family has been a britannic group that have been able to join different kinds of music, from the psichedelic rock, passing for the rock blues and coining, with to the King Crimson, the rock progressive. This happy and perfect union is found in this disc, that it is also the debut job, t ... (read more)

Report this review (#114773) | Posted by Planet_Gong | Saturday, March 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Extraordinary album that carries the psychedelia definitive in prog. The mixed one of blues, rock, jazz and classic music here takes again arthur brown out filters it with groups what beatles and zombies and succeeds to be a lot of folk. Togheter to "in the court of the crimson king" the first disk ... (read more)

Report this review (#60877) | Posted by | Tuesday, December 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of FAMILY "Music in a Doll's House"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.