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Family - Music In A Doll's House CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.97 | 167 ratings

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Symphonic Team
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.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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