Monday, 23 April 2018

Family "Family Entertainment" 1969 UK Prog Rock


Family  "Family Entertainment" 1969 UK Prog Rock
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Family’s second album sees the same line-up as it was on the debut album, but this sophomore effort is rather different than its rookie predecessor. I would not really say that it is less inspired, but it is definitely inconsistent even if there are some major highlights, but overall, I ban only think of this album as a deception. I never really understood exactly what this was about, but apparently this album was a base for a live concept with outside artists intervening on stage, but there is no clear (or at least obvious) link between the different tracks on this record. 
There are some real pearls on the album such as the opening The Weaver’s Answer and the closing Emotions with its great instrumental finale. Others include the short instrumental and eastern-influenced Summer Of 67 - which is more reminiscent of the debut album) and Face In The Clouds with its sitar dominated mid-paced ballad, but the real gem on the album is the politically conscious How-Hi-The- Li that hints towards the best Traffic moments. 

The rest of the tracks are IMHO sub-standard Family songs and seem completely uninspired even if the Grech-penned Second Generation Woman was a minor hit with its strong power chords. Dim is a rather awful country-esque track and the pastoral From Past Archives is very average with superfluous string arrangements, Processions fails to raise the slightest interest in this listener’s mind and the Observations seems to have been written from a pit rather than on top of a hill. 

I am not too sure this album got another recent release on Mystic records (as did all of the following albums) but if it were, there would tons of singles material added as bonus tracks since they made a few non-album singles. If I seem rather severe with this album, it is because it is sandwiched between two much better albums and there are some rather weak tracks and those outnumber the three real gems/ Weaver, Emotions and How-Hi….by Sean Trane …~



(You’ll have to excuse me if I attempt to delve into the philosophical motives behind some of the instrumentation on some of the songs. Other bands have chroniclers to explain WHY they did what they did when they did it, I somehow doubt Family has anyone like that. Guess that’s me.) 
It seems that while Ian Anderson was still singin’ the blooz (not that he’s ever stopped), Roger Chapman and his ragged gang of mobsters had already written Thick as a Brick! Alright, probably not true, but I swear that between “The Weaver’s Answer” and “Processions,” you have the whole of Gerald Bostock’s life’s philosophy. 
This album is a kind of letdown after Music in a Doll’s House. I mean, in several ways, it’s an improvement. The songs are a little more, uh, “Family oriented,” and the musicians all play tighter and more naturally. Plus, the quality is cleaner here, Doll’s House sometimes sounded a little muddy. Oh, and, the cover’s way cooler. They’re spoofing the Doors’ “Strange Days,” am I right? 
However, the near immaculate consistency of Doll’s House is gone on Family Entertainment. The songs still flow naturally, but sometimes without much connection. And there’s filler! I swear it, there weren’t no filler on that last one. However, in reality, it’s not much of a drop; what Entertainment lacks in consistency, it makes up in pure song power. 
Simply put: you cannot hate an album that opens with a number like “The Weaver’s Answer.” Okay, wait a minute, actually, you probably can. If you hate all things Family; namely, that weird blend of the artsy and the rootsy, multiple instrumentation almost to the point of uselessness, and of course, Roger Chapman on vocals. As for me, I love all that crap! Bring it awn! 
“The Weaver’s Answer” opens with a little hushed, mystical mantra, but very quickly becomes a driving, somewhat trippy, somewhat acoustic march. Love that rhythm section. Then there’s pretty much some soloing, saxophone and cool, watery guitar, and then back to the march again. I LOVE Chappo here; as he continues listing his life’s events to the “Weaver,” wondering how much impact they’ve honestly had on the tapestry of the universe, he gets angrier and angrier, spitting out the lines with spine tingling honesty. And all the little flute and electric guitar noises that comes from…wherever? Great. Needless to say, it all collapses in on itself, and we start back at the beginning again. Point is, this song rocks. Hard. It’s pretty much brilliant, and I can think of a few “real” progressive bands that would kill for something of its effortless quality. Best song on the album? You better bet. 

“Observations From a Hill” is a nice folksy, acoustic number, but I’m less fond of it. Perhaps because Ric Grech is singing the verses? He reminds me of Geddy Lee on that one; you listen to it and tell me otherwise! “Hung Up Down” brings us back to the patented Chappo growl, and the chorus is actually pretty good. 

“Summer ‘67” is a highlight for sure. It’s an instrumental, but don’t look for any summer of love references here. No, this is a bouncy folk chorus traded off with a decidedly Eastern themed verse, and I DON’T mean sitars and crap, I mean real Middle Eastern violin. Who was doing that at the time? “Kashmir” wouldn’t come out for another half a decade. “How-Hi-the-Li” is just nutso. Which is a good thing. It’s a sort of trippy groove (and listen to the first verse, gotta love the lyrics). 

“Second Generation Woman” is probably the least attractive tune on the album, a difficulty we really didn’t have to encounter on the first record. It’s a rough rocker, but it’s also melodyless. Pity, the soloing is probably the best on the album. “From Past Archives” is one of the weirdest numbers, in a way. I mean, the rootsy harmonica and the medieval harpsichord? And then the jazzy sax soloing? It’s a cute number, don’t get me wrong, but when the violin comes in it seems a little overstuffed. Great vocals though. 

Now “Dim” is a truly catchy harmonica and banjo driven rocker about the dangers of…uh, loving with the lights off? Or maybe the dangers of loving with the lights ON. Point is, it’s fun. Nice soloing, and I love the descending riff. And “Processions” is the last great number on the album, a truly gorgeous tune. It’s the downbeat little tale of a kid on the beach. Tender vocals and sax, and that piano that comes in for the second verse represents water (change?), doubtlessly, but just dig those classy little arpeggios! And the brief coda? Once again, gorgeous. 

The final two numbers are…I dunno, unnecessary? “Face in the Cloud” if a pure filler tune, seemingly designed around that damn sitar! What, were you obligated to have a sitar tune in '69 or something? Regardless of sitars, the tune itself is fairly lifeless. There’s nothing wrong with “Emotions,” but it’s also a little…lifeless. It’s a nice enough song from a technical point of view, the little ascensions played with the rhythm and blues melody, and is that a steel drum in the background? Still, it feels a little…fake somehow, don’t you think it would have been better to close with “Dim” or something? 

So you see what I mean this being a letdown from Doll’s House? One thing that might not be so obvious is the variety; since this album is more smoothed out, it also means that Family have stopped running in all directions trying to find something to grab onto. Of course, Family are a naturally varietous band, so eclecticism lovers need not worry that much. 

But more pressing is that Doll’s house didn’t have any filler like “Emotions” or “From Past Archives” on it, nor anything just plain bad, like “Second Generation Woman.” Of course and on the other hand, it didn’t have anything gorgeous like “Processions” or anything…well, ANYTHING like “The Weaver’s Answer” on it neither. In fact, I’m having some trouble thinking of a lot of other records that have something like “Weaver” on 'em too. 

In the long run, what am I talking about anyway? For one thing, Doll’s House was so near to perfection it would have taken a Thick as a Brick to improve upon it anyway, and besides, Entertainment is still as good as some bands are ever capable of doing. And I think that everyone needs to hear “Weaver’s Answer” at least once in their life…..by The Whistler …~


Second album from 1969 named Family entertaiment of the mighty Family band. This second album I think is a little better then the first one, the ideas and the playing are more consistent then on previous one and even better then a couple of next albums at least for me. One of the most underrated bands from the old school, strange because they’ve done some incredible albums in the late '60 and early '70’s. They never reached the vame like others bands from that period, trying to survive in the shadow of big names, they are not even in the same pantheon with Van Der Graaf Generator, it’s a shame. With all that they recorded at least 4 classics (first 4) and essential albums for every serious listner. One of them is Family entertaiment, this album is one of my favourite albums of them. Explaining why, because i really love the voice of Roger Chapman, his unique way and manner of interpretation and the musicianship is very ok . The best pieces are The Weaver’s Answer , the instrumental Summer '67 and How-Hi- The-Li a strange but very unique piece. So a big 3 stars for this one, good to my collection and maybe for some of you. Many of the conoseurs of prog stay away from this band because of Roger Chapman’s voice, strange but very unique in same time.3 stars, a good album for sure, nothing close to a masterpiece but a pleasent and very entertaining album in the end…. by b_olariu …~


The biggest change of direction in FAMILY’s output is probably here, in their second album. Whereas the extremely interesting debut Music In a Doll’s House (1968) was quite an experimental stir of psychedelia, pop, blues and Proto Prog, this one is more even, no doubt more commercial and “easier”, and resembling more of the later FAMILY albums in style than of the debut. Now, doesn’t this sound as if this was a notably weaker album? Funny thing is that it isn’t! It may not include as great and innovative moments, but it’s a pretty good collection of solid songs, more or less progressive in nature, finely produced and played. In some way it definitely was a step forward, also as a product of a seriously taken PROG band (and as far as I’m concerned, they didn’t take any bigger steps later on…), though of course it misses the more unique charm of the debut. But it has a different kind of charm. I think it’s my second favourite, right after the debut, in their catalogue. 
The songs are all fairly good, if not very good. The atmosphere is mostly a bit lighter or happier, but not to a degree of being dull. There are various moods as well. One standout track is the opener 'The Weaver’s Answer’, in which the famous larynx of Roger Chapman works best. Some songs are sung by guitarist John Whitney (there’s also an instrumental or two) and that too brings some variety. 

FAMILY made several fantastic songs also on their later albums, but none of them is as finely crafted from the beginning to end as this one. A safe choice, if not half as unique as the debut….by Matti …~


Having burst onto the British rock scene with 1968’s eclectic psychedelic debut 'Music In A Doll’s House’, Family, a group who have always defied easy categorisation, performed a characteristically abrupt about-turn with the release of this follow-up effort 'Family Entertainment’. Issued in 1969 with sleeve art directly parodying The Doors 'Strange Days’ album, this sophomore release for the most deliberately eschewed the acid-rock overtures of its predecessor, instead producing a more song-orientated album that reflected the various band members love of folk, blues and rock 'n’ roll. A veritable melting pot of ideas, 'Family Entertainment’ may just be the most atypical of all Family albums, showcasing the rich and unique mixture of styles that saw the group positioned alongside many of the same era’s progressive rock acts. The progressive rock tag is, of course, rather misleading, yet whatever genre you may think Family inhabit - whether it be art-rock, acid-rock or psychedelic blues - there is no denying that this one of the few outfits capable of producing an utterly original sound thanks to the winning blend of Roger Chapman’s throaty vocals and the multi-instrumental talents of his bandmates. Whilst 'Music In A Doll’s House’ certainly leant towards the more lysergic end of sixties rock, 'Family Entertainment’ instead serves up a colourful jaunt through a veritable mix of sonic territories, taking in rustic ballads, avant-garde rock stomps and bluesy pop numbers to name just a few. Highlights include the rousing fan favourite 'The Weaver’s Answer’, a tune which would quickly become a live staple; the brassy, head-nodding 'Hung Up Down’; the jazzy and atmospheric 'How-Hi-The-Li’; and the mid- Western cowboy drawl of the delightfully bouncy banjo-strummed 'Dim’. Its a heady experience, and like many of the best records this gets better with each additional listen, the dense instrumental passages constantly throwing up new surprises for the eagle-eared listener. A true original then from one of the great cult groups, 'Family Entertainment’ is best described as an album full of character and charm; although it may not be progressive rock per se, this is still inherently progressive music chock full of creativity. In a word: excellent. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012…~


Some weeks ago, a friend who has recently divorced from his Prog listening wife, sold me some of the albums she left in the house before moving to another country, among this records I found the first two releases by FAMILY. Music in a Doll’s House didn’t impressed me too much (good but not essential) so with little expectations listened Family Entertainment, but the surprise was monumental, I couldn’t believe that a Psyche band could progress to a strong Proto Prog release in less than a year, but without losing the charm and freshness of the debut. 
If the first album was a classic exponent of late Psychedelia, Family Entertainment is a nice blend of sounds, atmospheres and genres, we can listen some remains of the original style, carefully blended with Hard Rock and some sort of early Prog Folk, that is simply delightful. 
The album is opened by The Weaver’s Answer, a mysterious blend of every influence the band could had found in those days, from JEFFERSON AIRPLANE to early JETHRO TULL with a touch of Blues and Jazz, all enhanced by the dramatic voice of Roger Chapman who cam express and transmit strong feelings with unusual capacity. The interplay between the powerful vocals, distorted guitar and a soft flute is addictive from the first to the last note?.Really impressive. 
Observation from a Hill took me by surprise, because the singer is definitely not Chappman but doesn’t affect the quality of the music, and the folksy violin (uncredited) really is the cherry in the top of the pie, if I had to describe it would have to create some exotic genre as Country Celtic, again they hit the nail in the head. 
Only after listening Hung Up Down, I’m able to notice that Roger Chapman is some sort of masculine version of Grace Slick, they both manage to create a peculiar atmosphere with the fantastic vibrato, but the similarities end there, after a bluesy they morph into some kind of Arabic Folk, that could be an acestor of DEAD CAN DANCE, a mysterious atmosphere that continues along the first part of Summer '67, another song that every Proghead should enjoy. 

How-Hi-The-Li is another song without Chappman in the vocals, and this is a good change, because the deep calmed voice fits much better in this guitar oriented jazzy ballad that somehow reminds me of From the Beginning but more acid and vibrant. For the first time I notice the excellent drumming of Rob Townsend who does an extraordinaire job as a human metronome. 

After the simple but effective Second Generation Woman (just a classic 60’s Rock), comes the eclectic From Past Archives a song that has everything, beginning with a Beatlesque intro, orchestral and almost Symphonic passages and some sort of power ballad with a couple of Twelve-bar blues instrumental breaks, almost like a fusion of ELP and LYNYRD SKYNYRD. 

From this point to the end, we can expect anything, starting with Dim that sounds like a Southern Country Rock with some Heavy fugues, but what I never expected was Processions a clear exponent of mid 60’s British Invasion in the vein of HERMAN HERMIT’S………A demonstration of how unexpected this LP is. 

Family Entertainment, is closed by two different songs, the sitar based Face In The Crowd with the voice of Rick Grech (Bob Dylan anybody?) in then vocals and the atmospheric but vibrant Emotions where we enjoy Chappman’s voice again supported by .dramatic choirs and a fantastic piano. 

Probably for a 21st Century listener, not familiar with the late 60’s, the music could sound dated, but for a fanatic of this transitional era is a must have, so I will go with 4 solid stars….by…by Ivan_Melgar_M ….~


Family Entertainment followed on the heels of Family’s Music in a Doll’s House with the band’s first incarnation: Roger Chapman (harmonica/tenor sax/vocals), Rick Grech (violin/cello/bass guitar/vocals), Rob Townsend (percussion/drums), John “Charlie” Whitney (guitar/pedal steel guitar/keyboards), and Jim King (harmonica/keyboards/soprano sax/tenor sax/vocals). While not totally dismissing their psychedelic leanings, much of the material bears a stronger acoustic influence, in much the same manner as Fairport Convention and Traffic were also exploring. The jazzy sitar lead of “Face in the Cloud” and the even more prominent Eastern-flavored “Summer '67” somewhat date the affair, and are contrasted by the beautifully noir and trippy “How-Hi-the-Li” (which may have been the impetus for Chicago’s “Wishing You Were Here”) and the upbeat “Hung Up Down,” sporting Grech’s unmistakable violin as it wafts over the rural and slightly surreal lyrics. These sides are set against the edgy “Weaver’s Answer,” which immediately establishes a broader spectrum of styles, most notably given Chapman’s commanding if not slightly intimidating vocals. Whitney’s blistering fretwork yields bite to the Grech-penned “Second Generation Woman,” while “Emotions,” another full-tilt rocker, is infused with an apparent R&B homage. Interested parties should note that Family Entertainment and Music in a Doll’s House were issued in a double-disc package featuring a commendable 24-bit digital remastering rendering all other versions useless – especially the early-'90s pressing on the German Line label. Not only are both LPs included, but the 45s “Scene Through the Eye of a Lens” and “Gypsy Woman” are finally brought into the digital domain. The accompanying 40-page liner booklet is likewise a feast for the eyes….by Lindsay Planer…~


Family Entertainment is a good follow up to Music in a Doll’s House. Some days I prefer the approach of Family Entertainment for its straightforward approach and uncluttered structure, other days I prefer the more groundbreaking and more interesting Music in a Doll’s House. I think quality wise they are pretty close together so I would only be splitting hairs trying to decide which is better. As I alluded to I really like the structure of Family Entertainment compared to Music in a Doll’s House. The various ‘Variations on a Theme’ interludes really clog up the flow of the debut but there are no such problems on the follow up. On the other hand Family Entertainment is more of a collection of songs and doesn’t have the “concept album” type feel that the debut had. Unfortunately though Family Entertainment is let down by a few too many weak patches, especially towards the end and doesn’t deliver on the promise of the really good tracks at the beginning. 
As with the debut, one of the features of the album is Roger Chapman’s bleating vibrato vocals. And to be honest, while they remain an acquired taste, they also provide most of the highlights of the album. The first top track is the opening 'The Weaver’s Answer’ which was apparently a live tour de force for the band at the time. I’m guessing it’s a little more restrained here. Tension builds nicely in the poetic verses leading to a mini-crescendo in Chapman’s vocals at the end of each phrase. Most disappointing about the track is the fairly limp instrumental break but otherwise it’s pretty good. 'Hung Up Down’ is a little more light-hearted, being somewhat of a folk jig, but again is taken to another level with an amazing vocal performance. The vocals handle the complex melody with ease, and it works really well with the unusual turns of phrase. The other really good track 'Emotions’ is also dominated by Chapman’s voice, but this one also features some amazing keyboards and a really cool soaring coda. 
The tracks sung by Rick Grech (I’m guessing) such as 'Observations From a Hill’, 'Second Generation Woman’ and 'Face in the Cloud’ might be seen as a bit of respite if you don’t like Roger Chapman’s voice. To me Grech’s voice is pleasant with typical English intonation but is ultimately fairly dull and Chapman’s acrobatics are far more interesting. The completely straightahead hard rocker 'Second Generation Woman’ is the most surprising song on the album but also one of the most boring being completely generic and listless. Also the results are fairly boring where Chapman’s vocals are more normal such as on 'How-Hi-the-Li’. I also can’t stand the lyrics on this one, made all the more worse with the faux solemn vocal delivery. 
After a fairly strong first half of the album, things do drop off a bit towards the end. 'Dim’ is very bland soft country rocker, 'Processions’ is similar but a bit softer and better (there’s some overuse of harmonica on a few of these tracks). The eastern tinged 'Face in the Cloud’ is okay but the album does feel like its running out of steam with these three tracks in a row. It’s only the closing 'Emotions’ that saves things somewhat….by…Bitterman ..~


Family’s second studio album Family Entertainment isn’t as psychedelic rock oriented as their debut album is. It’s more progressive than their first LP. Music in a Doll’s House also included some hints of progressive rock which was about to be born some time later. These songs might be even more diverse than in their debut recording which is nice I think. 
It’s not that easy to pick my favourite songs of this album. But for example the opener “The Weaver’s Answer” and “How-Hi-the-Li” represent the best material this album has to offer. Both songs are pretty much perfect proto-progressive rock songs in my opinion. Even if there’s not as many songs in this album than in their first record this one feels a bit more unbalanced totality. 
I could rate this one with either four stars like I did with their debut LP or I could give it 3,5 stars because I don’t enjoy it as much as I enjoy Music in a Doll’s House. I guess I’m gonna go with 3,5 stars this time. The album is good and some of the songs are really powerful there’s no denying that. But as a whole this is just a bit weaker than their first album. Though this is a possible future four stars album…..by…CooperBolan …~



Line-up / Musicians 
- Roger Chapman / vocals, percussion 
- John 'Charlie’ Whitney / guitar, piano , organ 
- Jim King / tenor & soprano saxophones, harmonica piano, lead vocals (2) 
- Rick Grech / bass, violin, lead (6,10) & backing vocals 
- Rob Townsend / drums, percussion 

With: 
- Nicky Hopkins / piano 
- The Heavenly Strings / strings 
- Tony Cox / string arrangements






A1 The Weaver’s Answer
A2 Observations From A Hill
A3 Hung Up Down
A4 Summer '67
A5 How-Hi-The-Li
B1 Second Generation Woman
B2 From Past Archives
B3 Dim
B4 Processions
B5 Face In The Cloud
B6 Emotions 

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