Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1966-67)

- Roger Chapman -- vocals, harmonica, percussion

- Ric Grech (RIP) -- vocals, bass, cello, backing vocals  

- Jim King -- vocals, sax, harmonica, keyboards, backing vocals

- Harry Ovenall -- drums, percussion

- John "Charley" Whitney -- lead guitar, keyboards


  line up 2 (1967-69)

- Roger Chapman -- vocals, harmonica, percussion

- Ric Grech (RIP) -- vocals, bass, cello, backing vocals  

- Jim King -- vocals, sax, harmonica, keyboards, backing vocals

NEW  - Rob Townsend -- drums, percussion (replaced 

   Harry Overnall)

- John "Charley" Whitney -- lead guitar, keyboards


  line up 3 (1969)

- Roger Chapman -- vocals, harmonica, percussion  

- Jim King -- vocals, sax, harmonica, keyboards, backing vocals

- Rob Townsend -- drums, percussion

NEW - John Weider -- bass, guitar, violin, backing vocals (replaced 

  Ric Grech)

- John "Charley" Whitney -- lead guitar, keyboards


  line up 4 (1969-71)

- Roger Chapman -- vocals, harmonica, percussion  

NEW - John "Poli" Palmer -- keyboards, flute, vibe, xylophone, 

   backing vocals

- Rob Townsend -- drums, percussion

- John Weider -- bass, guitar, violin, backing vocals

- John "Charley" Whitney -- lead guitar, keyboards


  line up 5 (1971-72)

- Roger Chapman -- vocals, harmonica, percussion

- John "Poli" Palmer -- keyboards, flute, vibe, xylophone, 

   backing vocals

- Rob Townsend -- drums, percussion

NEW- John Wetton (RIP) -- vocals, bass, guitar  (replaced 

  John Weider) 

- John Whitney -- guitar, keyboards


  line up 6 (1972-73)

NEW - Tony Ashton (RIP 2001)-- keyboards (replaced Poli Palmer) 

- Roger Chapman -- vocals, harmonica, percussion

NEW - Jim Cregan -- bass, guitar (replaced John Wetton)

- Rob Townsend -- drums, percussion

- John Whitney -- guitar, keyboards


  line up 7 (2012-14)

- Roger Chapman -- vocals, harmonica, percussion

- Jim Cregan -- bass, guitar 

- John " Poli" Palmer -- keyboards, flute

- Rob Townsend -- drums, percussion


  backing musicians (2012-2014)

- Paul Hirsh -- keyboards

- John Lingwood -- drums, percussion

- Nick Payne -- sax, harmonica

- Gary Twigg -- bass

- Geoff Whitehorn -- lead guitar, backing vocals






- The Animals

- Asia (John Wetton)

- Ashton, Gardner and Dyke (Tony Ashton)

- Axis Point

- Blind Faith (Ric Grech)

- The Blossom Toes (Jim Cregan)

- The Blues Band

- The Farinas (John Whitney)

- Farm Dogs

- Ric Grech (solo efforts)

- Nicky Hopkins (solo efforts)

- King Crimson (John Wetton)

- Medicine Head

- Mogul Thrash (John Wetton)

- The Moments

- The Rocking R's

- Streetwalkers (Roger Chapman and John Whitney)

- Stud (Jim Cregan and John Weider)

- Traffic

- John Wetton (solo efforts)

- Wetton and Manzanera (John Wetton)



Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Tiitle:  A Song for Me

Company: Reprise

Catalog: RS-6384

Year: 1970

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2448

Price: $20.00




"A Song for Me" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) No Mule's Fool 

The folk-tinged 'No Mule's Fool' was one of the band's prettiest compositions.  It's always reminded me of something Ronnie Laine might have done with The Faces.    Wonder if Dexy's Midnight Runners heard this one ...    The song was tapped as a single in a couple of European countries:

- 1969's 'No Mule's Fool' b/w 'Good Friend' (Reprise catalog number RS 27001)

Neither the video, nor sound quality were great, but YouTube has a 2002 reunion performance:    

2.) Drowned In Wine

3.) Love Is a Sleeper

4.) Some Poor Soul

5.) Whee Is


(side 2)
1.) Second G

In an effort to keep abreast of changing musical tastes, they have banished most traces of psych influences, moving more solidly in a progressive direction, but still with considerable diversity, including country flavor. Their overall appeal has begun a slow, but steady decline as well. Grades - 3 B+'s, 2 B's, 4 B-'s, and a C+, still quite consistent though. This issue came with a lyric insert.
RS 6384 Vinyl LP (1970)
3.00 stars
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  • 3.00 stars A1Drowned in Wine
  • 3.50 stars A2Some Poor Soul
  • 3.00 stars A3Love Is a Sleeper
  • 2.50 stars A4Stop for the Traffic - Through the Heart of Me
  • 4.00 stars A5Wheels
  • 2.50 stars B1Song for Sinking Lovers
  • 3.00 stars B2Hey - Let It Rock
  • 2.50 stars B3The Cat and the Rat
  • 3.50 stars B493's Ok J
  • 4.00 stars B5A Song for Me
The first album to feature John Palmer and John Weider.
Family were always an interesting band, Chapman's voice, the use of vibes, flute, violin et all, and while this album has it's moments and some nice touches, there are no songs that comes right out of those speakers that immediately grab your attention . I enjoy segments rather than the songs as a whole. I should say that "A Song For Me," (probably the nearest we come to single land and strongest track), reminds me a little of Atomic Rooster (well a bit). Thought I'd throw that in.
The 1998 issue contains two bonus tracks, the single "No Mules Fool,"
(3.5 stars) and
its B Side, "Good Friend of Mine," (2.5 stars) the last two recordings to feature Jim King.
To reap it's rewards, file under "stick with it." An album to be digested slowly, with perseverance comes the enjoyment.
4.00 stars
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Il cambio di formazione avvenuto nella band porta in dote sonorità maggiormente orientate verso il rock progressivo.
Nonostante ciò Chapman e soci continuano a mantenersi nel solco del formato canzone (eccezion fatta per il brano che dà il nome al disco), con una serie di tracce che mescolano senza sforzo e con buon gusto folk, psichedelia, country e progressive.

All'interno del panorama del rock dei primi anni '7' i Family si collocano come un gruppo sperimentatore, poco incline a seguire i dettami della moda musicale e in grado di maneggiare i vari stili allora in voga, capace di creare uno stile personale. Ritengo questo un gran merito.
3.00 stars
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Family was a very strange band with a vocalist that takes some getting used to. They play some cool prog rock and the guitar player is very good but this may be their weakest release. Their previous release was their best but this long play doesn't build on it. Too bad!
3.50 stars
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Stabilizing themselves as the weird underground outfit they really have to be.
3.50 stars
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Good album throughout, with the exception of “Some Poor Soul” - but that track is followed by the highlight “Love is a Sleeper”.
A bit weaker, when compared to their previous 2 albums, but still no doubt a must-have
4.50 stars
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Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Tiitle:  Family Entertainment

Company: Reprise

Catalog: RS-6340

Year: 1969

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: minor ring wear; promo sticker on front cover

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: not yet listed

Price: $





"Family Entertainment" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Weaver's Answer (Chapman/Whitney)

2.) Observations From A Hill (Chapman/Whitney)

3.) Hung Up Down (Chapman/Whitney)

4.) Summer '67 (Whitney)

5.) How-Hi-The-Li (Whitney)


(side 2)
Second Generation Woman (Grech)

2.) From Past Archives (Chapman/Whitney)

3.) Dim (Chapman/Whitney)

4.) Processions (Whitney)

5.) Face In The Cloud (Grech)

6.) Emotions (Chapman/Whitney)


A blues-based band with art-rock inclinations, Family was one of the more interesting groups of hippie-era Britain. Fronted by the deft and frequently excellent guitar playing of John "Charlie" Whitney and the raspy, whisky-and-cigarette voice of Roger Chapman, Family was much loved in England and Europe but barely achieved cult status in America. While bands like Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, and the Keith Emerson-led Nice (and later Emerson, Lake, and Palmer) sold lots of records, Family, which frequently toured with these bands, was left in the shadows, an odd band loved by a small but rabid group of fans.

Although the band's first official release was Music in a Doll's House in 1968, the roots of the band go back as far as the early '60s, when Whitney started a rhythm & blues/soul band called the Farinas while at college. In 1966, Whitney met Roger Chapman, a prematurely balding singer who had a voice so powerful that, to quote Robert Christgau, "it could kill small game at a hundred yards," and the two began a creative partnership that would last through two bands and into the early '80s. With Whitney and Chapman leading the way, Family became whole with the addition of bassist Ric Grech, saxophonist Jim King, and drummer Rob Townsend. Within a year they were hyped as the next big thing, and under that pressure and intense British pop press scrutiny delivered their debut record in 1968, Music in a Doll's House. Doll's House is pop music redolent of the zeitgeist: Chapman's voice is rooted in the blues and R&B, but the record is loaded with strings, mellotrons, acoustic guitars, horns, essentially all the trappings of post-psychedelia and early art-rock. Almost completely ignored in the states, Doll's House was a hit in Britain and Family began a string of less art-rock, more hard rock albums that ended, as did the band, with the release of It's Only a Movie in 1973.

After Family's demise, Whitney and Chapman formed the blues-rock Streetwalkers; other Family members (of which there were quite a few in the band's tempestuous eight years) such as John Wetton (King Crimson, Asia) and Jim Cregan (Rod Stewart) went off to find fame and fortune elsewhere. Trivia buffs note: it was Ric Grech who was the first to leave Family in 1969 to become the least well-known member of supergroup Blind Faith. Sadly, that proved to be Grech's biggest mistake, as Blind Faith imploded in a year, and Grech (whose last notable band membership was in Traffic), long plagued by drinking problems, died of liver failure in 1990. Today Charlie Whitney plays in an extremely low-key country/blues/bluegrass band called Los Rackateeros, and Roger Chapman lives in Germany, where his solo career is flourishing. A fine, occasionally great band, Family deserved more recognition (at least in America) than they received. Something that a thoughtfully compiled CD retrospective might rectify.

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.


Family was a British Progressive rock band comprising Roger Chapman on vocals, John "Charlie" Whitney on guitar, Jim King on sax and flute, Rick Grech on bass, violin and vocals and Rob Townsend on drums. While never a big success in the US, Family were quite successful in their homeland and best remembered for vocalist Chapman's "electric goat" vibrato and wild, manic

Family formed in 1967 in Leicester, England, although the basis for the band actually had existed since 1962 when they were known as the Farinas and subsequently The Roaring Sixties. The original Farinas line up featured Tim Kirchin on bass and Harry Overnall on drums with Jim King and Charlie Whitney sharing vocal duties. Rick Grech replaced Kirchin on bass in 1965 and Roger Chapman joined around the same time on vocals. American producer Kim Fowley suggested the band change their name to Family based on their penchant for wearing double-breasted suits giving themselves sort of a mafia appearance--a look they soon abandoned in favor of a more hippy or bohemian image. Shortly after becoming Family, drummer Overnall quit and was replaced by Rob Townsend.

Family's debut single Scene Through The Eye Of A Lens/Gypsy Woman was released by Liberty in the autumn of 1967. While the single received much praise from critics, it received very little airplay, due to its rather complex, uncommercial nature. Family's debut album Music in a Doll's House was finally released in July 1968; produced by former Traffic member Dave Mason. Mason also contributed one composition to the album Never Like This--the only song recorded by Family not written by a band member. Music In A Doll's House charted respectably in the UK and, like their debut single, received praise from the critics as well as getting considerable airplay from well-known British radio personality John Peel. The sound of this album was largely based around Roger Chapman's rather odd vocalizations, Rick Grech's classically trained violin playing and the jazzy reed and horn work of Jim King which, while very psychedelic in nature, sounded far more sophisticated and mature than a lot of other albums of the genre. Some criticised the album for being restrained in comparison to their wild live performances which had gained them a respectable cult following in their homeland. Family's 1969 follow-up Family Entertainment toned down the psychedelics of their previous offering, although it was equally eclectic and complex and featured their first UK hit "The Weaver's Answer".

With the UK success of Family's first two albums, they decided to try to conquer the US, although they were faced with many setbacks which all but killed any chance of a successful career in the States. Before their 1969 US tour, Ric Grech, whose violin playing had been very integral to Family's sound, unexpectedly left to join Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker in the supergroup Blind Faith and was replaced by former Eric Burdon and the Animals bassist John Weider. The biggest blow to Family's US career involved their first concert at Bill Graham's Fillmore East, sharing the bill with Ten Years After and The Nice in which Chapman, during his normal manic stage routine, loses control of his mike stand which comes within inches of Graham. This nearly gets Family pulled from the bill at the Fillmore, although they were spared as long as Chapman performed on stage with his arms pinned at his side. While Family and Graham reconciled their differences, Family's reputation in the US sadly never recovered from the incident. After the tour, Jim King was relieved of his position in the band due to "erratic behavior" and was replaced by multi-instrumentalist John "Poli" Palmer on keyboards, vibes, flute and violin.

With Family's 1970 release A Song For Me, they developed a more aggressive sound, dominated by Whitney's tight guitar lines and Palmer's keyboard and vibraphone work. Family's new line-up and sound gained them an even larger European following and they played at several major rock festivals including the 1970 Isle Of Wight music festival and Holland's Kralingen Festival. Both performances were documented in the festival documentary films Message To Love and Stomping Ground. Family's follow-up album Anyway featured a side of a live performance of new material at Fairfield Hall in Croydon, England, as well as a side of new studio recordings. In 1971 Weider left to join the band Stud and was replaced by former Mogul Thrash bassist John Wetton. Much like Grech in the original line-up of the band, Wetton also shares vocal duties with Chapman. This line-up records the albums Fearless(1971) and Bandstand(1972) which were both quite successful in both the UK and the States.

In mid-1972 Palmer leaves Family and is replaced by keyboardist Tony Ashton, formerly of Ashton, Gardner and Dyke and Wetton leaves to join the newly re-formed King Crimson and is replaced with bassist Jim Cregan. In 1973 Family released It's Only A Movie which would be their final album. Family gave their final concert at Leicester Polytechnic on October 13th, 1973. Roger Chapman and Charlie Whitney continued to record as the Streetwalkers which included former Jeff Beck vocalist Bob Tench.


Family started out as the Farinas, a rhythm-and-blues band in Leicester, England, founded by John "Charlie" Whitney and Jim King, who was the group's lead singer. Rick Grech became the bass player in 1965, and Roger Chapman soon joined to replace King on lead vocals. This allowed King to concentrate on the saxophone (which was his specialty), the harmonica, and occasional piano duties. The arrival of Chapman was a pivotal moment in the group, as he began a songwriting and recording partnership with Whitney that would last well into the seventies - long after Family broke up.

Arriving in London around 1967, they changed their name to the Roaring Sixties, and dressed in twenties-style pinstripe suits. Working on demos with Kim Fowley, an American record producer living in London at the time, they changed their name to Family when Fowley commented that their style of dress made them look like a family of Mafia gangsters. They eventually ditched the suits in favor of casual dress. Family's appearances in Swinging London's club circuit impressed many a listener, including some of the biggest names in British rock. Said John Lennon of the band, "They've got a fantastic blend of sound, the best I have heard in a long time." Chapman became especially known for his gruff, bleating vibrato - his attempt to sound like a cross between Little Richard and Ray Charles.

Shortly after drummer Rob Townsend joined Family in 1967, the group recorded an obscure single for Liberty Records in Britain - "Scene Through the Eye Of a Lens," backed with "Gypsy Woman" - before moving to the Reprise label the following year. Working with Traffic's Dave Mason as their producer, the group recorded their debut album, Music In a Doll's House, thus setting them off on their brief but fascinating musical odyssey.

The Family Catalog

Family recorded seven albums between 1968 and 1973; the first two titles were originally issued in the United States by Reprise Records, and the following five were issued in the U.S. by United Artists Records. Currently, Music In a Doll's House and Family Entertainment are unavailable in the United States, although U.K. compact disc editions of both albums can be found on Internet record retail sites. The remaining five LP's were available in the U.S. from 1998 to 2003 on the Castle Music label, and they have since been reissued by Mystic Records in Great Britain; the Mystic reissues can occasionally be found in U.S. record stores, but they can also be ordered through Mystic's Web site. All seven British vinyl editions (some American vinyl editions differ in song selection from their British counterparts) can be found sporadically on the 'Net or in independent record stores.

These reviews include neither the 1971 greatest-hits compilation Old Songs New Songs nor post-1973 releases such as greatest-hits compilations and radio concert albums. They also do not include the 1992 compliation As & Bs, which mostly featured songs released as singles only; most of the songs from the 1992 album surfaced on the Castle Music CD's as bonus tracks. So a few other tracks are not accounted for here, as they are very rare. I have tried to be as comprehensive as possible with regards to Family's discography in constructing this page, and I apologize for not accounting for everything, but I can only do so much.

(Note: The reviews on this page for Family's five latter albums refer to the Castle Music reissues of the late nineties, which include nonalbum singles and B-sides as bonus tracks. Although Mystic Records in the United Kingdom reissued these LP's with even more bonus tracks later on, I refer to the Castle Music editions because they account for all Family nonalbum tracks, except for one, issued from October 1969 to September 1973 - the Mystic reissues, alas, do not. Therefore, the Castle Music reissues should be considered the definitive ones.)

Family Album Fun Facts

Music In a Doll's House is the only Family LP to feature a song composed by someone outside the band; "Never Like This," written by Doll's House's producer, Dave Mason.

The Beatles planned to call the White Album A Doll's House after the Henrik Ibsen play, but they had to abandon the idea when Family's debut album was released in Britain in July 1968. (The White Album was released that November.)

Co-production from Jimmy Miller on two tracks notwithstanding, Music In a Doll's House is the only Family LP credited to one producer. The follow-up, Family Entertainment, was jointly produced by Glyn Johns and original Family manager John Gilbert. A Song For Me was self-produced by the group, and all successive albums were co-produced by Family and their recording engineer George Chkiantz.

The cover of Family Entertainment, depicting circus performers, was inspired by the sleeve of the Doors's Strange Days.

Bandstand is the only Family LP not to feature an instrumental track.

Most of Family's song were written by the songwriting team of group leaders Charlie Whitney and Roger Chapman, but It's Only a Movie is the only LP comprised entirely of Whitney/Chapman compositions.

After Music In a Doll's House, Family was quickly labelled as a "progressive" rock band, suggesting comparisons to groups like Yes and Genesis. Family's music was progressive in the sense that they tried to expand the boundaries of rock and constantly sought to break new ground. Unlike most of the "progressive," or "art rock" bands that would sprout up in the early seventies, however, Family had no aspirations to classicism or highbrow pretentions. Their attitude was very much a rock and roll one, and their music remained firmly rooted in rhythm and blues - which veteran rock critic Dave Marsh called the taproot of all great rock.

As a result, Family Entertainment, the group's second album, moved toward more straightforward rock while keeping Family's musically adventurous spirit and penchant for eclectic lyricism intact. The group had largely abandoned psychedelia; the music on Family Entertainment included touches of folk and country, and the lyrics focused on aging, childhood daydreams, and rants against the power establishment, among other things. The LP's producers, the great Glyn Johns and Family manager John Gilbert (son of moviemaker Lewis Gilbert, who directed Michael Caine in Alfie), provided a more accessible and less contrived sound for Family than Dave Mason had, and it was also cleaner - though Roger Chapman and Charlie Whitney would later lament that the sound on Family Entertainment was maybe a little too clean.

Family Entertainment shows these five musicians growing steadily. Chapman's vibrato vocals evolve into more of a bleated growl, Whitney's guitar riffs become more inventive, Jim King's saxophone is decidedly funkier, and the already excellent drummer Rob Townsend becomes even more so. The biggest surprises, though, come from Rick Grech; not only does his improved bass work stand out dramatically here, he also wrote or co-wrote four songs on the album and sings lead vocals - sometimes with Chapman, sometimes solo - on these songs. His clear, flawless voice provided an an exciting contrast to Chapman's primal shouting. Jim King contributes a lead vocal as well, on the Whitney/Chapman tune "Observations From a Hill," providing an listen of how the group sounded before Chapman joined and when the band was still called the Farinas.

Family Entertainment opens with the sprawling but irresistable "The Weaver's Answer," a moving tale of an old man a few moments away from death getting to look at his life as a tapestry; the understated English folk arrangement and a blues-based rock undercurrent (with sax solo) set up a wonderful sense of tension. Other meldings of styles prove to be just as successful; "Hung Up Down" provides a madrigal melody juxtaposed against a heavy bass line and one of Chapman's nastiest larynx-tearing vocals in a song attacking the rich and powerful, while "From Past Archives" somehow manages to cut from a soft, slow melody to a hip jazz performance!

Other standouts are the charming country tune "Dim," about a blinded farm boy going into town for a good time, and "Processions," a childlike song about a small boy daydreaming of his life ahead while enjoying a day at the seashore. The best song here, surprisingly enough, is Grech's "Second Generation Woman," a fast heavy rocker that moves like a rocket sled on a rail and features a cheeky vocal from Grech about a woman who "smokes like a man, getting higher than I can" and "looks good to handle from a personal angle." (This song sometimes draws comparisons to the Beatles's "Paperback Writer" in terms of tempo and arrangement.) And check out the fine piano performance from the great Nicky Hopkins on"Emotions," the epic closing cut!

Family Entertainment was released in February 1969 and peaked at number six on the British album chart. At the time, Family's prospects for mainstream success, especially in America, seemed very bright. Ironically, though, they were quickly beset by misfortune. On the eve of their first American tour as a warmup act for Ten Years After, Rick Grech announced that he would be leaving the band for Blind Faith. Grech would stay on during part of the tour while a replacement was sought out, and John Weider would become Family's new bassist midway through the tour, but Grech's failure to give adequate notice efffectively discombobulated Family at the worst possible time. Passport problems had caused the group even more trouble by the time they made their stateside debut at New York's Fillmore East on April 8, 1969, and they were well wound up from their recent mishaps. Their performance at the Fillmore East was so disastrous that Chapman threw a microphone stand in disgust - unintentionally in the direction of Fillmore East impresario Bill Graham. Chapman eventually lost his visa, forcing Family to leave the tour and return home. By the time 1969 was nearly over, Family had endured a nasty split from John Gilbert, had issued a single that tanked ("No Mule's Fool," more of which in the next review), and had seen King leave the band, leading many to assume that Family was through.

Had Family called it quits then, their record output up to that point would have been enough to earn them a respectable place in rock history. But not only were they not finished, they were just getting started!

(Editor's Note: After Blind Faith called it quits, Rick Grech played with various artists. He joined Blind Faith cofounder Steve Winwood and former Traffic saxophonist Chris Wood in drummer Ginger Baker's Air Force. In 1971, Grech then joined Winwood and Wood in a reformed version of Traffic; Grech's stint lasted for a couple of years before he was fired due to his increased drug use. Grech then mainly did session work before retiring from the music business in 1977 and returning to Leicester to sell carpet. He died in 1990 from liver and kidney failure following a brain hemmorhage at the age of 43. It is believed that Grech's drug use from his days as a rock musician led to his death.)

Originally formed in 1962 as The Farinas and then changing their name to The Roaring Sixties, the group settled on the name Family in '67 at the suggestion of producer/songwriter Kim Fowley. Family remained virtually unknown in the U.S. although their wildly eclectic progressive rock made them a hitmaker in the U.K. Traffic's Dave Mason coproduced their debut album with Jimmy Miller. After the release of their second album, 1969's Family Entertainment, the group launched into a U.S. tour. Unfortunately the day before it was to start, bassist Rick Grech quit to join Blind Faith with Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and Ginger Baker. Family's debut peformance at The Fillmore East ended in a fistfight between vocalist Roger Chapman and promoter Bill Graham. A few days later Chapman lost his voice and his visa, and Family returned to the U.K. In '72, Family opened for Elton John but despite FM airplay of 1971's Fearless and 1972's Band Stand, they never found a U.S. audience.
In '73, Family played a farewell concert tour of the U.K. which included a final show in their hometown of Leicester. Chapman and guitarist Charlie Whitney formed Streetwalkers which would include future Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain (Chapman would become highly successful in Germany with his touring group The Shortlist), guitarist Jim Cregan went on to join Steve Harley And Cockney Rebel, bassist John Wetton, who had been with the group from '70 to '71, went on to join King Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep and later Asia. Original bassist Rick Grech passed on in 1990.



Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Bandstand

Company: United Artists

Catalog: UAS-5644

Year: 1972

Country/State: Leicester UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold gimmick cover

Available: 3

Catalog ID: 2633

Price: $15.00



Perhaps due in part to the fact it was recorded without the normal round of personnel upheavals, 1972's "Bandstand" marked a major return to form for the band.  While it may have lacked some of their more creative moves, the results made for their most consistent release, showcasing a distinctive switch towards a commercial, hard rock influenced sound.  Exemplified by the lead off rocker 'Burlesque' and 'Broken Nose', Chapman's unique voice proved well matched to the genre and served as kind of a precursor to his forthcoming post-Family Streetwalkers project.  His warble could still drive the uninitiated crazy (check out 'Coronation'), but for the most part he proved focused and surprisingly tuneful.   (Maybe it was just me but to my ears he occasionally recalled a more greasy Bon Scott.)   That said, there was little chance of confusing these guys for AC/DC.  Bolstered by some pseudo-psych arrangements including backward tapes 'Bolero Babe' was a nifty atmospheric ballad, while 'Glove' and 'Ready To Go' spotlighted the band's R&B roots.  Due in part to the fact it was so different from the rest of the LP and exhibited a little bit of Beatles influence, my personal favorite was the heavily orchestrated closer 'Top of the Hill'.  Sporting some of their strongest melodies and nice performances from the entire line-up this was a good one.  In the States the LP was essentially ignored.  Always loved the gimmick album cover.  


"Bandstand" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Burlesque   (Roger Chapman - John Whitney) - 4:04   rating: **** stars

If you wanted to hear Chapman at his best and his creepiest, then the slinky rocker 'Burlesque' was a good place to start.   There was just something unsettling hearing the man's trembling delivery on this one.   Reprise tapped it as a single throughout the world (except seemingly the US):

- 1972's 'Burlesque' b/w 'The Rocking R's' (United Artists catalog number K14196)   Surprisingly good, YouTube has a 2013 reunion performance:   You Tube also as a clip of Chapman's post-Family band Streetwalkers doing the tune.  If anything, it's even better than the Family version: 

2.) Bolero Babe   (Roger Chapman - John Whitney) - 4:11   rating: **** stars

For a band that didn't exactly accelerate when it came to crafting memorable melodies, the lysergic-tinged 'Bolero Babe" was very much an exception to the rule.  Bassist John Wetton turned in a stunning performance.

3.) Coronation   (Roger Chapman - John Whitney - John Wetton - 3:49   rating: **** stars

Another tune with an unexpectedly touching melody; made just a bit strange by Chapman's shaky voice.  

4.) Dark Eyes   (Roger Chapman - John Whitney) - 1:48   rating: **** stars

Opening up with some lovely Poli Palme piano, 'Dark Eyes' found the band diving into English folk music.   Shame it was such a short performance.   

5.) Broken Nose   (Roger Chapman - John Whitney) - 4:09   rating: **** stars

'Broken Nose' was a great performance it you wanted to hear the power Chapman and company could bring to the table.  Even like the cheesy '70s synthesizer touches Poli brought to the mix.


(side 2)
1.) My Friend the Sun   (Roger Chapman - John Whitney) - 4:20
   rating: **** stars

The Family song for folks who don't like Roger Chapman and Family.  With Chapman sing with an unexpected degree of restraint (John Whitney on harmonies), to my ears 'My Friend the Sun'  has always sound like a great Ronnie Laine song.  English folk-rock has seldom sounded as good as this one.

- 1972's 'My Friend the Sun' b/w 'Glove' (United Artists catalog number K14128)

- 1972's 'My Friend the Sun' b/w 'Glove' (United Artists catalog number UA-XW171W)   YouTube has a clip of Chapman's post-Family Streewalkers performing the tune at a 1975 appearence on the German Rcokpalast television show:  

2.) Glove   (Roger Chapman - John Whitney) - 4:53   rating: **** stars

Excellent blues-rocker with John Whitney turning in what was probably the album's best guitar solo.

3.) Ready To Go   (Roger Chapman - John Whitneyr) - 4:35   rating: **** stars

I've ready 'Ready To Go' was intended as a slam of the music business.  No idea if it's true, but had any other band recorded the rocker 'Ready To Go' it would have been a massive hit.   Another should've been a hit tune ...

4.) Top of the Hill   (Roger Chapman - John Whitney) - 5:41   rating: **** stars

The first 90 seconds of 'Top of the Hill' were probably the most pastoral music the band ever wrote.  From there the song morphed into another surprisingly melodic tune with Chapman actually keeping his voice largely under control.  Nice way to end the album.   


Opening for Elton John (!) the band subsequently toured the US and Canada.  Just when they seemed on the cusp of making some commercial inroads, joining a long list of former members Palmer and Wetton both called it quits.  They were replaced by keyboardist Tony Ashton and guitar player Jim Cregan.  Wetton subsequently reappeared with King Crimson.  


Only 43, a long term alcoholic, Grech died of kidney and liver failure in 1990.  Ashton died of cancer in 2001.





Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Anyway

Company: United Artists

Catalog: UAS-5627

Year: 1972

Country/State: Leicester UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 2634

Price: $15.00



Family's fourth album, 1970's "Anyway" was an odd half live and half studio collection.  Apparently unhappy with their prior studio set, the band reported thought a live album would be a better reflection of their true talents.  Reprise marketing half agreed, allowing for a split album.  Side one featured four tracks recorded at a 1970 performance at Fairfield Hills, Croyden.  While the four tunes reflected new material, some of it quite impressive ('Good News Bad News'), sonically the tunes weren't all that great, suffering from a muddy, bottom heavy mix.  The five studio selections were similarly inconsistent.  Seemingly inspired by an earlier American tour, 'Part of the Load' was one of their best rockers.  The rest of the studio tune underscored the band's penchant for eclectic moves.  The anti-war statement 'Lives and Ladies') recalled something out of the English folk-rock genre.   The instrumental 'Normans' offered up what sounded like a country-hoedown.  And then there was the issue of Roger Chapman's voice.  One of the most divisive instruments in music, you love the man, of he reminds you of a bleating sheep.  You'll have to make up your own mind.


The US pressing included a sticker with the following information: "This album, released previously in England, as available now in the United States for the first time.  Since it was recorded, Family has issued a new album, BANDSTAND, but while they have changed and certainly progressed in the intervening time, this album is a classic example of their unusual, imaginative style.  This album also offers the only available live recordings by Family, one whole side's worth, as well as "In My Own Time" which was not included on the English version.  Not only collectors and Family fans, but anyone who appreciates the unusual in rock, is sure to be grateful that ANYWAY has finally come out."


"Anyway" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Good News Bad News   (John Whitney - Roger Chapman) - 8:06  rating: **** stars

If you've ever wondered what one of those English folk-rock bands would have sounded like if they'd decided to record a hard rock tune, then 'Good News Bad News' might be the place to check it out.  Clocking in at over eight minutes it was way too long, but the good news lay in the fact, for the most part, Roger Chapman mellowed out his strident vocals and the song gave John Palmer the opportunity to pound away on the xylophone and lead guitarist John Whitney plenty of time to show off his chops.  Neither the sound or video quality are great but YouTube has a clip of a very stoned looking Chapman and the band performing an abbreviated version of the tune:  

2.) Willow Tree   (John Whitney - Roger Chapman) - 4:40     rating: *** stars

Geez, where in the work did this one come from?  I certainly never expected to hear Chapman and company taking on a jazzy ballad - seriously.   Not exactly my choice in genres, but give them credit for expanding their musical horizons.

3.) Holding the Compass    (John Whitney - Roger Chapman) - 4:28   rating: *** stars

Introduced by Chapman as a new song, powered by John Whitney's nifty guitar work, 'Holding the Compass' was a surprisingly tuneful slice of English folk-rock.  Chapman's jittery voice meant it was going to be one of those tracks you loved, or just detested.  Not much middle ground on this one.  YouTube has a clip of the band performing the song for French television.  This version is quite a bit more rock oriented that the album version:   YouTube also has a clip of the band performing the song for the German Beat club television program.  This version goes back to the folkier arrangement and is interesting give drummer Townshend's not in the line-up; John Palmer picking up percussion duties. 

4.) Strange Band   (John Whitney - Roger Chapman - Williamson) - 3:35    rating: ** stars

Autobiographical title ???  Weird jazzy jam tune that sounded pretty discordant to my ears.  I'm at a lost as to why it was released as a single throughout Europe:

- 1970's 'Strange Band' and 'Hung Up Down' b/w 'The Weavers Answer' (Reprise catalog number RS 27009)  YouTube has another Rockpalast performance of the song at: hThettps:// 


(side 2)

1.) In My Own Time   (John Whitney - Roger Chapman) - 3:30     rating: **** stars

With Chapman braying in his finest form, you just had to marvel at how this one was tapped as an English single (it hit # 4).  There's simply no way an American label would have even thought about it as a 45.  The strange thing is my American ears initially agreed.  It sure didn't sound very commercial, but over the years I've come to appreciate the fact it was so unique.  For some reason United Artists marketing managers decided to add the song to the US release "Anyway" track listing.  

- 1971's 'In My Time' b/w 'Seasons' (Reprise catalog number K 14090   YouTube has a 1971 Top of the Pops performance of the song at: 

2.) Part of the Load   (John Whitney - Roger Chapman) - 4:38     rating: **** stars

Apparently inspired by their previous US tour, 'Part of the Load' had a fairly conventional "life's-tough-on-the-road" lyric, but the combination of John "Poli" Palmer's jazz keyboards, John Whitney's fuzz guitar, and John Weider's slinky bass line made this one of the album highlights.   YouTube has a promotional video for the song at:: 

3.) Anyway   (John Whitney - Roger Chapman) - 3:30    rating: *** stars

Loved the Whitney's strumming acoustic guitars and the Celtic and African percussion.  

4.) Normans (instrumental)   (John Palmer - John Whiteny - John Weider) - 2;25   rating: ** stars

'Normans' was a strange, quasi-country hoedowni flavored instrumental.  In order to accommodate the addition of the English single 'In My Own Time', the US album featured an edited version of the song.. 

5.) Lives and Ladies   (John Whitney - Roger Chapman) - 6:28   rating: *** stars

With a rather blatant anti-war lyric, 'Lives and Ladies' found the band straddling the musical line between delicate English folk and Whitney-powered blues-rock instrumental section ...  Geez, no wonder these guys had a hard time holding onto an audience.   






Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Fearless

Company: United Artists

Catalog: UAS-5627

Year: 1971

Country/State: Leicester UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gimmick sleeve; original custom, lyric inner sleeve

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 3240

Price: $20.00


Co-produced by George Chkiantz and Family, 1971's "Fearless" was recorded with the band till recovering from their second North American tour.  It also marked a new line-up with original bassist John Weider (off to form Stud) being replaced by former Mogul Thrush multi-instrumentalist John Wetton.   Powered by Roger Chapman's unique voice, I wouldn't argue the album marked a major change in the sound, but at the same time, there was something different - something more open and commercial (I'm using the word in a broad sense), than on their previous four studio albums.   That made this set a good starting point for anyone interested in checking the band out.  Anchored by three of the band's prettiest melodies ('Between Blue and Me', 'Larf and Sing', and 'Spanish Tide') the album was highly diverse, including stabs at everything from a Faces-styled bar rocker ('Sat'd'y Barfly'), to a catchy jazz-rock instrumental ('Crinkly Grin'), and even an acoustic blues tune ('Children').  Chapman remained a unique singer and while there was no way he was going to appeal to all listeners, with the exception of the rocker 'Blind', his vocal excesses were kept in check this time around, possibly making the set a little more palatable to casual listeners.  


The album hit # 14 on the UK charts; making Family's first appearance on the US charts where the set peaked at # 177.


"Fearless" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Between Blue and Me  (John Whitney - Roger Chapman) - 4:59   rating: **** stars

Roger Chapman's voice has always been an acquired taste and I typically have to get myself in the right mood before playing a Family album.  The funny thing is I can remember the first time I heard 'Between Blue and Me' and wondering if I'd really put on a Family album.  One of the prettiest ballads the group ever performed, Chapman started out singing without his usual wobbly phrasing ...  his trademarked vocals kicked in as the song picked up speed and energy, but the first minute was totally unexpected.  I seem to remember reading somewhere the song was intended as a tribute to guitarist John "Charley" Whitney's parents.  Neither the sound, or video quality are very good, but YouTube has a 1971 performance on the English The Old  Grey Whistle Test  Series television show:   YouTube also has a December, 2016 performance:  Yeah, time had taken a bit of a toll on the survivors.

2.) Sat'd'y Barfly  (John Whitney - Roger Chapman) - 4:02    rating: **** stars

Powered by John "Poli" Palmer's barrelhouse piano, 'Sat'd'y Barfly' sounded like Family was trying to out-drink Rod Stewart and The Faces.  It made for an awesome bar band track ...  Easy to picture these guys getting trashed in a corner pub and how many can you think of that feature a funky tuba solo ?   Reflecting surprisingly daring tastes, the track was tapped as a French single:

- 1971's 'Sat'd'y Barfly' b/w 'Spanish Tide' (Reprise catalog number 14 143)  

3.) Larf and Sing  (Poli Palmer) - 2:45    rating: **** stars

For folks who doubted Family found actually write and perform a song with a decent melody, I'd suggest checking out the breezy 'Larf and Song'.  Keyboardist Palmer wrote it and handled the lead vocals.   Worth hearing if only for Whitney's beautiful solo, the stunning a capella chorus, and (for a 50 something year old), the thought provoking lyrics "Life begins to write a book across my face; the stories that are me, the views I hold.  Out years on earth begin to turn into a race and I resign myself to growing old ..."  The song was released as a single in the UK and the US:

UK release:

- 1971's 'Larf and Sing' b/w 'Children' (Reprise catalog number SAM 1)

US release:

- 1971's 'Larf and Sing' b/w 'Between Blue and Me' (United Artists catalog number 50882)

4.) Spanish Tide  (John Whitney - Roger Chapman)- 4:00   rating: **** stars

'Spanish Tide' was another atypical performance in that it featured a beautiful melody showcasing Whitney's acoustic guitar and Palmer on harpsichord.  The combination of Chapman and bassist John Wetton on lead vocals was also surprisingly strong.  YouTube has another The Old  Grey Whistles Test  Series television show performance, though it appears they were lip-synching: (in spite of the sound, no acoustic guitars apparent).

5.) Save Some for Thee  (John Whitney - Roger Chapman) - 3:45   rating: **** stars

'Save Some for Thee' featured an even more mainstream and radio-friendly melody and structure (complete with horn charts).  It made for such an attractive composiiton that you could even overlook Chapman's voice.


(side 2)

1.) Take Your Partners  (John Whitney - Roger Chapman - Poli Palmer) - 6:25   rating: *** stars

Maybe I'm being pompous and taking myself too seriously, but 'Take Your Partners' sure sounded quite progressive to my ears - the band members taking the opportunity to stretch out in what was almost a jam situation.  It was also one of the tracks where newcomer Wetton seemed to have a real influence on the rest of the group.   Initially it wasn't one of the songs that had the biggest impact on me, but the tune had some fantastic lead guitar and grew on me over time.

2.) Children  (John Whitney - Roger Chapman) - 2:20   rating: *** stars

Modestly interesting to hear Chapman taking on a slice of acoustic blues ...  'Children' made it clear he could sing without that weird warble in his delivery.

3.) Crinkly Grin (instrumental)   (Poli Palmer) - 1:05   rating: *** stars

Hearing the jazz-rock instrumental 'Crinkly Grin' I'm always surprised to remember Palmer was also an accomplished vibraphone player.  Shame this one wasn't a bit longer.

4.) Blind  (John Whitney - Roger Chapman) - 4:02   rating: **** stars

Geez, hearing Chapman power up the vocal chords was simultaneously impressive and scary.  Every time I hear the blazing 'Blind' I find myself hoping he doesn't blow out his voice box.  Always wondered about the weird sound effect that opened the song and reappeared throughout the tune - it sounded like someone playing glasses with a wet finger.   Elsewhere what I thought were bagpipes were apparently Wetton on violin.  Cool rocker.

5.) Burning Bridges  (John Whitney - Roger Chapman - Poli Palmer) - 4:00  rating: **** stars

With a modest raga-flavor and a dark and ominous lyric, 'Burning Bridges' sounded like something that might have been recorded in the mid-'60s.  Always loved Whitney's killer mandolin performance on this one.