Family, The


Band members                         Related acts

- Milton Bond -- keyboards, synthesizers

- William Eugene Jackson -- drums, percussion

- Reginald Walter McNair -- lead guitar, rhythm guitar

- Reginald Marsh -- vocals, percussion

- Calvin Tyrone -- vocals, bass, percussion

 

 

- none known

 

 

 


 

Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Music Let It Thru

Company: Little City

Catalog: LC 1502
Year: 1977

Country/State: Washington, D.C. ???

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: 2 inch split on top right seam

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6175

Price: $110.00

I live in Northern Virginia and know a little bit about 1960s and 1970s area soul bands, but have to tell you this outfit's a complete mystery to me (and apparently lots of other folks).  Other than information lifted from the liner notes on their album, I really haven't been able to discover anything about this group.  Shame since their LP is great !

 

To be honest, I'm not even sure these guys were from Washington, D.C.  Their recording debut came with a couple of instantly obscure singles for Jimmy Bishop's small Philadelphia-based North Bay (aka Northbay) label:

- 1971's 'Family Affair' (Instrumental) b/w 'Nation Time' (Instrumental) (North Bay catalog number NB-302)

- 1972's 'Do the Robot, Pt. I' (Instrumental) b/w 'Do the Robot Pt. 2' (Instrumental) (North Bay catalog number NB-304)

 

Five years later they reappeared on Leon Stewart Sr.'s Little City label.  In contrast to the limited bibliographical information I have on the band,  I know that Little City was initially a Washington, D.C. based label that released about a dozen mid--1970s 45s by acts like The All Points Bulletin Band, Del Edwards, Earth Born and The Family.  (In the late 1970s Stewart relocated the label to Charlotte, North Carolina.)  Judging by the roster, The Family was apparently Little City's big hope as it was the only act on the recording roster given a chance to record an album - 1977's Stewart Sr. produced "Music Let It Thru".  

 

As mentioned above, from the liner notes I know that The Family showcased the talents of keyboardist Milton Bond, drummer William Eugene Jackson, guitarist Reginald Walter McNair, singer Reginald Marsh, and bassist Calvin Tyrone.  A self-contained outfit, they wrote all of their own material, with Marsh responsible for the majority of the eight tracks (Brunson and McNair also contributed to writing duties).  Musically the album offered up a prime set of mid-1970s soul and funk.  Nothing here was particularly original and an acute listener would have a blast playing spot-the-influences, but taken as a whole the results were surprisingly strong.  Better known bands recorded best selling albums that stood a poor second to this collection.  As lead singer Marsh was quite good; equally at home on up-tempo numbers like 'And I'm Yours' and 'Trump Tight', or on slower ballads like 'Let It Thru' and 'Flowers of the World'.  Personally I'd give the nod to the band's up tempo efforts since the ballads occasionally strayed into Larry Graham/Luther Vandross 'love man' territory.  Regardless, Marsh's efforts certainly weren't hurt by the rest of the band with guitarist McNair showing a knack for tasty little fuzz solos and bassist Tyrone getting some amazing sounds out of his instrument. 

 

- Opening up with some nice keyboard chords from Milton Bond, 'Music' abruptly shifted gears into a pounding 'message' tune.  The pounding component came in the form of one the 'dirtiest' bass lines I've ever heard.  I'd love to know how Calvin Tyrone got that wild sound out of his instrument.  With Reginald Marsh turning in his toughest vocals (it sounded like he'd been gargling with sandpaper), it was almost impossible to sit still through this one.  Easy to see why Little City tapped this as a single.   rating: **** stars

- Reginald Walter McNair kicked off 'You' with some snarling fuzz guitar and then the song shifted into urgent ballad mode.  This time out Marsh sounded a bit like Larry Graham - that's meant as a compliment.  Great tune.    rating: **** stars

- I'm a pushover for beach music so the breezy 'And I'm Yours' had me from the opening chords.  A near perfect summer number.   Once again I'd loved to know how Tyrone got that sound out of his bass.   rating: **** stars

- 'Let It Thru' found the band blending a pretty synthesizer powered ballad with some Gospel-influenced moves.  Not quite as commercial as the earlier tracks, but still a blast to hear.    rating: *** stars

- The first real disappointment, 'Feeling What You Wanna Feel' was a bland, conventional ballad that suffered under some heavy handed synthesizers and a forgettable melody.  Curiously, tapped as the second single from the album, the 45 credited the song to the album "Feeling What You Wanna Feel".    rating: ** stars

- 'Trump Tight' found the band getting funky.  Great dance track.  Wonder if it was inspired by Donald Trump ...   rating: *** stars   

- 'My Song To You' was a bluesy ballad that took awhile to get going, but eventually generated considerable energy.    rating: *** stars  

- Remember when Larry Graham decided he wanted to become a Luther Vandross-styled balladeer?   Well 'Flowers of the World' sounds like something he might have covered  ...  young women blossoming into flowers, need to feel and touch you ...  yeah you've heard the cliches hundreds of times before.  The end result was a pretty, but overly emotive ballad that seemed to go on and on and on ....   Giving credit where due, I'll admit that McNair turned in a nice, jazzy solo on this one.     rating: *** stars 

 

As mentioned above the album was tapped for a pair of singles:

 

- 1977's 'Music' b/w 'My Song To You' (Little City catalog number LCR 10106)

- 1978's 'Feeling What You Wanna Feel' b/w 'Trump Tight '(Little City catalog number LCR 10108)

 

No, it isn't the perfect soul album (side two bogs down amidst too many slow ballads), but song for song this one's worth looking for.  Shame they didn't get a chance to record another set.

 

"Music Let It Thru" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Music   (Tyrone Brunson - Reginald Marsh) - 4:32

2.) You   (Reginald Marsh - Reginald McNair) - 3:55

3.) And I'm Yours   (Reginald Marsh) - 4:09

4.) Let It Thru   (Tyrone Brunson - Reginald Marsh - Milton Bond) - 6:42

 

(side 2)
1.) Feeling What You Wanna Feel   (Reginald Marsh - Reginald McNair) - 4:10

2.) Trump Tight   (Reginald Marsh) - 4:26

3.) My Song To You   (Reginald Marsh) - 4:28

4.) Flowers of the World   (Reginald Marsh) - 6:13

 

I'm aware of one other Little City non-LP single: 

 

- 1978's 'Queen City (Do the Queen City) (Part 1) b/w 'Queen City (Part 2)" (Little City catalog number LCR-10110

 

 

 

 

 

 

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