Family - Music In A Doll's House (1968)

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 Sean Trane (Hugues Chantraine)

Track Listings

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. 3xTime (3:48)


-Roger Chapman/ Vocals
-John ‘Charlie’Whitney/ Guitar, Vocals
-Jim King/ Saxophone, Flute
-Rick Grech/ Bass
-Rob Townsend/ Drums

Releases information

LP Reprise RSLP6312 [1968]
CD See For Miles SEE CD 100 [1987]
CD See For Miles SEECD 100H [1998] (20 bit remastered)

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