Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Family - Music in a Doll's House (1st Album UK 1968) + Extra BBC Bonus Tracks

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Music in a Doll's House is the debut album by progressive rock group Family, released on 19 July 1968. The album, co-produced by Dave Mason of Traffic, features a number of complex musical arrangements contributing to its ambitious psychedelic sound.

The Beatles had originally intended to use the title A Doll's House for the album they were recording during 1968. The release of Family's similarly titled debut then prompted them to adopt the minimalist title The Beatles for what is now more commonly referred to as The White Album due to its plain white sleeve.

"Old Songs, New Songs" features a cameo from the Tubby Hayes group.

This album was initially issued in the US using the UK import and sold in the US as a domestic album (with an extra piece of cardboard to stiffen up the sleeve). Around the time the second album was issued in the US, US pressings of this album started to appear.

The non-LP single "Scene Through the Eye of a Lens" b/w "Gypsy Woman" not withstanding, Music in a Doll's House (1968) is the debut full-length release from the earliest incarnation of Family, featuring 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). 

Their highly original sound has often been compared to Traffic, which may be in part due to the production skills of Jimmy Miller and Dave Mason, the latter also contributing the organic and rootsy rocker "Never Like This." Additionally, neither band was overtly psychedelic or progressive, contrasting them from the other burgeoning combos such as Soft Machine, Pink Floyd, and Caravan. 

Family's deceptively involved arrangements are coupled with an equally unique blend of Chapman's commanding vocals driving through the jazz and folk-rooted tunes. "The Chase" is a spirited opener that immediately establishes their unmistakable vibe, which is furthered on the sides "Old Songs for New Songs" and the aggressive rocker "Peace of Mind." The antithesis can be heard on the rural-flavored "Mellowing Grey" and "Winter," or perhaps the almost blatantly trippy "See Through Windows." 

BIOGRAPHY: Family were an English rock band that formed in late 1966 and disbanded in October 1973. Their style has been characterised as progressive rock, as their sound often explored other genres, incorporating elements of styles such as folk, psychedelia, acid, jazz fusion and rock and roll. The band achieved recognition in the United Kingdom through their albums, club and concert tours and appearances at festivals.

The band's rotating membership throughout its relatively short existence led to a diversity in sound throughout their different albums. Family are also often seen as an unjustly forgotten act, when compared with other bands from the same period and have been described as an "odd band loved by a small but rabid group of fans". Despite most of their recordings being issued in the US, the band never achieved any appreciable success there. 

Family formed in Late 1966 in Leicester, England from the remaining members of a group that was previously known as The Farinas and later briefly The Roaring Sixties, whose sound was grounded in R&B. The Farinas originally consisted of John "Charlie" Whitney, Tim Kirchin, Harry Ovenall (born Richard Harry Ovenall, 12 September 1943, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire) and Jim King, forming at Leicester Art College in 1962. Ric Grech replaced Kirchin on bass in 1965 and Roger Chapman joined the following year on vocals. The American record producer Kim Fowley suggested they call themselves "The Family" as they regularly wore double-breasted suits in performances, giving themselves a mafia appearance, a look they soon abandoned in favour a more casual dress code. They played the famous Marquee Club regularly and other London clubs including The Hundred Club and the famous Sybilla's in Swallow Street where they met Henrietta Guinness who introduced them into society. On meeting Mim Scala who they had known before, Mim asked if there was anything he could do for them. Because they were looking for material at the time, and probably a producer, Harry Ovenall asked Mim if he could arrange for Jimmy Miller to produce the first single which Mim duly did, and also introduced them to John Gilbert, who from then on took over managing the band. Thanks to Jimmy Miller, Steve Winwood and other members of Traffic participated in the recording. Shortly after the recording and before the release, Harry Ovenall voiced his concern over the movement away from their black musical roots i.e. blues, R&B, soul. 

In fact around 1965 The Farinas had publicity cards saying "Farinas Soul and Roll". The single seemed to be going towards psychedelia, emphasised by the use of a phono fiddle borrowed from an Oxford Street busker, and played by Ric Grech. His concerns also included the role of management in the band. A meeting of the band was called, during which it was suggested that Harry's heart was no longer in the band and as a consequence he walked away from the band. Contrary to several reports he was not asked to leave the band. Family's debut single "Scene Through The Eye of a Lens/Gypsy Woman", produced by Jimmy Miller and released by Liberty Records in October 1967, was not a success. Drummer Harry Ovenall was replaced by Rob Townsend.

The band signed with the Reprise Records label (the first UK band signed directly to UK and US Reprise) and their debut album Music in a Doll's House, was recorded during early 1968. Jimmy Miller was originally slated to produce it but he was tied up with production of The Rolling Stones' album Beggar's Banquet and he is credited as co-producer on only two tracks, "The Breeze" and "Peace of Mind". The bulk of the album was produced by former Traffic member Dave Mason, and recorded at London's Olympic Studios with engineers Eddie Kramer and George Chkiantz. Mason also contributed one composition to the album, "Never Like This", the only song recorded by Family not written by a band member, and the group also backed Mason on the b-side of his February 1968 single "Just For You".

Family made their London debut at the Royal Albert Hall in July 1968, supporting Tim Hardin. Alongside Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, The Move and The Nice, Family quickly became one of the premier attractions on the burgeoning UK psychedelic/progressive "underground" scene. Their lifestyle and exploits during this period provided some of the inspiration for the 1969 novel, Groupie, by Jenny Fabian (who lived in the group's Chelsea house for some time) and Johnny Byrne. Family featured in the book under the pseudonym, 'Relation'.

Music in a Doll's House was released in July 1968 and charted at No. 35 in the UK to critical acclaim, thanks to strong support from BBC Radio 1's John Peel. Now widely acknowledged as a classic of British psychedelic rock, it showcased many of the stylistic and production features that are archetypal of the genre. The album's highly original sound was characterised by Chapman's vocals, rooted in the blues and R&B, combined with several unusual instruments for a rock band, courtesy of the presence of multi-instrumentalists Grech and King, including saxophones, violin, cello and harmonica.

Family's 1969 follow-up, Family Entertainment, toned down the psychedelic experimentation of their previous offering to some extent, reaching No. 6 in the UK Albums Chart, and featured the single "The Weaver's Answer", although the group reportedly had no control over the mixing and choice of tracks, or the running order of the songs.

With the UK success of Family's first two albums, the band undertook a tour of the United States in April 1969, but it was beset by problems. Halfway through the tour, Grech unexpectedly left the band to join the new supergroup Blind Faith; on the recommendation of tour manager Peter Grant, Grech was replaced by John Weider, previously of Eric Burdon and The Animals. 

A further setback occurred during their first concert at Bill Graham's Fillmore East, whilst sharing the bill with Ten Years After and The Nice – during his stage routine, Chapman lost control of his microphone stand, which flew in Graham's direction, an act Graham took to be deliberate; Chapman performed the following shows with his hands by his sides, and by the end of the tour he had lost his voice; Family's reputation in the US never recovered and they ultimately never achieved great recognition there.

Returning to the UK, the band performed at The Rolling Stones' Hyde Park gig and the Isle of Wight Festival that summer. In late 1969, Jim King was asked to leave Family due to "erratic behaviour" and was replaced by multi-instrumentalist John "Poli" Palmer.

Roger Chapman – lead vocals, harmonica, tenor saxophone
 John "Charlie" Whitney – lead guitar, steel guitar
 Jim King – tenor and soprano saxophone, harmonica, vocals
 Ric Grech – bass guitar, violin, cello, vocals
 Rob Townsend – drums, percussion

 Dave Mason – producer, mellotron
 Jimmy Miller – co-producer on "The Breeze" and "Peace of Mind"
 John Gilbert – executive producer
 Eddie Kramer – engineer
 George Chiantz – second engineer
 Peter Duval – album design
 Julian Cottrell – front cover photography
 Jac Remise – back cover photography

01. "The Chase"  02:16
02. "Mellowing Grey"  02:48
03. "Never Like This" (Dave Mason)  02:20
04. "Me My Friend"   02:01
05. "Variation on a theme of Hey Mr. Policeman" (instrumental) 00:25
06. "Winter"  02:26
07. "Old Songs New Songs"  04:18
08. "Variation on a theme of The Breeze" (instrumental) 00:39
09. "Hey Mr. Policeman" (Whitney, Ric Grech, Chapman) 03:14
10. "See Through Windows"  03:44
11. "Variation on a theme of Me My Friend" (instrumental)  (Whitney)  00:22
12. "Peace of Mind"  02:26
13. "Voyage"  03:31
14. "The Breeze"  02:52
15. "3 x Time"  03:35

Bonus Tracks:
16. "Scene Through the Eye of a Lens [Bonus Track]  02.52
17. "Gypsy Woman [Bonus Track]  03.25

This is the first volume containing Family's previously unreleased BBC Radio 1 sessions. Featured here are several versions of tracks never before available on CD. This includes the only official release of their interpretation of the old blues number, 'I Sing Um The Way I Feel'.

Covering the period from late 1968 up to mid-1969 these recorded sessions are mastered from the original BBC transcription tapes and feature one of Britain's finest bands playing in the studio, but with an extra edge that is normally only captured at live performances.These 16 tracks are almost wholly composed of BBC versions of songs from Family's first three albums, though one ("Holding the Compass") didn't turn up until their fourth LP; another ("No Mule's Fool") was a 1969 single; and another, "I Sing 'Um the Way I Feel," was a J.B. Lenoir blues tune the band never put on their official records. Some of this material has come out on bootlegs, but the sound on this is notably superior -- it's quite good for a BBC archive release from any era, in fact. 

And while the arrangements don't differ too drastically from the studio versions, these performances are excellent. There's a bit of a loose live feel, but they demonstrate that the band -- unlike some others of the early progressive rock era -- were capable of re-creating their intricate, disciplined rock-blues-jazz-folk-miscellany interplay in a live setting, without sacrificing any of their gritty energy. Some of these renditions predate the release of the studio versions, sometimes by quite a bit; in the case of "Holding the Compass," in fact, the lyrics would change by the time it made it onto the Anyway album. Some might lament the absence of some particular favorites from their early days; there's no "Hey Mr. Policeman," for example. But really there's nothing to complain about considering the strong selection of songs here, which include such highlights of their early repertoire as "See Through Windows," "Drowned in Wine," the distressingly haunting folk-rockish "The Weaver's Answer," and the wistful "Observations From a Hill." 

BBC Radio 1968-69 Extra Bonus Tracks:
(Previously unreleased BBC Radio 1 Sessions never before available.)

Recorded 3.9.68 Saturday Club Session:
01. "See Through Windows"  04.05 [1968] 
02. "Weaver's Answer"  04.52 [1968]   
03. "Breeze"  02.38 [1968]

Recorded 11.11.68 Top Gear:  
04. "Second Generation Woman"  02.36 [1968]    
05. "Observations from a Hill"  02.57 [1968]   
06. "Dim"  02.23 [1968]

Recorded 3.3.69 Symonds On Sunday:   
07. "Holding the Compass"  02.31 [1969]    
08. "Procession"  02.45 [1969]   
09. "How Hi the Li"  03.06 [1969]

Recorded 11.3.69 Top Gear:   
10. "Love Is a Sleeper"  03.50 [1969]  
11. "I Sing 'Um the Way I Feel"  04.34 [1969]   
12. "Song for Me"  07.48 [1969] 

Recorded 28.7.69 Top Gear:  
13. "Drowned in Wine"  04.15 [1969]   
14. "Wheels"  06.54 [1969]   
15. "No Mule's Fool  03.05    
16. "Cat and the Rat  02.52

Part 1: Link
Part 2: Link
Part 1: Link
Part 2: Link