The songwriting partnership of Charlie Whitney and Roger Chapman, guitarist and lead vocalist respectively of Family, who formed in 1962 and disbanded 11 years later, came out with a track that still sounds extraordinary nearly 40 years on, but is actually one of the group’s more straight ahead numbers: The Weaver’s Answer (FF 1976 #42), of which more can be read here.
John Peel played them repeatedly around the release of their debut Music In A Doll’s House, but the opening track on Family Entertainment, their 1969 top 10 album, became their signature song: however, they did not have a top 10 single in the UK until In My Time, and the band’s music steadfastly refused to crack the US market, despite touring there sporadically.
Their musical direction, though basically rooted in R&B and blues, employed other styles (including psychedelia in their early days and folk, as can be heard in Weaver’s Answer) to the point where it became difficult to pin Family down to any one style (very much like David Bowie, who continually took on new music and assimilated it into his, but with conspicuously higher success than Family). It rather depended on whether or not you liked Roger Chapman’s voice, variously described as ‘an electric goat’ and similar to Larry The Lamb.
After Ric Grech left to join Blind Faith (apparently without telling Family beforehand) and Jim King was sacked for ‘erratic behaviour’, John ‘Poli’ Palmer, a multi-instrumentalist, was drafted in (although the band’s line-up constantly shifted). The band thereafter experienced their greatest commercial success in the UK until a slow dissolution in ’73, never to reform. Grech and Tony Ashton have since passed on, and the others are all in different projects.
Full-blooded and live, here they are:
£: Family, Family Entertainment