Chrysalis in cooperation with Bradgate Bush presents…
FAMILY and their guests Emily Muff
There is a lot of people who can’t cope with Family. They are mostly people who like things cooled out, who want to be assured that everything is alright really. But there are lots more people who understand what Family are into. They may not be trendy or Tony Palmer. They may not be the million-dollar pop impresarios. But they are the people who know.
There is usually not much point in writing about bands, but there is even less point in spinning words about Family. Most of the people who have ears in this country know what their music is like without being told in pompous terms thought up by an ad agency. They are no fly-by-night group got together by some money hungry Denmark Street tycoon, made up of pretty boys and session men who have had time to grow their hair. John Whitney was playing as long ago as 1961 to audiences in Leicester who still turn up to hear where his head is at now. In those days he was in a band with Jim King, and a couple of years later Rick Grech joined to play base with them. All this time the Family sound was developing the hard way, the only way. In 1965 another essential was added when Roger Chapman joined, and the mixture stabilised in 1967 when Rob Townsend replaced the drummer, and the group called itself Family.
Like all the best British groups they took no short cuts. Their music developed out of what they knew and felt as ordinary Leicester lads, not out of some Oriental fad or Middle-western hill-billy blues. What their huge audiences like them for is their genuineness and what is most remarkable is that after more than three years of consistent success they have still got it. Keeping it has not been easy, but this is one band which has never taken the line of least resistance. It must be the trip or nothing. If Family ever produce a hit single it won’t be because they cold-bloodedly planned it that way. If they were ever to put out a commercial LP there would be fighting in the streets. The first royalty that these men have is to each other, to Family. There is no space in their formidably integrated sound for any kind of ego trip, although each member of the band is quite capable of dazzlingly virtuoso performances. The sound that results from the way that they understand and cooperate with each other is quite unique. Although it is always recognisable, it is capable of astonishing variety. Each member of the band has ideas, but all the ideas are incorporated in the group reaction, giving rise to more and more. They could never work out a snappy show-biz routine and play it like clock-work for deafening applause, like some bands we could name. Each performance credits the audience with the intelligence to follow what is happening, and the audience takes the compliment.
There have been changes in the band. These days John Weider plays base and violin. After he left the Animals, he could have written his own ticket, but he preferred to do session work in L.A. until a band showed up that he really wanted to join. That band was Family. The latest arrival is John Palmer who had been part of the sound of Ecclection. His flute, vibes, organ and drumming have been welcomed and incorporated into the whole sound. These days Family is more together than ever.
Besides their musical competence, what Family really generates is energy, pure and simple. Energy includes noise and violence, music loud and sweet that demands serious attention. To people bred up on commercial mush, violence and tenderness seem somehow irreconcilable, but Family demonstrates what the people know, that the frustrations of the straight life cause aggression by stifling desire. Roger Chapman is the clearest expression of this principle. His voice is phenomenal; extraordinary in range, accurate in pitch, it embodies everything that is special about Family. Rob Townsend’s drumming is like that too. Although he is one of the loudest and strongest rock and roll drummers, he is also sensitive and tasteful, even melodic. Power in music cannot exist if the music does not exist first, and Family must be the only “underground” band in England that can dig that. Because they lay the musical base down so clearly they can pull off dynamic effects without braying about revolution or saying dirty words into the mike. John Whitney can play up a storm; with his small smile and phenomenal concentration he can play most of the big-name flash guitarists off the stage and into the men’s room.
There are lots of bands who leap around and throw their hair all over the place, struggling to put out some sort of an image of heaviness. Family is not one of them. What makes Family a frightening band is that instead of hysteria they convey strength. Their refusal to compromise over anything from their stage clothes to their sound levels to their desire to play each gig as they feel it means that their will has become concentrated. The image of controlled violence which they put out can be scary especially to commissionaires and other folk who are afraid of young people but it is energy they are producing. You can not talk about art in our world because the word has come to mean so many things that are ridiculous, so what you have to say is that Family are into what they are doing. That is the most important thing there is. If a microphone ends up in the audience or a tambourine is split to matchwood it is just part of the generation of the power of the music. That is why Family is the best loved group in England in the places where it counts, among people who matter. Family is real.
When FAMILY first moved to London, they all lived together in a terraced house in Chelsea. Times were hard as they worked to establish themselves, and it was a comfort to have home-baked cakes and sympathetic tea made for them by their two young American neighbors… EMILY MUFF.
While Family were progressing and going their way the two young girls were working hard at various jobs, saving all their money to buy guitars and other instruments, until they had enough to go and live in a cottage in Wales to rehearse their music.
During last October they returned, went to see Tony Gourvish, Family’s manager, and impressed him and the group with their songs and vast potential.
Emily Muff are now signed with the Family company for management, recording and publishing. They are, at the moment, working on material for a future single. A recording deal is currently being negotiated with Warner/Reprise.
Appearing on the same bill with Family, they have already established themselves at places such as Marquee, Mothers, Van Dyke Plymouth, Klooks Kleek, Colston Hall Bristol, De Montfort Leicester, Fairfields Hall Croydon, and various universities. With each performance they do, they gather recognition and appreciation as sincere and dedicated musicians, a situation which can only increase in momentum as they play.
Although it is difficult to place Emily Muff into any one “bag”, between them they produce a highly individual sound, write their own material, sing in harmony, play electric guitars, piano, organ, flute, harmonica and other various wind instruments.
We see them as something… However, before categorisation, we would ask you to listen.
hope to see you next time around… Anyway…