Article – Family Progressing On Two Fronts

from Melody Maker, August 1970

Two factors were particularly evident from Family’s appearance at Croydon’s Fairfield Hall on Sunday. One is that the group is now operating in two definite areas of development , and the other is that bassist violinist John Weider is now working more to the fore in their lineup. This was only their second British outing in several months (their first was at Nottingham the day before) and it seems that their recent tour of the States has polarised their musical approach. Their first set, for instance, which was recorded for their fourth album “Anyway” to be released on November 14th, showed a marked swing away from their use of heavy rock rhythms. On new numbers like “Processions” (which included a verse from No Mules Fool), the title track “Anyway “, “Holding the Compass” and “Here Comes the Grin”, it was apparent that in one direction they are adopting the more subtle , jazz-inspired approach that they initiated in their last album. The bass and lead guitar were used very, very sparingly, and most of the leadwork was done by Weider on amplified acoustic with John Witney staying in the background and acting basically as an anchor man. Simultaneously, the songs themselves contained more melodic flowing lines. The result was intricate and refreshing. The second set illustrated well the band’s dynamics and heavy approach, with Chapman bleating marvelously on tried and trusted numbers like “Wheels”, “Drowned in Wine”, “A Song for Me” and “Weavers Answer”, which Lhey did as an encore. With their great use of stop go rhythms, it represented an impressive exercise in musical and visual flair. In both these sets Weider laid down some interesting stuff, notably on violin and amplified acoustic, on the latter instrument he did some very jazzy work on the instrumental “Here Comes the Grin” and “Wheels” and his violin playing always fitted in with what the others were doing, which has not invariably been the case in the past. Whitney was generally content to give him his head. Chapman, of course, the band’s focus, was his incomparable self, despite a certain amount of nervousness in the first half. At one point he threw his mike stand high into the air and it landed in the front row. Visually and vocally, he really must be one of the few impressive lead singers in British rock.

-Michael Watts

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