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Family: The Best Band You’ve Never Heard In Your Life

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The band, Family, is certainly one of the Best Bands You’ve Never Heard In Your Life. They formed in England in 1967 and included the late Ric Grech, who would later join the supergroup Blind Faith, on bass. The other members of Family who defined the band's progressive-psychedelic sound were guitarist John “Charlie” Whitney and singer Roger Chapman, whose unique vocal style has been described as “bleating vibrato” and “an electric goat”. With a few personnel changes through the years (including the addition of King Crimson and future Asia bassist/singer John Wetton from '71-'73), Family went on recording great albums until 1973.

Although Family were known for their intensely wild live performances, I think they certainly left behind a pretty remarkable, and overlooked, string of albums over their roughly five-year stint. From their 1968 debut titled Music In a Doll's House, which featured lots of complex arrangements and plenty of psychedelia, it was obvious that the Beatles took notice as they were originally intending to name the eponymous White Album A Doll's House, deciding against it as Family's debut was released a few months before the Beatles' album.

Chapman and Whitney further solidified the talent of their songwriting partnership with 1969's Entertainment, an album with a stronger blues undercurrent than the debut. Bassist Ric Grech came into his own as a songwriter too, penning three songs on the album. Charting as high as number 4 in the UK charts, Family had begun its string of single-digit charting albums. Also not overlooked by the other most important band in rock history, the Stones invited Family to play at their legendary Hyde Park gig in '69 (two days after the death of Brian Jones) which was made into a film.

The next album, A Song For Me, came as Family already began to splinter, with Grech leaving to join Clapton and Winwood's new band, Blind Faith (duh, wouldn't you?). This and other personnel changes weren't enough to stagger Family's productivity though, as they released two albums in 1970, and one a year for the following three years … with nary a decline in quality. This was a band that was consistently amazing throughout their recording career, and maybe that's why America never knew where to dig in, because they couldn't find the peaks that we're so attuned to seeing with other bands. It is also said that there were issues with Family's first U.S. tour, culminating in an incident at Bill Graham's Fillmore East, as recounted by Strange Band, The Family History:

…and Chapman's stage antics cause a microphone stand to be sent in Bill Graham's direction off stage, who takes it as a threat. For the following shows, a well-behaved Chapman bores the crowd with his arms pinned to his sides. The tour ends when Chapman loses his voice AND his visa is revoked (why? I do not know…). Some feel that this was the reason that Family failed to achieve the U.S. success so deserved.

The song I’ve got for you right now is from Family’s first album from 1968 titled Music In A Doll’s House, which was produced by Dave Mason of Traffic fame. As a matter of fact, the song you're about to hear was also written by Mason. If you dig it, do yourself a favor and run out and get some Family albums. Take your pick, you can't go wrong. You'd be certain to satiate your need to rock, but you'd also certainly find yourself surprised by the band's sheer creativity and originality. So here’s one of the Best Bands You’ve Never Heard In Your Life — Family, with “Never Like This”….

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  • franklyn marie

    thanks mike! how come i never heard this before now? i don’t know about the video… but the song is fun.

  • Right on, Franklyn!

  • Tyson

    mmmmmmm…..Newms disseminated knowledge. Love it. Wait… does that sound?…nah. I’m leaving it.

    I dig these guys.. I can definitely hear the Traffic/Blind Faith lineage. Thanks for making Family a part of my family! Hope to hang soon…