FAMILY Fearless (1971)

Fearless (1971)
An Odd UK Anomaly

I can’t tell you how many drugs I took while listening to this album back in the day. Like many stateside newbies, I first learned of Family when supergroup Blind Faith pinched their bass player, Ric Grech. Being curious what they were all about, Fearless was my first taste and, probably because of that, I still consider this my favorite Family member, though… it’s surely not the “best” representation of this ever-evolving outfit. By the time this album came out in 1971, Grech was long gone and future King Crimson/Asia bassist/frontman, the great John Wetton, was in the house – and his vocal work added a new dimension to Family’s mercurial sound. But, to this day, I still have a hard time reconciling this LP with Family’s previous and subsequent releases. It’s a strange mix of harmonic melody, hippie prog, art rock and pub psych blues, though none of those tags fully fit or explain Fearless. “Save Some For Thee” (below) even includes a faux marching band, for chrissakes. Group leaders Roger Chapman (vocals) and Charlie Whitney (guitars) would further embellish their bluesy and boozy side in later years – culminating with the screeching heaviness of their next configuration, Streetwalkers (1974-1977). But Fearless is a happy anomaly that stands apart from their catalog, which I, like many other Yanks, came to embrace when the import LP market opened up around this time. Especially this LP’s follow-up, Bandstand. The bonus tracks, “In My Own Time” b/w “Seasons,” were both recorded during the Fearless sessions, originally issued as a single prior to the album’s release. Oldsters remember the cover art, as well, since it featured four additional die-cut cardboard pages, no doubt making it even harder for the band to recoup their advances. Hear a couple of examples below, including the mesmerizing but atypical, “Larf And Sing.” This is the 2000 bonus track version, but a 2011 reissue is at Amazon, HERE, with two additional live bonus tracks. Wait another 10 years and you might get two more. We’ve got some Streetwalkers and solo Roger Chapman in the archives, HERE.

Between Blue And Me (5:03)
Sat’d'y Barfly (3:59)
Larf And Sing (2:45)
Spanish Tide (4:02)
Save Some For Thee (3:43)
Take Your Partners (6:27)
Children (2:19)
Crinkley Grin (1:06)
Blind (4:04)
Burning Bridges (4:46)
In My Own Time (3:33) – Bonus Track
Seasons (2:21) – Bonus Track

31 Comments

  • 1
    Willard
    December 20, 2012 - 12:14 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • 2
    buzzbabyjesus
    December 20, 2012 - 12:38 | Permalink

    This is one of my all-time favorite albums. “Bandstand” is another. Because I was crazy about King Crimson, I bought these because of John Wetton. I eventually found all their records, “Anyway” being my next favorite. This is one of the better points of entry, as if all you knew were the Grech albums, you probably wouldn’t think you needed these, which are much more fun. I don’t really need “Entertainment”.

    • 3
      Willard
      December 20, 2012 - 12:59 | Permalink

      I hear you. I discovered Wetton’s excellence after this album, but once I grew accustomed to his style it retroactively made this album even cooler for me. Like the way his voice punches out of the mix at the end of the bridge in “Save Some For Thee” (“But a great deal for me, but a great deal for me”). His little touches only added to the weird uniqueness of this album.

  • 4
    buzzbabyjesus
    December 20, 2012 - 12:47 | Permalink

    And Sat’d’y Barfly is great art.

    • 5
      Willard
      December 20, 2012 - 12:55 | Permalink

      Right on. The entire album is a little goldmine of strange and unique offerings. Of course, it’s all so odd, it surely requires total immersion to properly appreciate. These days, time is a precious commodity however (not to mention the drugs), so it’s hard to imagine newcomers having the patience to allow an album like this to appropriately sink in… but it’s a pleasing and worthy snapshot of the creative early 70s that I, for one, miss greatly.

  • 6
    KDNYfm
    December 20, 2012 - 14:47 | Permalink

    My brother bought Bandstand after hearing Burlesque on the radio. We were both knocked out by the song and the album. So I went out and bought Fearless.
    Personally I think Burlesque is right up there with Tumblin Dice as one of the greatest rock songs ever. (Notice I did say personally, so as not to create any mad discussions about what is or isnt).
    But Fearless to me is overall a better album with great input from everyone in the band, and a better variation thru out!
    Wetton’s bass playing on Fearless is superb thru out. and I became a huge fan of his, I was pleased to see him join King Crimson and Roxy Music and the song Same Time Next Week he sings on Phil Manzanera’s Diamond Head is also great!
    Anyway, a couple years ago, my brother was writing some reviews for some web based music mag, and he got the 4 TwoFers released by Mystic of the Family catalogue. He knew I was a big fan, so now I own them.
    Willard, I will forward a copy of Bandstand and the other bonus tracks from Fearless!
    Al

    • 7
      Willard
      December 20, 2012 - 15:37 | Permalink

      Thanks KDNY. I’ve got Bandstand, but I’ll take the bonus tracks. Many thanks.

    • 8
      Willard
      December 20, 2012 - 15:59 | Permalink

      Hey KDNYfm… MANY thanks. Turns out I don’t have Bandstand on CD (only vinyl) so this is much appreciated. I’ll try and get the two Fearless bonus tracks up tomorrow to add to this post. Big thanks again.

  • 9
    Joey Savitz
    December 20, 2012 - 15:31 | Permalink

    I’ve love this band! One of their better albums, too. They’ve got a 15 CD box set coming out early nest year.

  • 11
    Jim
    December 20, 2012 - 16:04 | Permalink

    Can’t wait for that box set! My introduction to Family was ‘In my own time’, a UK chart hit in ’71, and probably about the 8th, 10th, 12th single I ever owned (and still possess). It reached No.4 in the charts, and was an anomaly amongst the other stuff, Slade, Dave Edmunds, Stones, Hollies chart hits I was buying at the time (still own all of those, too). I probably wasn’t earning enough pocket money until 73, 74 before I could afford albums. So the singles I did buy were prized possessions, played over and over again, day after day, week after week. In thrall to the solo Beatles careers at the time, I collected all of those, and their release schedules pretty much took care of the full pocket money allowance, so anything else that broke into that circle was, in my mind, special stuff. ‘In my own time’ remains a terrific single and deserved hit.

  • 12
    Willard
    December 20, 2012 - 16:12 | Permalink

    Being a yank, I had to look up “In My Own Time,” since it was one of the bonus tracks here, and saw that it was a UK hit for them. KNew nothing about its history myself. Kinda dumb they didn’t cram it on the album to help sales, but at least it’s available again here.

  • 13
    time
    December 20, 2012 - 19:59 | Permalink

    I’m grateful for this because the bonus tracks are different to the ones on the release I have (Weaver’s Answer, Strange Band). I remember In My Own Time well – it”l be great to hear it again.

    Do you need the first (pre Doll’s House) single? Scene Through The Eye Of A Lens is great, the b-side Gypsy Woman less so, but they’re both hard to fine (on a Castle comp somewhere?)

    • 14
      Willard
      December 20, 2012 - 20:07 | Permalink

      Actually… I’d be more interested in “Weaver’s Answer” and “Strange Band” (live versions, right?). KDNYfm sent through the two live bonus tracks (“Between Blue And Me” and “Sing Em The Way I Feel”) so we can get them all up and fatten this post. At 320 if you can. Many thanks.

  • 15
    Wyatt
    December 20, 2012 - 20:27 | Permalink

    Always loved Family. Anyway was my favorite album with the live track of Good News/Bad News. One of my all time favorite songs was Second Generation Woman. I think it was from Family Entertainment. Was that the LP produced by Dave Mason?

    • 16
      Willard
      December 20, 2012 - 20:40 | Permalink

      Didn’t know (or completely forgot) Mason did anything with them, but now see it’s Music In A Doll’s House. Entertainment was produced by John Gilbert & Glyn Johns

  • 17
    KDNYfm
    December 20, 2012 - 22:14 | Permalink

    |’m doing some other uploads for my brothers right now (Christmas sharing)…when those are all done I can upload the bonus tracks from all the re-issues. And Family Live. May be a day or so!

  • 18
    Willard
    December 20, 2012 - 22:36 | Permalink

    The bonus tracks would be cool. We can gather together all we can from the various issues. The only other ones I have are from It’s Only A Movie, “Stop The Car” and “Drink To You.”

  • 19
    December 20, 2012 - 22:49 | Permalink

    Dude. Nice Choice!
    And according to Mojo, they have been touring again recently(In England and Europe of course). Oh to be rich enough to be the proverbial fly on the wall at one of those shows!

  • 22
    time
    December 21, 2012 - 00:14 | Permalink

    Weaver’s and Strange are bonus studio tracks, @192. If no-one has better, I’ll up them with pleasure. I’ll check back.

    • 23
      Willard
      December 21, 2012 - 23:49 | Permalink

      Let’s do it. There are a lot to collect and we’ll see what we end up with. Thanks.

  • 24
    Wyatt
    December 21, 2012 - 09:29 | Permalink

    OK, I just looked it up. He both played on and produced “Music In A Doll’s House”

  • 25
    courtney
    December 21, 2012 - 15:29 | Permalink

    Not to be overlooked is the canny choice of Between Blue and Me as the LP opener, an astonishing performance whose tonalities open up like a vintage Bordeaux. Actually, a different metaphor comes to mind, because now, as I recall the sinuous twin guitars rising and falling over the tempestuous drums, it’s not a wine but a cyclone that comes to mind, with Chapman tied to the mast as his ship takes on water below. Powerful stuff.

    • 26
      Willard
      December 21, 2012 - 16:22 | Permalink

      HA! I really like your “tied to the mast” dramatization. Perfect. If I’d seen that somewhere else before I wrote this up I would have simply stolen it (and denied it afterwards).

  • 27
    Duncan Walls
    December 21, 2012 - 17:23 | Permalink

    Music In A Doll’s House, their first, was the LP produced by Dave Mason, whom they ALSO backed up on his first post-Traffic 45 ‘Little Woman’. Somehow I got a Promo copy of the import of MIADH shortly after it came out and it became one of my all time favorite LPs as it is today…I even had an 8 track cartridge of it that I wore out.

    I’ve always ‘lumped’ Family in with Traffic (and somewhat like Jethro Tull at the time, who had me in their grip also), probably due to the Mason connection but more because they were contemporaries. They were a unique product of the times, wistful, powerful, courageous and clearly unlike anything American. Charlie Whitney’s voice has no comparison, save perhaps that fellow in Pavlov’s Dog, their nearest analogue I can find. Music In A Doll’s House was a masterful, classic LP IMHO, mostly for it’s creative use of themes from several of the songs being placed among the others on the opposite side and the sharp psychedelic production courtesy of Mr. Mason. I could listen to ‘The Breeze’ over and over again.Pre-CD, it was very cool to listen to it on 8-track since it became an endless loop and really worked it’s layout to the max. Frankly I was initially underwhelmed by ‘Family Entertainment’, their second LP, but it grew on me in time They were around in my nascent heyday of working in Record Stores so I grabbed each release as it came out. I believe Anyway’s leadoff cut was featured in some movie I recall seeing quite by accident that also had them performing as part of the film. (Sorry, don’t have the title in hand and I may be mistaken on its place in the sequence). I followed the core to Streetwalkers with interest. About the only thing I’ve never heard or found is Charlie Whitney’s solo LP, which I would guess came somewhere after Streetwalker faded. Anyone got info on that? or a post to a link?
    I only had the chance to see them once in the 1970s when they toured with Elton John here in the states. I was ecstatic and high with anticipation (and other things) going to the concert. Nobody I was with could understand how devastated I was when it was annouced from stage that they were not playing and that this guy David Bromberg would be opening SOLO. Well, I knew who he was, too but the audience did not and boy did he get heckled. BAD booking. I never did find out what happened to Family…were they just too weird for American audiences? Elton John’s audiences? Anybody got anything on that?

    • 28
      Willard
      December 21, 2012 - 23:47 | Permalink

      I never even heard of a Charlie Whitney solo album.

  • 29
    December 21, 2012 - 23:15 | Permalink

    “Sat’dy Barfly” best drinking song ever!

  • 30
    Rochacrimson
    December 22, 2012 - 10:33 | Permalink

    This band is simply fantastic!
    Anyone have the boxset “Old Songs New Songs from 2005?
    Many time in searching of that!
    Thank you!

  • 31
    Duncan Walls
    December 22, 2012 - 19:21 | Permalink

    I know it exists, Capt. Just never been able to find it.

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