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Family: Music in a Doll’s House (1968)

Music in a Doll’s House is the debut album from this eclectic British rock band, Family, and is by far their most psychedelic. It’s also one of my all-time favorite psychedelic albums ever. This band never made it in America (they were quite a bit more popular in their native England) which is a real shame, to say the least. Apparently the reason for that was the band had some really bad blood with Fillmore East/West promoter Bill Graham when they performed in the US at the Fillmore East (Roger Chapman actually had a fistfight with Graham). The band had quite an influence on Genesis in their early days, as the band’s lead vocalist, Roger Chapman sounds a lot like Peter Gabriel, except with much more vibrato. Chapman is one of the great rock vocalists, in my book, and just by listening to Music in a Doll’s House, you can see why. And for all those wondering where Richard Grech of Blind Faith came from, he came from this band, and appears on this album, as well as Family’s following album, Family Entertainment (1969) before going on to Blind Faith. Perhaps the second best known member of Family was bassist John Wetton, who was previously a member of Mogul Thrash (a Colosseum-related band, because of the presence of James Litherland), and later finding his fame and fortune with King Crimson (during the Larks/Starless/Red-era), Uriah Heep, U.K., and Asia. Wetton isn’t on Music in a Doll’s House, he was on a later Family album, that is Fearless (1971). Music in a Doll’s House is a real classic. “Mellowing Grey” is one of the more mellow numbers, sounding something like The Moody Blues (particularly the use of Mellotron) or the earliest works of Genesis (only a lot better than From Genesis to Revelation in my book). “Me My Friend” is way cool, sure the band used some rather dated use of phasing here, which was common to 1967-68 psychedelia, but despite that, it’s a great song. I also really like “Mr. Police Man”, which is an almost bluesy number. Other favorites of mine include “Peace of Mind”, “Winter”, and “The Breeze”. “Never Like This” was written by Dave Mason, and it could have easily fit on an early Traffic album (but that should come as no surprise). Either he written this song for Family, or it was a song Traffic rejected and he gave to Family. “Voyage” is one of the less structured songs on the album, and tends to put more emphasis on strange electronic effects, so some might regard that as one of the weak points of the album, but it doesn’t bother me any. Music in a Doll’s House is incredible. Frequently late ’60s psychedelic albums get criticized for not standing the test of time very well, but every time I listen to this album, I am amazed how well this stands up to repeated listens. It’s a real solid album and real easy to get in to. Certainly you can tell this is a late ’60s recording, thanks to the use of phasing, electronic effects, strings, horns, even Mellotron, but it’s a very well done album, and it’s little wonder why I regard this as one of my favorite in the psychedelic genre. Essential album and one of the finer examples of late ’60s psychedelia.
– Roger Chapman: lead vocals, harmonica, tenor saxophone
– John Whitney: lead guitar, steel guitar
– Jim King: tenor and soprano saxophone, harmonica, vocals
– Ric Grech: bass guitar, violin, cello, vocals
– Rob Townsend: drums, percussion

10 Responses to Family: Music in a Doll’s House (1968)

  • I’d have to agree with the reviewer that ‘Music In A Doll’s House’ still stands up well today; I’d like to add that I think it’s one of the very few truly original and exciting albums I’ve heard. It annoys me when people refer to styles as being something like a cross between jazz and blues, or rock and folk….I mean, just how off-putting is that?!? MIADH stands alone among turgid late-sixties guff and sounds fresh as a daisy. And this is coming from a Fall, Stooges, Can and Beefheart fan! Pay heed, dusty ol’ hipsters! This ain’t prog-rock and sounds nothing like King Crimson (or, for that matter, Genesis).

  • The review hits the nail on its head for me, this sadly is also familys best LP and the only one I ever listen to these days it still has the power to raise a goosebump now and then. If you looking for a late 60’s LP which sums up the best of the period this has to be a strong contender and it dosn’t sound anything like genesis.

  • I love Family………….sadly I just missed them live….I startedwith Floyd 74 @ Newcastle (DSOTM) and then through Genesis, Floyd and everyone else..but I would have loved to have seen Family.

  • i saw family play at THE CITY HALL in Sheffield, England, UK, when i was about 19 or so???? i think i went with my friend IVAN MIDGLY and his girlfriend i think??? i think that was the concert where the lead singer RODGER CHAMPAN fell over on the stage???? I DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY ALL ARE NOW??? DAVID C, MIEDZIANIK DENVER, COLORADO, USA: e-mail: rainmanhallelujah@hotmail.com
    ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
    PS: bob dylan, is on at THE FILLIMORE, just about a few hundred yards, from the motel, where i’m stopping here in DENVER: THE ROYAL HOST MOTEL: i get a bit stressed out. as i’m stuck in a motel room, by myself most nights: it’s always been my ambition for bob dylan to DO A SONG ABOUT ME: just like he’s done songs for that boxer HURRICANE on his DESIRE album. and his wife SARA on his DESIRE album too: and he did a good song about LENNY BRUCE on his SHOT OF LOVE album too:
    PPS: it’s sometimes hard here in DENVER as a came here by myself: i tell them sometimes, that i’m the BBC’S top bob dylan request writer but, i don’t think they always understand that here???? maybe they do understand this??? i don’t know????
    PPPS: i haven’t taken my halodol for the last 2 years: and i’d like to stop REAL SLIM: as i now have diabetes: SO PLEASE TRY AND GET ME THIS SONG DONE???? SO I CAN STOP Real Slim: as people back in OLD ENGLAND torment me sometimes to go BACK ON THESE: and i wouldn’t mind stopping here in COLORADO sometimes:
    PPPPS: ALTHOUGH IT’S HARD WITH NO JOB, and NO SONG ABOUT ME isn’t it???? even bob dylan, knows THAT, doesn’t HE???

  • I saw Family @ Portsmouth Guildhall there were brilliant, sadly I don’t have a copy of this great album…is there CD…where can I buy it in South Africa….HELLO ANYBODY OUT THERE….!!!!

  • I saw Family many times, mostly in Portsmouth but also in London. I saw another had commented about Roger Chapman falling off the stage….he certainly made a habit of this, he fel off the stage at the Round House, right on top of me and a friend who were sitting in the fron row. Fantastic Band – never got the tru recognition they deservered. I have introduced the next two generations to Family and they are mostly received very well.

  • Ok, its always a matter of taste. But trying to be objective this is one of the five sixties scores that will be really classic.

  • Saw Roger Chapman at an open air gig in Germany some years back. Never heard of the bloke before and neither had the rest of the crowd by the sounds of things. He was wearing an old white bath robe on stage with mic in one hand and a beer in the other. By the start of the second track the crowds ears had all pricked up as Rodge had whipped himself and the rest of us up into a frency. Great show and by far the best of the eight or so acts on the day! I bought a solo L.P. the next day and have got all the Family stuff I could get my hands on since. Great stuff!!!!

  • THE WEAVERS ANSWER: david christopher miedzianik
    TRAVISTOCK SQUARE: LONDON: rainmanhallelujah@hotmail.com
    07847607522

    say…med-gen-nick:

    THE WEAVERS ANSWER say no more ???

    i’m bob dylan’s greatest bbc radio request writer: “bob dylan and the dead” or something ??? i don’t know ????

    i saw FAMILY at THE CITY HALL, SHEFFIELD, about 30 years ago or so:
    i went with IVAN, and his girlfriend NOCOLA: i don’t know where they are now ???

  • Hung Up Down on the second album is one of the hardest psychedelic rock songs I have ever heard (The Singer is MAD). And See Through Windows on the first album caught my ear immediatly, certainly 30 years ahead of it’s time.

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