This is not the first time I've come late to the party and it certainly won't be the last. Whatever the Family discography has been offering since 1968 has eluded me until now, and the high praise from respected musicians and friends had been falling on deaf ears.
I do recall, though vaguely, having a brush with the band's 1971 release "Fearless," when one of my friends purchased it sometime in the late 70s, I'm guessing because John Wetton was on bass and vocals and my friend was a King Crimson fan. The only other memory of that time was none of us liking it very much.
My interest now comes in the form, once again, of a recently acquired complete collection on vinyl, aided by those aforementioned endorsements from people I like to listen to when it comes to their opinions on music. I guess now was the time and I'm all ears.
The debut is full of psychedelic pop awash with phase, flange, trumpets and strings reminiscent of early Traffic or some psychedelic blues not unlike later Traffic. (I guess having Rick Grech in the band and Dave Mason producing the record explains some of that.) Then suddenly, the sounds will shift and you could be taken away in a wave of layered harmonies and theatrics not unlike 10cc's early work, or even early Genesis. This all before either 10cc or Genesis made their bones. Of course, there is some solid, riff heavy rock and roll, as well.
Check out "Never Like This" from the debut.
Something else I learned on this recent journey through Family's catalogue is that I will never again not mention John "Charlie" Whitney whenever a discussion of great guitar players happens to be taking place within earshot.
If any of this music hits you, start from the top and just keep going right through the Streetwalkers first few. I'm quite amazed by it all, actually.
(And when you are through here, go over to Burning Love? and put me in my place regarding the Grammy Awards.)