Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Family

  • Anyway [United Artists, 1971] C+
  • Fearless [United Artists, 1971] B
  • Bandstand [United Artists, 1972] B+
  • It's Only a Movie [United Artists, 1973] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Anyway [United Artists, 1971]
Back before Rik Grech deserted them for (and on) Blind Faith they were a slightly demented hard rock band that made arty with a violin. Now they're a slightly demented hard rock band that makes arty with unidentifiable percussion and various croons and mumbles--at least on the studio side. On the live side they make shift. C+

Fearless [United Artists, 1971]
This hooks in on "Sat'd'y Barfly," which sets Roger Chapman to bellowing drunken boasts over dissonant piano chords. The rest is equally abrasive and eccentric, but not always so good-humored, which when it doesn't hook in can be a problem. B

Bandstand [United Artists, 1972]
When they kick ass on "Burlesque" or "Glove" or "Broken Nose" they sound raw and abrasive in the great English hard rock tradition, but the discords are altogether more cunning, and on this album their stubborn lyricism finally finds suitable melodies on "Coronation" and "My Friend the Sun" and the bittersweet "Dark Eyes." Their sexual anger is class-conscious, always a plus, and their sadness usually a matter of time, which they get away with when the melody is very suitable. And just as they begin to get it together they break up. B+

It's Only a Movie [United Artists, 1973]
So they didn't break up after all, but the close call seems to have mellowed them--this is their funniest, funkiest, most relaxed album. I know an autumnal Roger Chapman is a little hard to imagine, but this is a man of many guises--back in the beginning he sometimes came on like an opera singer. Pick: "Leroy," inspired by "No Money Down." B+