"Best of Family" (Reprise) - by Tony Stevens (source unknown)
On October 13, 1973, Family disbanded on completion of their most successful British tour. Personally speaking, I found the day after was bloody awful, when I fully appreciated they'd probably never play again, and the memory of a truly excellent farewell concert was beginning to fade. Family were original, and its extremely regrettable the mechanics of the business dictated their demise. During their seven year existence they had created an almost unequalled standard of music and musicianship (with at least six of their eight albums) through five significant personnel changes. Quite rightly they were acclaimed by critics, and a large proportion of the public, as one of Britain's greatest bands. Now, to celebrate the first anniversary of their death, we're offered "Best of Family". How, though, can one select an album's worth of tracks from such a prolific repertoire and please everybody? Quite simply, you can't. However, this album does undoubtedly represent some the band's best moments. It goes right back to "Music in a Doll's House" with "The Chase" (listen carefully and you'll hear at the end part of the opening bar to "Mellowing Grey") and "Old Songs New Songs", and then through the years with such musical landmarks as "No Mule's Fool", "The Weaver's Answer", "Part of the Load", "In My Own Time", "Burlesque", and the classic "My Friend the Sun", to their last recordings together, "It's Only a Movie" and "Sweet Desiree". Not everything they did was magnificent of course, and evidence of this can be heard on the two other tracks included in the set, "Sat'd'y Barfly" and "Children" from the "Fearless" album. Even though many of the cuts on this compendium are obvious choices (so why didn't they include "Top of the Hill" as well?) all but the two I've mentioned stand up to what is commonly known as the test of time. But even more importantly each number clearly represents the progression of the band from the psychedelically inclined production of "Doll's House", through the ragged edges of "Part of the Load" to the track which reflects their improvisationary senses, "Burlesque". There are some informative sleeve notes (by Al Clark), a Family tree on the inner sleeve, and lyrics to all of the cuts. A good buy for those of you who haven't previously been introduced to the band, and any Family devotees who're too lazy to seek out the individual tracks from the original albums.
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