Posts Tagged ‘John “Charlie” Whitney’

Family A Song For Me album cover

“A Song for Me” is the third album by the British progressive rock band Family, released on 23rd January 1970 on Reprise Records.

The album was recorded in late 1969 at Olympic Studios in London. It was their first album with new members John Weider on bass and Poli Palmer on keyboards, flute and vibraphone. The past several months had been full of setbacks for Family. Rick Grech had left for Blind FaithJim King was forced to leave for getting too deep into drug addiction, and their first U.S. tour proved to be a disaster.

Although many of the songs had been written with King’s saxophone in mind, Charlie Whitney and Roger Chapman were able to rework them with Palmer’s instruments, and Palmer quickly made himself integral to Family’s sound. Because some of these songs had been debuted in live performances in the previous year, many Family fans found themselves getting accommodated to arrangements that sounded radically different from what they expected.

This might well be among the best of the early Family recordings. A combination of hard rock and wistful folk-rock (it sounds as if Chapman and Whitney were listening to a lot of Incredible String Band), “A Song for Me” veers toward early progressive rock, but isn’t as nakedly indulgent as some early prog-rock recordings, perhaps they wanted to sound like a rock band screwing around with jazz. Perhaps their most experimental record, it seems as though the credo in making this disc was that anything went. And on tracks like “Drowned in Wine,” it works quite well. Again, Chapman offers more proof of his vocal greatness, and again the record sells large quantities in England and nearly nothing in America.

Family

  • Roger Chapman – vocals, percussion
  • John “Charlie” Whitney – guitars, banjo, organ
  • John Weider – guitars, bass, violin, dobro
  • John “Poli” Palmer – vibes, piano, flute
  • Robert Townsend – drums, percussion, harp

The album “Family Entertainment” followed on the heels of Family’s Music in a Doll’s House with the band’s first incarnation: Roger Chapman (harmonica/tenor sax/vocals), Rick Grech (violin/cello/bass guitar/vocals), Rob Townsend (percussion/drums), John “Charlie” Whitney (guitar/pedal steel guitar/keyboards), and Jim King (harmonica/keyboards/soprano sax/tenor sax/vocals).

Family Entertainment was the second album by the British progressive rock band Family, released in March 1969. The cover of the album was a takeoff from the sleeve of the Doors’ second album, Strange Days, Family admitted.

While not totally dismissing their psychedelic leanings, much of the material bears a stronger acoustic influence, in much the same manner as Fairport Convention and Traffic were also exploring. The jazzy sitar lead of “Face in the Cloud” and the even more prominent Eastern-flavored “Summer ’67” somewhat date the affair, and are contrasted by the beautifully noir and trippy “How-Hi-the-Li” and the upbeat “Hung Up Down,” sporting Grech’s unmistakable violin as it wafts over the rural and slightly surreal lyrics.

These sides are set against the edgy “Weaver’s Answer,” which immediately establishes a broader spectrum of styles, most notably given Chapman’s commanding if not slightly intimidating vocals. Guitarist Whitney blistering fretwork yields bite to the Grech-penned “Second Generation Woman,” while “Emotions,” another full-tilt rocker, is infused with an apparent R&B homage.

The first song from the album ”Family Entertainment” that came out in 1969.

This extended version is live from the Beat Club (Hamburg) in 1970. Roger Chapman – Vocals / Percussion John ”Charlie” Whitney – Guitars / Organ Jim King – Piano /Saxophone / Vocals Ric Grech – Bass / Violin / Vocals Rob Townsend – Drums / Percussion Nicky Hopkins – Piano

Family Entertainment was the last album from the group’s original lineup.

Family’s momentum was almost derailed by the departure of bassist Ric Grech for Blind Faith two months after Family Entertainment’s UK release, which caused their first U.S. tour to founder, and Jim King only worsened the situation with his departure later in 1969.

Interested parties should note that Family Entertainment and Music in a Doll’s House were issued in a double-disc package featuring a commendable 24-bit digital remastering rendering all other versions useless — especially the early-’90s pressing on the German Line label. Not only are both LPs included, but the 45s “Scene Through the Eye of a Lens” and “Gypsy Woman” are finally brought into the digital domain. The accompanying 40-page liner booklet is likewise a feast for the eyes.