The non-LP single "Scene Through the Eye of a Lens" b/w "Gypsy Woman" not withstanding, Music in a Doll's House (1968) is the debut full-length release from the earliest incarnation of Family, featuring 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). Their highly original sound has often been compared to Traffic, which may be in part due to the production skills of Jimmy Miller and Dave Mason, the latter also contributing the organic and rootsy rocker "Never Like This." Additionally, neither band was overtly psychedelic or progressive, contrasting them from the other burgeoning combos such as Soft Machine, Pink Floyd, and Caravan. Family's deceptively involved arrangements are coupled with an equally unique blend of Chapman's commanding vocals driving through the jazz and folk-rooted tunes. "The Chase" is a spirited opener that immediately establishes their unmistakable vibe, which is furthered on the sides "Old Songs for New Songs" and the aggressive rocker "Peace of Mind." The antithesis can be heard on the rural-flavored "Mellowing Grey" and "Winter," or perhaps the almost blatantly trippy "See Through Windows." In 1996, See for Miles issued Music in a Doll's House along with Family Entertainment (1969) on a double-disc anthology, including the previously mentioned pre-LP 7" "Scene Through the Eye of a Lens" b/w "Gypsy Woman," both of which have been released on compact disc for the first time here.
ROGER CHAPMAN vcls
RIC GRECH bs, vcls, violin
JIM KING sax, flute
ROB TOWNSEND drms
1 The Chase 2:16
2 Mellowing Grey 2:49
3 Never Like This 2:20
4 Me My Friend 2:00
5 Variation on a Theme of Hey Mr. Policeman 0:25
6 Winter 2:26
7 Old Songs New Songs 4:18
8 Variation on a Theme of The Breeze 0:39
9 Hey Mr. Policeman 3:14
10 See Through Windows 3:44
11 Variation on a Theme of My Friend 0:22
12 Peace of Mind 2:26
13 Voyage 3:31
14 The Breeze 2:52
15 3 x Time 3:51
Influenced by rhythm'n'blues, psychedelic pop and progressive rock pioneers like The Moody Blues, this band recorded one of the most outstanding debut albums ever.
Full of stunning tunes, great arrangement ideas, steadily balanced between street roughness and deep, spohisticated melancholy, crowned by the extraordinary voice of Roger Chapman, this recording itself surely influenced important bands like King Crimson or Genesis (Gabriel era).
My favorite songs: "Mellowing Grey", "Be My Friend", "Winter", "Peace of Mind", "The Breeze" - but it also works as a fantastic concept album.
It's a shame, that Music in a Doll's House is almost forgotten these days!
Rip from CD 256@ (full artwork included)