GP Editors' CD & Book Reviews

January 30, 2014

Although relatively successful in the U.K. and Europe, England’s Family failed to make waves across the Pond, partly due to a less-than-savvy marketing strategy, but also due to difficulties touring (exacerbated when vocalist Roger Chapman nearly hit Bill Graham with a wildly hurled mic stand during the band’s debut gig at the Fillmore East in early 1969). Nonetheless, the band made some of the most original and diverse music of the late ’60s and early ’70s—nearly every note of which is contained within this 14-disc set, which also includes a lushly illustrated 72-page hardback book, a faux music newspaper with band clippings, a live performance from 1971, two discs of alternate takes and rarities, several singles, and a Certificate of Authenticity signed by Chapman.

Family’s first album, Music in a Doll’s House (1968), is a psychedelic masterpiece engineered by Eddie Kramer, featuring singular vocals by Chapman (an influence on early Peter Gabriel), inventive guitar work from John Whitney (who played a Gibson doubleneck years before Page), and creative bass and violin playing by Ric Grech (of Blind Faith fame), along with an array of additional instrumentation including sax, harmonica, and brass and string sections. The following seven albums—from Family Entertainment (1969) to It’s Only a Movie (1973)—witnessed the band indulging its expansive stylistic vision under the direction of principal songwriters Chapman and Whitney, with shifting lineups that included fine players such as bassist/vocalist John Wetton (who departed to join King Crimson).

While this set doesn’t come cheap, it does exhaustively document one of the most truly progressive yet sadly uncelebrated bands from a seminal period in British rock history—and in that sense it is priceless. Snapper. —BARRY CLEVELAND

This mind-boggling mashup of tones and genres is the brainchild of Clemistry, aka film composer/ guitarist Shawn Clement, and Audnoyz, aka producer/guitarist Steve Thomas. It’s a cinematic rollercoaster ride of amazing tones, textures, and moods that are too numerous to list here. Some killer highlights include the gorgeous acoustic guitar harmonics in “Audvocalese,” the harmonized backwards lines of “QMojo,” and the spy-movie power chords of “Audvoidance.” The production and orchestration is awesome throughout. Clemistry Music. —MATT BLACKETT


Tony Bacon
This is a fascinating trip down memory lane with Ibanez, full of big, full-color photos of the company’s history. The early years with the Gibson and Fender knock-offs are especially interesting. Who knew Ibanez did a Moderne copy? The ’80s and ’90s were good to them, with landmark Rich Lasner designs and top players like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani raising Ibanez to the top of the heap. Backbeat. —MATT BLACKETT

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