290:- (24-Bit Limited Remaster Edition. Mycket svår att hitta med original plastkonvolut. Bra platta till bra pris.)
A weird but good Good album, even by Family's standards. The first half is totally live, all new songs, only played live. The second side, new studio material. As a result, this is...what, a Living in the Past/Ummagumma type experiment? I dunno. Point is, the live side, while far from flawless, is pretty fantastic and a wonderful example of how Family played on stage. The second side is a little more hit and miss, but still, each side opens with powerhouse numbers, and that alone makes it a necessary album for anyone receptive to Family's brand of art rock insanity.
The opener, live side, "Good News, Bad News" is easily the best song on the album, and a downright Family classic to boot. Devilish quiet section, headbangin' loud, framed with some cool riffage. Yeah! But the best comes from the middle of the song, with some extensive vibraphone and guitar soloing, gelling onstage as only Family can.
Although not as hard hitting, the rootsy ballad "Willow Tree" does not offend, and the verses are pretty even. Watch out for the instrumental bits, where Chappo lets his goat vocals loose (nice violin though). "Holding the Compass" is another screwed up roots rocker, much bouncier and catchier, and certainly no less enjoyable (anyone else reminded of Zeppelin in the vocal delivery, by the way?). Cool geetar on that one.
The final live number is "Strange Band," further linking Family to Strange Days (remember the Family Entertainment cover!). The song lives up to the title though, strange lyrics, strange descending riff, strangely catchy. Nice use of contrast between the chuggin' verses and the gentle, violin-driven bridge.
The second side, studio side, opens with another Family classic, the harsh, driving, blues rocker "Part of the Load." The tune is bouncy yet moody, and the instrumentation is certainly captivating, but my hero is Chappo. The vocal performance is great, and the lyrics are actually pretty sturdy.
The ballad-ish "Anyway" is interesting from an instrumental point of view, the percussion is fascinating, but the acoustic driven melody leaves a bit to be desired. But it slides flawlessly into "Normans," a nice lil' instrumental. Not quite "Summer of '67" perhaps, but it's still kind of cool to hear how the band fills the solo spots between the barroom stomp of the verse (even Chappo gets a shot).
This spills over into "Lives and Ladies," a blues rocker with a somewhat gospel twinge. The lyrics aren't the greatest, I'll admit, but the tune is sturdy enough for you to make it through.
In the end, there aren't enough good numbers to make it an eternal classic, but enough of 'em to make it worthwhile. In fact, barring the title tune, nothing really gets that boring. Once again, and as usual, Family manages to be internally diverse enough to fail the dud mark, fuse enough of the hard rockin' bluesy with the good nature ballad, and play their instruments well enough not to embarrass themselves, but with enough sloppy care not to get all perfectionist and cold on us.
The whole live/studio thing is certainly an intriguing hook within itself, and it works pretty much just the way you'd expect it to with Family: the first side is packed with energy, and the second with funny studio layering and whatnot.
In fact, if you've an open enough mind, this would be an interesting place to start investigating the band. I mean, it's not like they're gonna get all avantegardey on ya, but still, the first side CAN be a bit sloppy, and the second CAN be a touch spotty. Oh, and, there's goat vocals.
01. Good News, Bad News (8:06)
02. Willow Tree (4:39)
03. Holding The Compass (4:28)
04. Strange Band (3:34)
05. Part Of The Load (4:40)
06. Anyway (3:28)
07. Normans (4:21)
08. Lives and Ladies (6:37)
09. Today (4:59)
10. Song For Lots (3:34)
11. Today (4:05)