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Dead Man’s Family

15 Jun

Been thinking hard about two bands tonight. They be FAMILY and DEAD MAN.

Family

FAMILY were bitterly curdled prog/bluesrock hippies from Leicester (never been there myself, but if it sounds like this I wanna go!). They started up in the late 60’s, throwing folk, jazz, blues, R&B, outerspace etc. together in a schizo way that spelled ART to some. But hey, these boys usually sought fit to eventually bash it all home in that grand early Brit hard rock tradition – so I stand right there with em, all the way down. And singer Roger Chapman’s voice . . . DAMN . . . that was some HEAVY SOUL CUSTARD for ya! Their records always slathered him on THICK, so your ears were like DRIPPING with it. Gooey good fun, that.

The early recs sound kinda like TRAFFIC/BLIND FAITH with Arthur Brown hollering over the top of them; the middle-period recs, like FREE tearing through the STEELY DAN catalogue; and the later daze nuthin’ so much as good ol’ FAMILY – of the crazyuncle/pervgranpa variety – on their first flight TO THE MOON. In other words: beyond words. In my alternate universe, it’s THIS stuff that corporate twats are pissing themselves silly to license for stupid MINI cars ads or whathaveyou.

I’d recommend the Family Entertainment LP for those with freshly-stamped UK tourist visas, Bandstand for miserable Sunday afternoons crusin’ the 99p shops around the Hounslow High St., and Fearless for catwalking that damp, musty, 6 ft. wide tunnel connecting Greenwich with the Isle of Dogs. Yikes!

(On a personal note: I once sold the first 3 or so FAMILY LPs to somebody named THURSTON MOORE out of a record store I used to manage in Hollywood in the 90’s. When he asked me what they sounded like, I had to fess up: “they rock pretty good but like with THE FLESH EATERS you gotta be up for dealing with a difficult singer.” Now, you can argue all you want but I’ll always swear that next Sonic Youth LP – A Thousand Leaves – hadda a distinctly FAMILY-esque vibe.)

FAMILY – “Lives and Ladies” from Anyway (Reprise Records, 1970)

But then there’s DEAD MAN.

Dead Man

DEAD MAN are kids from Sweden who kinda sorta actually look like FAMILY. They released their first, self-titled full-length in 2006 – it’s great through and through, all the way to the end. Plus: it kinda sorta sounds like FAMILY. Which is really weird. Since, clearly, this is the first record ever to be released by human beings on Planet Earth that strives to kinda sorta sound like FAMILY. I realize it’s not as twistedly tweaked as Roger Chapman & Co., and that there’s also a QUICKSILVER MS influence to be found – and maybe a bit of THE GROUNDHOGS – in the mix too. But hey give em time, they’re young. That FAMILY schizo thing is in there deep, undeniably. And there’s CUSTARD coating this Swede’s voice, too! This is a monumentous occasion, me thinks.

Dead Man – “Mumbo Jumbo” from Dead Man (Crusher Records, 2006)