Fearless - Reprise 1971
New in the band in 1971 was bassist John Wetton, and with him came a slightly softer sound, especially compared to the two predecessors "A Song For Me" and "Anyway".
Most songs on this fine album are on the one hand very melodic and singable, and on the other side complex in structure and instrumentation. On several tracks there is use of a horn section, which falls beautifully and naturally into Chapman and Whitney's compositions.
Many people have found it difficult to take Roger Chapman's often wild and very personal vocals, but on this album he is on many tracks quite subdued and several songs feature vocal harmonies with John Wetton. The folk music wave was at its peak here in the early 1970s and Family are on "Fearless" clearly influenced by this.
Musically speaking, you could describe the music as an unusual fusion of prog. rock with elements of folk, boogie and blues. The album opens very strongly with the melodic "Between Blue and Me", which at once shows the group from the softer side, and the rocking side with dual guitars towards the end. "Sat'd'y Barfly" is a fine pianodriven boogie number where the aforementioned horn section comes into play. On the slightly jazzy "Larf and Sing" the listener is presented for fine and rare vokalhamonies in a Family context.
"Spanish Tide" is one of the major complex numbers and the tracks contains basically all the best in Family; by the way very nice that on this album plenty of space is given for acoustic guitars. Another highlight is the dramatic "Save Some For Thee", where the horn section again plays a significant role.
The album's second half is perhaps less significant, but nevertheless you’ll notice on "Children" soft vocal harmonies, nice vibes on "Crinkly Grin" and almost unbridled Chapman vocals on "Blind". The original album closes with the excellent "Burning Bridges".
As bonus tracks the single "In My Own Time / Seasons" is featured, and the two songs fit in well with the rest of the album. Both numbers are also recorded with Wetton. Perhaps a little odd that this single was actually the group's biggest single hit. The b-side "Seasons" is one of my favorites, just over two minutes subdued harmony in the company of Family.