What’s your favourite Christmas Film of all time?

Matt Thomas… Scrooge – musical version

Tiffany Barton… Amorres Perros

Mike Guy… Calvaire [2004]  A Christmas Tale [2010]

Dave Valentine… Die Hard.

Gerry Forsch… Bad Santa?

Simon Chorlton… Die Hard

Chris Wilson… Cinema Paradiso

Lyn Humphrey… It’s a Wonderful Life

Terry Corder… It’s a wonderful life!

Judie Struys… The Muppets’ Christmas Carol

Pete Prescott… Its a wonderful life. The bishops wife (Cary Grant/ David Niven) Love actually, Stooge. Need to see them all, it had to be done !

Mary Lipscombe… Holiday Inn

Colin Bell… National Lampoons Christmas Vacation…love it makes me laugh every time but also has that festive ‘feeling’….



SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Family – Bandstand – Remastered and expanded edition cd.

I was delighted to receive this new re-issue of one of my favourite bands, Family with ‘Bandstand’, Esoteric Records have done a fine job, & as the title states it’s been remastered & expanded. The remastering from the original master tapes is very good, not always the case with classic albums, that some engineers ‘tweak’ too much. The original 9 track album is doubled in size by the addition of an extra 10 bonus tracks drawn from unreleased studio outtakes & 2 tracks from a BBC session from October 1972. On the latter it’s a treat to hear the warm voice of the late great Brian Matthew doing the introductions. My own introduction to Family came to me via their debut album 1968’s ‘Music In A Doll’s House’ released in July 1968. It was played to me by John Peel at his London home where I was returning some records (a long story). I was immediately hooked by this extraordinary voice that came pouring out  the speakers.I had never heard a voice like it. It of course belonged to lead singer Roger Chapman, who was once referred to as sounding like an ‘electric goat’ a somewhat unkind sounding description, but it has to be said remarkably apposite. I think for the majority of rock fans Family are a ‘marmite’ band, you either love Roger’s unique vocal & the bands mix of psyche/rock/jazz/soul/prog/art house elements or you just don’t get on with it at all, & find them irritating to listen to. I think it’s clear already I am a fan & could happily listen to them all day. ‘Music In A Doll’s House’ contained many great tracks, amongst them ‘Old Songs New Songs’, probably the most commercial song on the album which was released as a single although it didn’t trouble the charts. The band would score their first hit the following year in 1969 with the delightful ‘No Mules Fool’ (still a big personal favourite). The band were prolific when it came to recording & ‘Bandstand’ was their 6th album release in just 4 years. The lead track ‘Burlesque’ a mid tempo rocker that showcases Roger’s voice perfectly was also released as a single & became a Top 20 record following in the wake of their other single successes, with the aforementioned ‘No Mules Fool’ ‘ ‘Strange Band’ & ‘In My Own Time’. The second track from ‘Bandstand’ alters tone considerably to tell the story of ‘Bolero Babe’ a symphonic, psyche tinged song with Rogers voiced dialled back to a softer style. Which leads us into the stately (pun intended) ‘Coronation’, Family’s songs contain wonderful stories & this is no exception with its ‘kitchen sink drama’ which, as the accompanying booklet comments, could easily have come from the pen of Ray Davies. The softer side of the band is again on view with the folksy track 4 ‘Dark Eyes’ before we return to a full on Roger & the rocking track 5 ‘Broken Nose’ another social rant which bears careful listening to & musically contains elements of all the genres I described earlier. Then it’s on to my favourite track of the album ‘My Friend the Sun’ a gorgeous whimsical song on which Roger once again displays his softer almost ethereal vocal which floats gently over your senses. I should mention here that the late Linda Lewis later covered the song admirably for her 1977 album ‘Woman Overboard’ & Linda lends her voice as a backing vocalist on ‘Bandstand’. Track 7 ‘Glove’ is another pretty straight rock ballad, featuring some excellent guitar, that builds nicely from a quiet beginning & reminds me a little of ‘In My Own Time’ This is followed by the rant of ‘Ready To Go’ which adopts a more commercial & straightforward path than the bands usual stance. Indeed overall ‘Bandstand’ is probably the bands most commercial & least esoteric album & the one the casual listener may get on best with. Track 9’s ‘Top of the Hill’ closes what was the original albums second side in fine form. Then we are treated to the 10 extra tracks, the highlight’s of which for me are the live versions of ‘My Friend the Sun’ & ‘Coronation’ both demonstrating to the listener, something I already knew, from seeing them several times at The Marquee, which was that Family were a great live band who never disappointed. So there you have it, Esoteric Records very welcome new package, celebrating a wonderful band & a great album. Enjoy

for more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time….stay safe & warm…..Colin


Sue Masters… Such a good album

Peter Fairless… Great track. That Rita and Greta got a lot to answer for

Alan Esdaile… Pete, a lot of drinking and sinking

Pete Prescott…I loved the Weavers Answer, In My Own Time and Burlesque (I used to sing Burlesque in the Reservoir Cats. Sadly I sang it really badly in the Res Cats album. ) One night at the Carlisle two ladies came up and assured us that they were “Rita and Greta !” And knew the band.

Colin Bell… Thanks for sharing Pete, I’ve never heard you sing a Family number, I shall expect a demo at the next SMART meet!

Graham Sherrington… in the car on a very old CD!! my friend the sun.

Nick Bloomfield… I’m a big Family fan! The Weavers Answer which is probably my favourite. Having said that I love Roger’s singing on Shadow on the Wall!