Wednesday, July 6, 2016

FAMILY-We Are Family (2002)


I proudly welcome in a new addition to the "Music Spectrum" family tonight! Making even more progress in my backlog of unlistened to CD's and such, I finally made time to entertain (or, rather, be entertained by) the Estonian pop group that simply calls itself FAMILY. They were a discovery I'd made just this past year while in the midst of my usual boyband binges, not realizing until I reconnected with a fellow Estonian music lover that FAMILY was a mixed ensemble consisting of at least one familiar name: Lauri Pihlap, a.k.a. 'Lowry' of the all-male trio SOUL MILITIA, which was a boyband. A pleasant and unexpected surprise for me for sure! No familiarity whatsoever, however, with the other members of the group. Thanks to the bit of info provided by my Estonian friend Jane, I learned the identities of at least three of the ladies featured on the back cover artwork (Maiken, Kaire Vilgats and Nele-Liis Vaiksoo) and at least a couple of the other guys featured on the front (Bert Pringi and Lauri Liiv). Five guys and five ladies in total? Wow, that's a big family! Since Lowry and company had previously been in the "Music Spectrum" spotlight, it only seemed right that I would continue the 'family bloodlines' and present the FAMILY's first and only known album to date called "We Are Family". Does that title ring a bell? It sure did for me the first time my eyes scanned it in last year's discovery; had me instantly thinking about the classic SISTER SLEDGE disco hit by the same name. And what do you know? The title track that comes following the short introductory snippet is exactly that—rejuvenated, revamped and brought into the contemporary world of Euro-disco where it sounds absolutely fabulous! Of course, I adored every second of it, knowing how much I crave these dance covers of golden oldies from the past. So glad that I didn't pass it up the moment I came across it in the music catalogs! The ladies of the FAMILY take turns alternating lead vocals with the FAMILY guys thereafter, taking charge on the Estonian language dance track, "Sajeb Mehi". But this isn't just any Estonian language dance track; despite it being the first Estonian language song I've heard overall since Jane introduced me to the dance group 2 QUICK START (at least I think it is), the familiar chords and rhythm were a dead giveaway in telling me that it was an Estonian remake of the WEATHER GIRLS classic, "It's Raining Men". And that's such a wild coincidence, considering that lately, I've been enjoying a 1995 Eurodance cover of the same song by a lady named I.I. Simmons on one of three possible trance cover compilations: "Do It Again","Let's Do It Again: New Styled Classic Hits" and "The Greatest Covers: Euro Dance Compilation Belgium". I've been listening to all three of them repeatedly and so much that have no idea which songs come from which. But this Estonian "Sajeb Mehi" remake is awesome; the bold, powerful voices of the FAMILY ladies play a large part in that! Now that I have the Estonian language tracks on my mind..... I found both "Tahan Oodata" and the jazzy slow sway of "Siis, Kui Labi Saab Paev" to contain a lot of smooth groove appeal. Meanwhile, the disco-groovy "Sinu Valinud Ma", where Lowry and one of the girls are leading the way side by side, became an infectious addiction long before the two-and-a-half minutes was completed, especially with the bouncy, country music-flavored, make-you-wanna-kick-off-your-shoes rhythm and 'ooh ooh ooh' chimed by the ladies in main chorus—definitely lots of fun to be had on this one! Not the same high-energy charge, but the chilled-out slow number "Have Some Fun" is equally as fun a listen—and even more so once I realized that the chords and the rhythm pulled another familiar song out of my familiar banks: the traditional church hymn "Oh Happy Day". Sure sounds like the FAMILY did indeed 'have some fun' putting their mighty vocal work on display here! There's a couple of charming gems that sparked something inside of me: the tender comfort that is "Through Sunshine And Rain" (I believe that's Mr. Lowry taking the mic for this one) and the inspirational "Hope", whose words of holding on to one's dreams and soft, melancholy tonality seeps into your senses and melts the soul. Then another favorite of mine, "Not Too Much", does have much going on: some amazing sultry souliciousness on the part of whichever one of the ladies is at the mic again, whose earnest plea of 'why don't you talk to me?' alongside the somber melody have a way of sticking with you. Collectively, these eleven tracks is a fine FAMILY effort by Lowry and company. It prompts me to wonder why they all had to go their own individual ways following their first only release together, but then again, I guess that's just family business:

1. Intro
2. We Are Family
3. Through Sunshine And Rain
4. Sajab Mehi
5. Hope
6. Sinu Valinud Ma
7. Have Some Fun
8. Not Too Much
9. Tahan Oodata
10. Don't Think About Me
11. Siis, Kui Labi Saab Paev

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