Holsapple, Stamey, and Family
A new collaborative album from former dB’s bandmates Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey is a welcome occurrence – the disc, titled Here And Now, came out earlier this month on Bar/None – but as much as the record has quite a few new songs from both of them that are well worth hearing, it’s the lost classic they pulled from the scrap-heap of yesteryear that I’ve had a hard time shaking these past few weeks.
It’s called “My Friend The Sun” and it’s by a late-’60s/early-’70s British band called Family that I’d never previously heard of. They have no entry in the 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide which has sat on my shelf for a quarter-century now (perhaps because their albums were out-of-print when that edition was published), though Wikipedia provides the skeletal background: sorta prog-rock, apparently; first album produced by Dave Mason; members who also did time in Blind Faith and King Crimson; yadda yadda. If you were old enough and hip enough circa 1970, you may have heard them; I was neither, and so never did.
Family’s “My Friend The Sun” reminds me a bit of the Faces’ “Glad And Sorry” – and, in fact, Holsapple & Stamey’s revival of the former seems very much of-a-piece with Golden Smog’s late-’90s loving cover of the latter. In both cases, an endearingly weary-sounding folk-rock original is given a modern-pop lift without sacrificing any of the emotion or melodic grace; the covers perhaps even improve, or at the very least extend, upon the original versions.
The thing about “My Friend The Sun” which works so well as the leadoff track on Holsapple & Stamey’s album is that its message speaks profoundly to the present day, nearly four decades after it was written. Amid the darkness of the New Depression and the horizon of hope that Obama represents, these lyrics fit just about perfect:
Although there’s the rain
And it’s coming again
Change has to be here
Though my friend the sun
Looks well on the run
He’s there in the distance
If you care to see….