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Mashmakhan - The Family

The Family
Columbia - 1971

Michael Panontin
By 1971, with a massive-selling, self-titled debut (half a million copies stateside) under their belts, Mashmakhan had dived headfirst into the heavy blues/jazz currents fashionable at the time. Unfortunately, the late-sixties hippie fare on The Family finds them foundering somewhat in leadlike Hammond chords, overwrought guitar, awkward signature changes and generally tepid harmonies. There is really nothing here like the naive pop of 'As the Years Go By' or the freaked-out energy of 'Days When We Are Free' from the first.

Chief tunesmith and multi-instrumentalist Pierre Senecal contributes the majority of the songs, but mostly bogs down in some rather flabby rhythms, tedious guitar solos and generally lame peacenik lyrics ("children of the sun, floating above the clouds"!). The Family's ponderous posturing notwithstanding, the band at this point had tapped a sizeable fan base, especially in Japan, so empty seats at their gigs were hardly the issue here. Nonetheless, the album tallied less-than-stellar sales and by 1973 they had called it a career. The Collectables label has reissued both Mashmakhan albums on one CD, though this may in fact be a strong argument for resurrecting oldies CD-singles or EPs - especially for one-hit wonders - rather than these completist, alternate-takes, demos, bathroom-breaks-and-all CD sets.


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