Family Fodder

  • Family Fodder
  • Sunday Girls (UK Parole/Fresh) 1978 
  • Monkey Banana Kitchen (UK Fresh) 1980 
  • Greatest Hits (Bel. Crammed Discs) 1981 
  • Schizophrenia Party EP (UK Fresh) 1981 
  • All Styles 2 x 33 (UK Jungle) 1983 

These records are bizarre works of multifaceted genius from a strange musical collective. Let me try and elaborate: Monkey Banana Kitchen, listing 15 first-name-only musicians and produced by “The People in Control,” begins with a choral piece and then slowly drifts into a lengthy dub workout; when that ends, a female voice sings a chipper pop song with weedy organ and a verse in French. After that, things begin to get odd…

Every track on Monkey Banana Kitchen is an adventure — there is absolutely no consistency. The often dada results run from likable to heinous. Remarkable and great fun, it’s a record that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

All Styles, its cover adorned simply by a peace sign, is hypothetically just what the title suggests: two discs (15 discrete songs in all) that give new meaning to the word “variety.” Pre-pigeonholed for ease of reviewing, Family Fodder (here a quartet) ostensibly essay folk, classical, soul, punk, easy listening, Euro-pop, opera, jazz, country-western and more, adapting existing material as well as writing their own. In point of fact, these styles, charming and rewarding as they may be, are not very disparate at all, undoubtedly due to self-definition/delusion and the limitations of 4-track at-home recordings. They are, however, consistently enjoyable and infused with invention, cleverness, talent and a totally open outlook that discards nothing without first having an enthusiastic go at it.

[Ira Robbins]