Musicophilia Daily

[Audio] – Family Fodder – “Philosophy” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on September 7, 2009

Family Fodder – “Philosophy” (1980)

Family Fodder are the lens through which I view post-punk, my personal central nexus for the whole movement and creators of some of my very favorite albums and EPs of the era.  For me, they’re the un-U2, the un-Joy Division, the antidote to the absurdly huge shadow cast by the Big Few Names that color the genre as a dead-end of gloom ‘n politics.  Family Fodder instead pick up, run with and expand all of the best attributes of the Canterbury Scene (Caravan, Soft Machine, Wyatt, Ayers), the Texas Weirdos (Red Krayolas, 13th Floor Elevators), the Ohio Freaks (Pere Ubu, Devo, David Thomas) and even the Rough Trade/RIO Artsters (Henry Cow, Raincoats, This Heat), stir in a little French chanson and Jamaican dub magic, and infuse it all with their unmatched playfulness.

For a band whose modus operandi is fun first, a philosophical manifesto might seem counter-productive.  But “Philosophy” is a manifesto-of-fun, cleverly communicating an intellectual commitment to remembering not to get too damned grown up about it all.  That’s not to say they’re joking–the song expresses a sincere and pithy philosophy to live by while delivering a pointed critique of a zero-sum, lock-step, religious-minded “adulthood”.  They don’t get self-serious about it either, setting it all to clomping drunk-tap-dancer drums, warbling organ, and snake-charmer reeds.  They ultimately appeal to music geeks like us who see the beauty of humanity in music, and sum it all up: “when you make music, you play“.  Which is to say, you live.

[Family Fodder are featured on ‘1981‘ mixes here and here, as part of the ‘Young Lady’s Post-Punk Handbook,’ and on a volume of post-punk ‘Miniatures‘ at Musicophilia.  And coming at the end of this week, they’ll be featured in a guest-post by me (with a mini-essay) at the indispensable Post-Punk Tumblr blog as part of the “Top 35 Or So Songs of the 80s” project.]

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2 Responses

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  1. ohrensause said, on September 7, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    is it normal that the clip stops after about 20 seconds? i am pretty much dazzled by your family fodder fandom. somehow they do not ring any of my bells. the music seems pretty much unfocussed and chaotic to me. there are too many abrupt changes, not enough hooks in it. it is playful but playfulness is probably not what i look for in music. i am sure it is fun to play this kind of varied music but i am not sure if is fun to listen to. there is something annoying about it, frustrating even. i should try harder, i guess.

  2. Soundslike said, on September 7, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Alex–not normal for the clip to stop, it’s about 3 minutes long. As for getting into FF–you might try “Film Music” or “Savoir Faire” or “Dinosaur Sex,” very catchy tracks indeed–this track is admittedly one of their less “poppy” tracks, yet obviously I find it quite catchy myself. I can’t explain the draw–they did it for me in a big way the moment I heard them, and I just came to love them more and more. Unfocused and “fun to play” I could see for the 49 Americans (whom I also love) as they’re sort of the ADHD little brother to Family Fodder. But FF themselves struck me as sort of the light to This Heat’s darkness–and I *love* This Heat.

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