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Fearless 3CD Expanded Edition

Review by Gary Hill

The Fearless album, from 1971 saw John Wetton joining Family. It also saw the sound of the group change to some degree. This new box set collects the studio album and adds to bonus tracks to make up the first CD. Two more CDs are included that are made up of live performances from the BBC. Each disc is included in its own cardboard sleeve. The package is encased in a cardboard clamshell box and a poster and booklet are added. This is an intriguing set from this influential early progressive rock band.

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Track by Track Review
CD One: Fearless (remastered)
Between Blue and Me

A folky, psychedelic vibe gets us going here. The track builds out gradually from there. Electric guitar joins after the one-minute-mark, and the song transforms to more of a psychedelically tinged hard rocker after that point. It drops down toward the folky side of thing for a bass driven movement near the end. The cut builds back outward from there into some cool jamming in a short section that ends it.

Sat’d’y Barfly
Piano starts this cut. The cut has a real jazz meet folk vibe. I'm reminded to some degree of The Strawbs here. This has a down-home kind of feeling to it.
Larf and Sing
More decidedly prog, this has some psychedelia, jazz and more in the mix. It's intriguing and unusual.
Spanish Tide
I really like this song a lot. It has plenty of cool rock in the mix. There are a number of changes and some suitably Spanish styled sound at times, too. The instrumental break is both proggy and psychedelic. It's also on fire.
Save Some for Thee
This has some horns in the mix. It's an energetic and prog-based rocker with some definite jazz rock angles built into it. It's also particularly strong. This is one of the highlights of the album for me.
Take Your Partners
Funk, space and psychedelia merge as this thing gets going. This is quite a classy jam. It's largely instrumental, but there are some vocals. It's a steadily evolving number that's another standout. It really has some great grooves. There are some horns on this track, too as it intensifies later. It also shifts to full space rock further down the road. It's hard to believe they packed that much into a song that's just under six-and-a-half-minutes long.
I really love the cool stripped back jazzy sound on this as it gets underway. The vocal arrangement is among the best here as it gets into more of a folk rock approach. While I wouldn't consider this to be a highlight, it is a lot of fun.
Crinkly Grin
I'm reminded to some degree of Frank Zappa as this jazzy prog number gets underway. It has some cool shifts and twists and turns in the most decidedly progressive rock based thing we've heard here. This is a short (just over a minute) instrumental piece.
While on the one hand this has a real driving rock sound to it, there are also intriguing prog and psychedelic angles built into it.
Burning Bridges
This has some intriguing hard rock angles. Overall, though, the dominant things here are progressive rock, space music and psychedelia. This is another standout track. It has some really great moments and moods.
Bonus tracks
In My Own Time

This makes me think of T Rex, but with some jazz added to the mix. It has some interesting changes, too. The playful jazzy groove later in the number is fun. I'd consider this to be stronger than some of the stuff on the album proper, but weaker than other songs here.

Folk and prog are both on hand here. This is an intriguing cut, but not really my kind of thing.
CD Two: BBC Sessions 1971
BBC Bob Harris Show Session
Processions / No Mule’s Fool

Intricate acoustic guitar is a big part of this as it gets going. The folk music concepts are clear as the vocals come in over the top, but this has a healthy helping of prog angle to it, too. This is so effective. It keeps growing and evolving, but doesn't really get rocking. It definitely shows off the proggy angles, though.

Part of the Load
Starting with bass, this rocker really has some cool prog vibes. Speaking of vibes, that instrument gets to show off in the killer prog meets space and jazz arrangement that ensues after a time. I really dig the vintage guitar soloing, too. That guitar work gets positively intense on a jam late in the performance.
Lives and Ladies
Starting with a short rocking introduction, this drops to a stripped back arrangement for the entrance of the vocals. That lends a folk angle to it. The cut grows outward from there. This thing gets harder rocking as it continues to drive forward. It has some more inspired guitar soloing as part of a classy jam.
Strange Band
There is a long spoken introduction on this track. They bring a cool almost psychedelic prog vibe to the number as it gets going. There is a mellower transition movement further down the road before the explode out into some harder rocking jazzy prog.
We're back into more folky modes on this cut. This gets more powered up and involved as it continues driving forward. There are definitely some world music elements in place at times.
BBC Top Gear Session
In My Own Time

This starts decidedly hard rocking. It drops back to a stripped down arrangement for the vocals and gradually builds back out from there. This is a classy rocker, but perhaps not all that proggy. It is a powerhouse.

Save Some for Thee
The sound quality doesn't seem as good here. This does have some cool folk prog stylings in place. This grows out into more rocking stuff as it continues. It's a great live performance of the earlier track.
The folk prog concepts are all over this one. It's involved and intriguing. It has a lot of style, but again the sound quality leaves something to be desired.
Burning Bridges
I really dig the trippy vibe of this live version. It's a classy live performance.
BBC Radio Bob Harris Session

I think this might work better here than it did on the studio disc. It has a lot of charm and style.

Between Blue and Me
Psychedelia and folk prog merge as this gets going. The track works into more rocking zones further down the road. In fact, this gets intensely hard rocking and yet decidedly proggy as it continues.
CD Three: BBC Radio One In Concert
Good News, Bad News

There is a good dynamic between more stripped back and rocking as this piece gets underway . The blues rock, jazz and prog concepts on board and balanced well, too. The sound quality is not ideal, though. Still, it's better than the sound on some of the previous disc, and seems to improve as the track continues. This really gets into some smoking hot jamming on the extended movement later in the piece.

Spanish Tide
This dynamic and driving prog rocker gets a great live performance here. The sound mix seems a little off at times and some of this is a little distorted at points. Still, with the dynamic range and the recording quality for live music at the time, that's to be expected. This is such a powerhouse.
Part of the Load
Another track that really excels in live performance, at times this is funky. At others it is more jam band like. Still other parts are more pure prog. The synthesizer really gets to show off on this thing. There is some smoking hot instrumental work and interplay built into this. This is an epic here, running close to ten minutes.
Drowned in Wine
This is a powerhouse number with a lot of shifts and changes built into it. It covers a lot of range and really rocks with some prog stylings.
Holding the Compass
There is a lot more of a southern rock groove built into this thing. It's still got some prog things in play, though. I don't like this as well as I do some of the others, but it has its charm and is dynamic.
Between Blue and Me
Blues rock, proggy jamming, jazz and more merge on this classy rocker. It's another strong live performance. It also has the best sound quality of anything on this final disc of the set, but the quality has been improving gradually from song to song.
This version of the acoustic based cut works well. I think it lands somewhere between the versions on the previous two CDs.
In My Own Time
This rocking features both driving bass and some killer synthesizer work. It's a fun romp.
Take Your Partners
The jam that gets this going has some killer funk rock built into it. It's also decidedly proggy and so cool. The powerhouse movement at around three-quarters mark is positively on fire.
The Weaver’s Answer
I really love the driving proggy movement that gets us going here. The synthesizer on this gets intense, but so does the whole arrangement. This really is a high point of this final disc. In fact, this might be my favorite thing on the whole set. It's on fire. At almost eight-and-a-half minutes long, this is also of a nearly epic scale. With all the dynamic range and growth built into the piece, it's certainly epic in scope.
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