Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Reference 160M Amplifier (February 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)

Father's ChildrenVocalion CDSML 8488
Format: CD

Musical Performance ***1/2
Sound Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****


British fans of soul music are determinedly devoted to music that American record labels often let go out of print, and dogged in their rediscoveries of obscure musicians whom even Americans didn't support the first time around. And subgenres of British soul fandom abound. The rare groove scene began in the early 1980s with British DJ Norman Jay, and soon spread to the US. Soul fans in both countries championed and searched for records by little-known '70s funk bands that got chewed up in the major-label grinder. The operative word is rare -- the more obscure the band or singer, the better.

One such discovery is Father's Children, based in Adams Morgan, a culturally diverse neighborhood of Washington, DC. They were a terrific five-piece band fronted by three singers, but their eponymous 1979 debut on Mercury Records faded without notice. Oliver Lomax's liner notes for the CD reissue on the UK-based Vocalion label tells a familiar tale of brief triumph, inexplicable commercial failure, and a quick fade to obscurity.

Father's Children had been together since the late '60s, with different names and personnel lineups, when they signed with Mercury in 1978. Wayne Henderson, the trombone player for the Crusaders, produced the album and wrote the horn arrangements for six of its ten tracks. By the '70s, the Crusaders were, commercially, a very savvy group, and Henderson's production style reflected that polish. Father's Children is '70s funk that owes at least some of its sound to Earth, Wind & Fire, the Blackbyrds (another DC band), and a few other groups of that era.

The smooth horn lines that open "Shine On" place the song firmly in time, and keyboard player Tony Vaughn's low, slightly evil laugh gives the opening just a hint of camp, but Malik Abdul Khabir's slamming bass line anchors the tune. The voices of Qaadir Abdul Mateen, Raheem A. Khabir, and Hakeem Abdul Ghani blend in effortless harmony -- I wish the liner notes identified which takes the lead in each song. "Hollywood Dreaming" is probably the group's masterpiece, with Malik Khabir once again popping hard on bass, but Khalik Abdul Hanif's guitar also holds down a tight groove, and drummer Sadik Abdul Hagg plays solidly in the pocket.

The clavinet and Arp synthesizers in "Dance Do It" seem to carry a disco mirror ball with them -- the song is a slice of '70s dance-floor funk. That's a good thing, and Hanif's guitar work makes it even better. "Music Use It" is enlivened by a wicked horn chart, and is the tune that sounds most like Earth, Wind & Fire. But Father's Children never merely copped from someone else; they retained their identity in settings that producer Henderson probably hoped would make the group more appealing.

That didn't happen, but Father's Children is a worthy choice for reissue. Maybe the group will finally get some overdue recognition and sales. Numero Group, the Chicago reissue label that specializes in what it calls "eccentric soul," recently discovered Who's Gonna Save the World, an unreleased album Father's Children made in 1973. It's a very different record from this one, more stripped down and, in many ways, more original. Until I can pick it up, I'll see if I can find my Flagg Bros. platform shoes and enjoy Father's Children in this excellent remastering by Michael J. Dutton.

. . . Joseph Taylor