Monday, June 15, 2015


YEAR:  1971
LABEL:  Atlantic Records
TRACK LISTING:  Those Were The Days - Theme,  Why God Made Hands,  Sweety Pie Roger,  Transplants,  A Station Wagon Filled With Nuns,  No Ribs?,  Do You Love Me?,  God Is Black,  VD Day,  Archie's Hangup,  Bacon Souffle & Women's Lib,  Jury Duty,  Shove Yours/Closing Theme
IMPRESSIONS:  After a year and a half of letting this blog lay fallow, I've returned.  The main reason is the death yesterday of my grandmother at the age of 97.  As usual in times of grief or tremendous stress, I find myself retreating to "comfort TV" in order to soothe the troubled waters.  So I began watching one of my favourite TV shows:  ALL IN THE FAMILY.  And it surprised me that I hadn't posted about this LP in the past; seeing as it played such a huge part in my childhood.  I've had this record as long as I can remember; obviously I appropriated it from my parents' record collection early.  It was probably my father's (my parents divorced when I was 5) and I took possession of it and, it must be said, played it to death.  There were no DVD players back in the 70s, folks, let alone VCRs so this was the only way to relive the show at will.  And this I did; resulting in the fact that I know great chunks of the first season of the TV by heart.  Anything that reminds me of the 1970s gives me a warm feeling inside and ALL IN THE FAMILY is one of the seventies-est things I know.  My late grandfather Buster was quite like Archie Bunker even though my grandmother was nothing like Edith.  And the set of ALL IN THE FAMILY reminds me tremendously of my grandparents' old house in Pennsauken -- even though it really looks nothing like it at all.  Perhaps it's because the set decoration for the show makes the Bunker residence feel like it's full of furniture and knick-knacks that have hung around since the 40's and 50's -- and my grandparents' house had the same feel.  The Bunkers have radiators for heat and so did my grandparents.  My grandmother wore "house dresses" quite similar to Edith's (and she even wore similar aprons when in the kitchen).  The stairs going up the set of the Bunkers' house remind me of the stairs going up to the second floor of my grandparents' house.  And I think you get the picture.  Meanwhile, the actual ALL IN THE FAMILY record reminds me of the millions of times at my own home I would put this record on my old record player in my bedroom and listen over and over to it as a kid.  As always, the memories of those who have left us stay alive in us when we remember them.  And those halcyon days of 70's childhood always come back to me when I listen to (or even just look at) this record.  Another favourite thing about this record is the back cover's liner notes by the show's originator Norman Lear (which I will now quote in its entirety because it's so great):  "ALL IN THE FAMILY first aired on January 12, 1971 and two days later we received our first piece of mail. It was a letter from a woman who had been divorced many years before, when her son was 4 years old. The boy had never seen his father after that. On the night ALL IN THE FAMILY debuted, her son was now 32 years old and living in a city 1200 miles away. The show was on for about 10 minutes when the lady ran to the telephone and almost broke her dialing finger phoning her son. Happily she reached him and screamed across the miles: "You always wanted to know what your father was like--well, hurry up and turn on Channel 2!!". In this album, perhaps there is a touch of your father. Or neighbor. Or me. Or you. Whatever, whoever--enjoy! -Norman Lear" 
FACT SHEET:  ALL IN THE FAMILY is an album released by Atlantic Records in conjunction with Tandem Productions in 1971.  The album features audio taken directly from the first season of the programme (with tiny edits removing "visual" jokes).  Featured on the album are main cast members Carroll O'Connor (as Archie Bunker), Jean Stapleton (as Edith), Sally Struthers (as Gloria), Rob Reiner (as Mike a.k.a. "Meathead") and Mike Evans (as Lionel Jefferson).  The Stivics' friend Roger on the track "Sweety Pie Roger" is shockingly Anthony Geary (best known as Luke Spencer from General Hospital less than a decade later).  The record also came with an interior two page booklet featuring a description of the show and cast bios.  This LP was successful enough that a Volume 2 was later released; I own that one as well but it doesn't hold as dear a place in my heart because I bought it years later in the mid-1980s from a used record dealer.

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