gullbuy music review

The Royal Family & The Poor


Anthology 1978-2001


Gaia Musick


The Royal Family & The Poor CD coverThe Royal Family & The Poor are an 80s Factory or Zoo Records styled darkwave band with lyrics concerning Magick, and moody guitar/electronic songs that make me think of a less pop Wah!, Dead Or Alive before Pete Burns went club, or the duo Gene Loves Jezebel. The Royal Family & The Poor might have influenced the late 90s band Ordinary Psycho.

'Anthology 1978-2001' is a 14 song record put together by leader Michael Keane, who runs Gaia Records from his home in Liverpool besides being the band's guitar/keyboard player.

The Shakespeare quote "If music be the food of love then play on" is cited in the liner notes Michael Keane wrote for this disc. The Royal Family & The Poor did indeed play on for at least 23 years, from their beginnings in 1978 through 2001, when this record was released.

The two songs from 1978 are Rackets and Death Factory. They are taken from a double LP Factory Records sampler title 'A Factory Quartet.' The recordings are pretty rough for studio tracks. The vocals are too far out front in the mix for my taste.

The third song is Restrained in a Moment (I Love You). On this 1982 recording the band consisted of Michael Keane and Gary Daley of China Crisis. The recording is full and lush. You can hear the influence of China Crisis in this song. I like the presence of the airy background vocal.

There are 2 songs from 1984. They both were originally on The Royal Family & The Poor's Factory Record LP 'Temple of the 13th Tribe.' Peter Hook from Joy Division/New Order plays bass on these cuts. Voices is my favorite track on the disc. It starts with a sample from a movie, then becomes prime 80s gothic postpunk. The Dawn Song is too slow and ethereal for my taste.

Next are 3 songs from The Royal Family & The Poor's Factory Record LP 'We Love the Moon.' Transparent has scattershot drums and treated vocals in the intro. The song becomes an echo laden track with a high energy level and Peter Wy lie (Wah!) styled vocals. It is my second favorite track on the disc. Pagan Days and We Love the Moon (acoustic version) are OK but not astounding.

There are 4 songs from the 1987 LP 'In the Sea of E,' which originally came out as the first release on this label (Gaia Communications World Network). From this session I am not crazy about Living Light, Wounded, or Honesty, but I love the track Feast. It reminds me the most of another 80s band, Gene loves Jezebel.

There is a song from 1988 (Behind the Veil) and a song from 2001 (Hymn to Kali).

Even though this sound is not what I normally would listen to, I enjoy the tracks Voices, Transparent, and Feast. If you are a fan of any of the bands I have mentioned above you should make an attempt to check out this LP when you can.

---Carl, April 8, 2003