Family Circle’s 1973 LP draws a tight ring around the most beguiling soul tropes of its era, with its full house of ambitious players and hook-laden originals. Newark, New Jersey’s Simmons siblings—George, James, Mary, Don, and David—rallied around journeyman arranger George Andrews and business maven/producer Randy Irwin, whose industry ties brought studio luminaries into the Simmons orbit: session guitar giant Cornell Dupree, guitarist/songwriter Billy Vera, and the inimitable Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on drums. Charles Simmons’ “Well Runs Dry” dipped several toes into Jackson 5-saturated waters, while “I Hope You Really Love Me” stayed together with the Al Green ethos. Where the bowling, basketball, and karate-obsessed Simmons fivesome was hitching to—thumbs unfurled and dressed to impress in Central Park on Family Circle’s back cover—is anyone’s guess, but their sparkling, layered sound, gospel-honed vocal chops, and instantly relatable melodies should’ve dropped them off on everybody’s turntable. Give Family Circle a lift, drive ‘em around awhile.
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