Family Entertainment followed on the heels of Family's Music in a Doll's House with the band's first incarnation: Roger Chapman (harmonica/tenor sax/vocals), Rick Grech (violin/cello/bass guitar/vocals), Rob Townsend (percussion/drums), John "Charlie" Whitney (guitar/pedal steel guitar/keyboards), and Jim King (harmonica/keyboards/soprano sax/tenor sax/vocals). While not totally dismissing their psychedelic leanings, much of the material bears a stronger acoustic influence, in much the same manner as Fairport Convention and Traffic were also exploring. The jazzy sitar lead of "Face in the Cloud" and the even more prominent Eastern-flavored "Summer '67" somewhat date the affair, and are contrasted by the beautifully noir and trippy "How-Hi-the-Li" (which may have been the impetus for Chicago's "Wishing You Were Here") and the upbeat "Hung Up Down," sporting Grech's unmistakable violin as it wafts over the rural and slightly surreal lyrics. These sides are set against the edgy "Weaver's Answer," which immediately establishes a broader spectrum of styles, most notably given Chapman's commanding if not slightly intimidating vocals. Whitney's blistering fretwork yields bite to the Grech-penned "Second Generation Woman," while "Emotions," another full-tilt rocker, is infused with an apparent R&B homage. Interested parties should note that Family Entertainment and Music in a Doll's House were issued in a double-disc package featuring a commendable 24-bit digital remastering rendering all other versions useless -- especially the early-'90s pressing on the German Line label. Not only are both LPs included, but the 45s "Scene Through the Eye of a Lens" and "Gypsy Woman" are finally brought into the digital domain. The accompanying 40-page liner booklet is likewise a feast for the eyes.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer