Originally a family group in the vein of the Osmonds, by the end of the '70s the eight-piece Dooleys transformed into ABBA wannabes, going all in on Euro-pop and disco. This brought the group a Top 10 U.K. hit with "Wanted" in 1979, and this 2013 7T's two-fer chronicles the group's two subsequent albums: 1980's Full House and its 1981 sequel, Secrets. Both records were released in the '80s, but their heart belongs in the sequined, spangled, satin '70s, all shimmering disco globes and chirpy harmonies. On both these records, the Dooleys sound precisely like ABBA did three or four years prior, but there is a big difference: they're cloying and saccharine, possessing flashy, tacky European style but not much in the way of songs. Counter-intuitively, it's the second album Secrets that's the strongest here: the disco has been absorbed and there's a heavier quotient of show biz splash and soft rock. Plus, it has several oddities: "Love Me Love Me Do" surges on just the slightest hint of hard rock rhythms (call it arena disco), "In Real Life" feels like a rejected TV theme song, and "Tokyo Feeling," a novelty created for their sizeable Japanese audience, is positively bonkers. Full House is a slog -- it doesn't take long before all the irrepressible cheer grates -- but Secrets is kind of an interesting time capsule, a closet filled with every forgotten embarrassment from a neglected age.
7T's loaded up the two-disc two-fer with rarities, including B-sides, extended mixes, and songs that appeared only in Japan. For those Dooleys diehards, this is an embarrassment of riches; for everybody else it's too much of a mediocre thing.