The Family Dogg

A Way of Life: Anthology 1967-1976

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Not to be confused with the Family Dog, the San Francisco-by-way-of-Texas promoters who helped launch the psychedelic ballroom scene in the '60s, the Family Dogg was a British pop group led by songwriters and producers Steve Rowland and Albert Hammond. While Rowland has said the group's goal was to create a U.K. answer to the 5th Dimension, their product was a great deal different than their American inspiration: neither Rowland nor Hammond could summon the soulful edge that Laura Nyro's songs brought to the 5th Dimension, and the rotating lineup of the Family Dogg prevented them from creating a distinctive and lasting vocal sound that would become their trademark. But the Family Dogg could reliably craft pop singles in a variety of styles, and they cut two albums that found them exploring more ambitious themes, 1969's A Way of Life and 1972's The View from Rowland's Head. Both albums and a fistful of singles are collected on A Way of Life: Anthology 1967-1976, which is easily the most ambitious Family Dogg compilation released to date. It's clear that the Family Dogg had an eye for talent; the first album featured piano work from one Reg Dwight before he took the stage name Elton John, and Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham also played on the sessions before Led Zeppelin took flight, while the second LP featured several songs from Sixto Rodriguez long before his album Cold Fact became a cult favorite. Most of the singles could be described as a U.K. variation on sunshine pop, with similarly glossy production but a slightly grayer sky above, while the albums often aspire to grander themes and are full of covers, as they tackle everything from Bob Dylan and Paul Simon to We Five and Mark Lindsay. Rowland and Hammond's attack is more than a bit musically broad on these sides, but it's hard to fault the Family Dogg for their ambition, and the records sound solid decades later, though someone should have convinced them recitations like "Family Dog" and "Jesus Loves Me" were always a bad idea. Featuring a well-detailed liner essay from John Reed, A Way of Life has just about anything someone interested in the Family Dogg would need, and fans of U.K. pop from the era when the '60s began to give way to the '70s will be pleased.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2:39
2 3:16
3
2:43
4 1:44
5
3:23
6 2:40
7
3:22
8 1:58
9
4:07
10
1:53
11
2:57
12
2:35
13
3:10
14
3:56
15
2:45
16
3:23
17
2:58
18
3:31
19
2:39
20 3:34
21 4:09
22
3:08
23
2:45
24 2:09
25
feat: Cisco / Pancho
2:11
26
feat: Cisco / Pancho
3:16
27
2:19

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:37
2 2:37
3
3:52
4 2:10
5 3:21
6
feat: Ireen Sheer
2:25
7
feat: Ireen Sheer
2:51
8
feat: Ireen Sheer
2:34
9
feat: Ireen Sheer
3:21
10
3:24
11
3:35
12 3:12
13 3:46
14 2:40
15 2:28
16
2:55
17
3:36
18
6:02
19 4:10
20 1:59
21
2:59
22 3:28
23 4:13
24
4:01
blue highlight denotes track pick