Calling this an anthology is a bit of a misnomer. While it's an expansive two-disc set, it still completely ignores Family's first two albums. While their very psychedelic debut gave little indication of what was to come, the second, Family Entertainment, found them hitting their stride with big songs like "The Weaver's Answer" and "Second Generation Woman," where Whitney's guitar work (which has been criminally underrated) melds with horns and some prog-like arrangements for the template of the Family sound, with singer Chapman's bleating vibrato the envy of flocks of sheep everywhere. That said, this does contain its share of the bands classics in tracks like "No Mule's Fool," "A Song for Me," "Good News-Bad News," "In My Own Time," and "Sweet Desiree." As a collection, it shows that while they refined their sound, the band never altered it a great deal - but why would they need to, when they'd found something unique (except for "Drowned in Wine," which sounds like a bad Jethro Tull copy), and the chemistry remained, for the most part, quite strong. A rock & roll heart beat under it all, as on hits like "Burlesque" or "Strange Band," with its heart-quickening violin line, but overlaid with an instrumental framework that could become quite rococo at times and containing some surprising jazzy touches, exemplified on songs like "In My Own Time." They came from a time when it was still about the songs, when it was possible to be both a singles and album band, and Family did well equally both. So, while this is far from perfect introduction to their very English brand of music -- and there is no good compilation that spans their whole career -- it's still well worth having.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2