Music in a Doll's House/Family Entertainment

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This two-CD package is a little more interesting than a typical reissue combination of two albums. Most importantly, it adds two bonus tracks, both from their pre-Music in a Doll's House 1967 single, "Scene Through the Eye of a Lens"/"Gypsy Woman," that had never been legitimately reissued on compact disc before. It's also enclosed in a hardback miniature CD-sized book, with 40 pages of liner notes and, for those who care about such things, remastered with super 20-bit technology. (Though, unfortunately, there are no additional tracks other than those from the 1967 single, although some interesting non-LP cuts are mentioned in the liner notes.) As for the music itself, it's good late-'60s British psychedelia, not quite in the first tier, but among the best bands below that level. On these first two albums, Family adeptly combined bits of hard rock, trippy psychedelia, blues, folk, poetic lyrics, and classical music into something fairly whole and coherent, though not as immediately memorable as some other groups the band resembled in some ways, like Procol Harum and Traffic. They were closer to Traffic than anyone else, particularly in their use of some non-conventional rock instruments, especially saxophones, Mellotron, and, above all, Rik Grech's violin. Still, they were more sinister and unsettling than Traffic, though not in a way that prohibited a wide variety of moods. As for the rare 1967 single, the A-side, "Scene Through the Eye of a Lens," is one of the best British psychedelic rarities from that year, moving from a pastoral ballad to a quirky hard psychedelic passage with disembodied vocals and inventive synthesizer effects. However, the B-side, "Gypsy Woman," is a blander affair that's indicative of Family's most blues-rock-oriented roots.

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