The Phantom Tollbooth January 2000
by Michial Farmer
Don't get me wrong. I more than appreciate KMG Records compiling these greatest hits albums. So far, they've done adequate jobs on artists like Mortal and Poor Old Lu, and in some cases, like the Adam Again and Daniel Amos greatest hits discs, they've made songs that are hard-to-find on CD available. But the collections always seem to be hastily slapped together, especially in the area of liner notes (a noteworthy exception to this was Worldwide Favourites, the Adam Again greatest hits disc, which included song-by-song essays by frontman Gene Eugene and great pictures throughout). The Best of the Lost Dogs is more of the same, and may prove to be the least satisfying of them all.
The cover, which looks like it was created in three minutes, will likely turn away many people to begin with. Those who aren't repulsed by the aesthetics will probably not appreciate the unbalanced track listing - six songs come from 1991's Scenic Routes, nine come from 1993's Little Red Riding Hood, and 1996's The Green Room Serenade is represented by only one track, "Up in the Morning." Why KMG almost completely ignored Serenade is certainly a quandary, as the album contained some of the most accessible and fun songs the Dogs have ever put out--"Cry Baby," "The Prodigal Bride," and "Sweet Work of Love," just to name a few.
Other than these obvious omissions, though, the song selection is fairly good. From Scenic Routes, we get, among others, the anthemic title track, the Beach Boys throwback "The New Physics," and the Dogs' signature song, "Breathe Deep (The Breath of God)." Little Red Riding Hood gives us the gorgeous Gene Eugene-penned "Dunce Cap," the hilariously bluegrass "Bad Indigestion," and the alternative ballad "Eleanor, It's Raining Now," just to name a few. In addition, we're offered two "bonus tracks," a live version of "Built For Glory, Made to Last" (dedicated to Mark Heard), and a 50's-type number from the never-released Green Room Serenade Part 2, "Make Believe."
To reiterate, it's not that The Best of the Lost Dogs is a bad compilation. The songs (aside from the Serenade omissions) were chosen fairly well, as well as they could be from a group like the Lost Dogs. The packaging, however, could have used some major work, and it would be nice to have some more unreleased songs.
The Phantom Tollbooth January 2000
by James Stewart
The reappearance of the Lost Dogs after several years's hiatus was surely one of the high points of 1999 for fans of left-of-centre Christian rock. This rather hastily prepared "best of" provides long-term fans with a live track ("Built for Glory"--recorded at Holland's Flevo in 1992 and dedicated to Mark Heard who'd died a couple of weeks previously) and a previously unreleased studio cut ("Make Believe") but will be of more use to introduce a new generation to the work of Messrs. Taylor, Daugherty, Eugene, and Roe. The quality of the Dogs' loose country-influenced sound varies, but the lyrics are the focus, moving from satirical humour to poignant observation and expression, often in the same piece. A must have for anyone not already familiar with the Lost Dogs, but maybe not so essential for those who know them well.
by Todd Brown
Our thanks go out to the good folks at KMG Records for their dedication to digging up and reissuing some classic music that would otherwise be laid to its final rest. Their series of reissues has thus far included volumes dedicated to Daniel Amos, Adam Again and Michael Knott, with their most recent release being a best of project dedicated to the Christian alt-rock 'supergroup' The Lost Dogs.
Made up of the front men of Adam Again, Daniel Amos / The Swirling Eddies, The Choir and The 77's the Dogs have more musical muscle than you can shake a stick at but their take on country and Americana sounds came about five years too early to latch on to the current alt-country uprising and so their early records went to an early grave despite widespread critical praise. Captured here are sixteen tracks lifted from their first three out of print albums, plus one live track and one lifted from the seemingly lost Green Room Serenade Part Two sessions.
Whether the individual song in question focuses on the Dogs rich vocal harmonies, twangs with a bit of country influence, aches with the world weariness of Gene Eugene's vocals or simply rocks out with Mike Roe's inspired blues licks it's questionable whether the Lost Dogs collective has ever written a truly bad song which couldn't have made it easy to compile any sort of 'best of' list. The approach taken here is to include the best of the material which has been unavailable for the longest time with the end result being a track listing heavily biased towards the first two albums (Scenic Routes, Little Red Riding Hood), actually including more than half of each of those first two records. If you missed out on the Lost Dogs the first time around or have always regretted not picking the first records up on CD when they were still around, this is your chance to put things right. Absolutely essential listening.