For a band that named itself after the first dog in outer space – and previous albums called Sounds of the Satellites and Silver Apples of the Moon – you'd think Laika would make spacey ambient music with a focus on quirky beats. And they do, sometimes. The emphasis, though, of Good Looking Blues, the London quartet's third album, is to give equal attention to Margaret Fiedler's smooth, somewhat gothic-and-soul-influenced vocals and the band's mixture of rock, slow electronic, and sit-on-your-couch dance music. Fiedler, who went to grade school with Liz Phair in Winnetka, Illinois and later played in a Smiths-sounding college band with Moby, speak-sings dark fictional stories about life's basic themes: love, sex, death, and work. But it's not quite that simple. For instance, on one of the album's standouts, "Black Cat Bone," she tells a story of a woman who kills her evil husband with voodoo: "Rocks for my pillow and sand for my bed/For better or worse, I left him for dead." Laika's talent is crafting a particular mood.
Theoretically, Dr. Feelgood could have produced a fine multi-disc box set, yet the four-disc Looking Back isn't it. Although it contains the group's very best songs, including large portions of Down by the Jetty and Malpractice, it is cluttered with mediocre latter-day material, and the entire final disc is devoted to Lee Brilleaux discussing his cancer. Although his testimonial is moving, it would have been better heard on a separate disc, not as part of a comprehensive retrospective. Then again, Looking Back is filled with so many songs that only serious fans, the kind that would want an interview disc, will find it necessary. For most fans, even those with a fairly deep interest in the band, the comprehensive double-disc Twenty Five Years of Dr. Feelgood is a more logical choice.
After the commercial failure of the excellent Home of the Brave, Chris Rainbow was brought back down to earth with something of a bump by Polydor. Out went the exotic recording locations and top American sessionmen but, more critically, out too went the innovative production team of Malcolm Cecil and Bob Margouleff, who had been responsible for giving HOTB much of its spectral beauty. Perhaps the setback affected Rainbow's confidence, too, for much of Looking Over My Shoulder finds him settling back into the cosy easy listening rut of his earliest singles…
To the outside observer, Looking Glass were one of the luckiest bands to come up during the early '70s – and doubly so, coming out of New Jersey in 1972 with a number one hit, three years before anyone was thinking about Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, and getting radio play on the song that has carried over into the oldies and '70s nostalgia boom over the decades since. Ironically, the bandmembers were never entirely happy with either the hit or the nature of the success that it brought them, mostly because it didn't represent what Looking Glass actually sounded like.