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Looking Glass - 1972 Looking Glass

ARTIST: Looking Glass
ALBUM: Looking Glass
SERIAL: KE 31320
YEAR: 1972


LINEUP: Elliot Lurie - guitars, vocals * Larry Gonsky - keyboards, vocals * Piet Sweval - bass, vocals, harp * Jeff Grob - drum kit (yes seriously) * Tasha Thomas, Barbara Massey, Carolyn Davis - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Jenny-Lynne * 02 Brandy * 03 Catherine Street * 04 Don't It Make You Feel Good * 05 Golden Rainbow * 06 Dealin' With The Devil * 07 From Stanton Station * 08 One By One

When does the knowledge that a group had a number one song make an album less exciting as before I heard this news? I'll explain, some weeks ago, after a bit of debating with a record seller I brought this album for a couple of pounds. Being a bit of a know it all, I took the record out of the cover and looked at the inside sleeve, which were quite vague, saw the first line which stated 'produced by Neil Geraldo', I assumed very quickly, and by now told the bored looking seller (actually he was a nice bloke), whilst another seller on the next stand had just brought a number of similar cheap albums from him, who then marked them up instantly for 6 pounds, you see it's all cut and thrust at the Kettering Record Fair, although I did refrain from telling the next potential Alan Sugar that I wouldn't buy Ann Boleyn's Hellion for 50 pence not at least at his new inflated price of 6 pounds.. 'he is Pat Benatar's husband, I'll take this chance', thinking it was some early recording by him before he hooked up with Patsy. Well, got home, I then realised it had the wrong insert and has nothing to do with Mr Geraldo, so other than being very short sighted I managed to make myself look like a complete.. (fill in the blanks if you like). Anyway undeterred I played the album, still none the wiser who they were, you see it's some distance between the UK and America, and as you find later, I quite liked it. So why the long face, well here I was sitting thinking, that I was going to let everyone know of an undiscovered rock album, that no one knew about, so while doing a bit of research, I then found out to my disgust, the group had a number one song in the USA (frankly they don't look like the normal boy band do they?), so that blew my image of a vinyl connoisseur yet again. Anyway, while they still mean nothing in the UK, I thought I would carry on and by the way the story has an interesting twist at the end, and for those who already know how history turns out (I know who the likely suspects are!) don't give the game away just yet!

The Songs
With the bright and breezy 'Jenny-Lynne' I am instantly struck with the general likeness to Elton John, which when you consider the vocals it's not far off, whilst there is also piano this is more in the style of ELF. It borders on Southern rock tendencies as well. While three vocalists are listed on the cover (the correct one this time) I can't specify by name which one is responsible for each particular song, (yes I'm as useful as Joe Hart at the moment).

'Brandy' is the culprit of stealing my thunder, this was the number one song they had in America, and you can see why. This time it alludes to a Boz Scaggs style song, especially with the backing vocals and very close to Westcoast sounds. This and the opening track have both got very good choruses with deluxe handling arrangements.

'Catherine Street' is very much different with the inclusion of a mouth organ, the soft tones reminds me of a mix of Jeff Buckley and Troy Newman, maybe I have a feeling of Troy, just due to the song title, on Troy's album 'It's Like This', where he had a song on it called 'William Street' (which is one of the main CBD streets in Perth W.A, Troy's home-town.. Ed) Again the southern voices ring out, beautiful chorus, almost gospel, laid back and begging to be covered by The Royal Southern Brotherhood, it ends with a guitar journey that seems to be an extension of Lynryrd Skynyrd.

'Don't It Make You Feel Good' has an instant guitar riff that dates to Status Quo, with a softer vocal performance from Devon Allman, inclusion of the horns helps and it's quite an enjoyable romp through the early 70's, and would have been included on those singles compilation of various artists going under the title of Hits Explosion, Hot Wax, or Chart Busters 1972.

'Golden Rainbow' takes an awkward slide towards country music and I can't say it really recovers. Not sure just because I'm British that I have never connected with country music, really struggle with it.

'Dealin With The Devil' is a vast improvement, you see this could stretch across the Atlantic, by the likes of The Quireboys (although not vocally) and back again to the already mentioned ELF (again not vocally.. becoming a feature this bracket stuff), its happy and fun and probably to harmless to be dealing with the Devil.

I suppose the record company where looking for a follow up single, well 'From Stanton Station' wasn't it, a slow brooding blues inspired lyrically tale of lost work and heavy drinking, with the old bout of country, wouldn't look out of place on a Rod Stewart album of the time, not vocally of course!

I'm guessing its Elliot Lurie is behind the mic for the for the last track 'One By One', and is in my opinion, the most accomplished, he is very smooth, like David Gates and is melodic which helps the album to finish with a polished arrangement. It's not going to keep the neighbours awake; it is track that just saunters by with the nice strings but still a fine way to finish the album.

In Summary
'Brandy', sold a million copies and became number 1 in 1972, a follow up album called 'Subway Serenade' was released in 1973. Right you saying big deal, so what, has this really got any other reason why this should be featured here, well this isn't the first time the name Looking Glass featured in Glorydaze, and here is the reason why. In 1974 Elliot Lurie left to pursue a solo career, he was replaced by Michael Lee Smith (sounds familiar?). Later that same year the group changed its name to Fallen Angels. A second guitarist joined in 1975 under the name Richie Ranno, keyboard player Larry Gronsky departed, but by that time they had changed their name to Starz, of course this story has already been expertly mentioned by Reyno Roxx in his 1976 article of the Starz debut. It's amazing what you learn when looking through a looking glass.

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#1 | gdazegod on November 05 2013 01:43:13
Surprised this has never seen a proper CD reissue. Of course, Piet (Pete) Sweval was another member of the Starz family.
#2 | RobLynott on November 05 2013 10:02:36
It has, George! WB made a decent sounding 2on1 (s/t + Subway Serenade) back in 2009, which is very very pricey now. If you can find it for small bucks, grab it.
#3 | gdazegod on November 05 2013 10:47:20
Thanks for that Rob, I'll try and track down the details. Thumbs Up
#4 | englandashes on November 05 2013 13:00:44
Been one or two cheaper compliations, but yes, saw the 2 on 1, very expensive!
#5 | dangerzone on November 05 2013 17:09:58
I must have heard 'Brandy' thousands of times on the radio over the years and I always thought it was Van Morrison for some reason. Always something new to learn!
#6 | Eric on November 05 2013 17:18:59
The Elliot Lurie solo album is worth checking out, nice period pop/ AM stuff.

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