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Looking Glass
Epic KE 31320
Released: June 1972
Chart Peak: #113
Weeks Charted: 18

Elliot LurieThere may be some doubt whether the American people need another Great Undiscovered Rock Band story, but there it is anyway: For three long years Looking Glass, rehearsing in garages and playing fraternity beer blasts around Rutgers University, was one. The details are unimportant, suffice it to say that though unknown beyond the Ruritan, this group was turning out first-rate music of some originality.

Last fall came their Big Break. They got a couple of nights at the Gaslight A Go Go, their first New York gig. Discovery was immediate. By the second night top record company executives were ambling pleasantly back to the Gaslight's damp dressing rooms -- which resemble both a YMCA swimming pool and a jail -- like carriages filled with gifts. One of these was Clive Davis, and the group soon was signed with Epic. After a couple of false starts at studios in the south they settled down at Regent Sound in New York, and this album was the result.

Is the story going to conclude by saying that the record captures the good times laid out by Looking Glass in an average beer-slicked New Jersey hutch? Of course not, it doesn't come close. Some of it is pretty good and some of it is a straight semaphore of tedium, but the album does have a progression -- starting off weak and getting steadily better -- that is promising.

Side one is pretty much the kind of thing that drives reviewers to the bottle each month. Technically tight and perfect, it consists of four tunes which I cannot imagine sticking in the mind, the foot or anywhere else but in the grooves of the record. One called "Brandy" is about a barmaid and a sailor, and prompts me to urge a federal tax on songs about sailors written by anyone who has put in less than a year at sea. On the next cut, "Catherine Street," Piet Sweval does the vocal and manages to sound like Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad. In live performance, Sweval is impressive as a topnotch bass player, on the record his voice is prominent and his bass mixed down to the point where he might as well have done the instrumental tracks by phone. This seems to be an inversion of good sense.




Further reading on
Super Seventies RockSite!:

Single Review:
"Brandy (You're a Fine
Girl)"

Looking Glass Lyrics

Looking Glass Videos

By side two a certain momentum has taken hold. "Golden Rainbow" is a nice, sunny song, followed by "Dealing With the Devil," where a little excitement begins to surface. "From Stanton Station" is one of the better drunkard songs I've heard, an includes some nice lines: "Some men say I drink too much/I say that's just halfway true/I drink half as much as my daddy did/And twice as much as you."

My point is that this record contains some good music and shouldn't disappoint anybody who is willing to put up with some dross in return. If they can stretch out a hit, the group's next effort could be very fine indeed. Meantime, nobody should miss a chance to go hear Looking Glass live; they are very strong gentlemen.

- Timothy Ferris, Rolling Stone, 6/22/72.

Bonus Review!

Boasting a slick, commercial sound, Looking Glass reflects all that is good about soft rock. Rejecting raunch rock in favor of controlled instrumentation, sweet harmonies and catchy melodies, Looking Glass moves from solid shuffles to narrative ballads ("Brandy") with ease. This brand new quartet makes it plain to see...and hear...what makes easy listening rock so easy and listenable.

- Ed Naha, Circus, 9/72.

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