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Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Glass Family Electric Band (1969) [US Original]

The Glass Family - Electric Band (1969)

Original USA stereo promo pressing
 Warner Bros. - Seven Arts Records – WS 1776  (Discogs)
~ThePoodleBites rip at 96 kHz / 24 bit FLAC + full high-res scans!~

The Glass Family Electric Band is a blissful psych-rock experience released in early 1969, at the tail end of the psychedelic wave. Despite its evolution in the burgeoning Southern California music scene, it fell off the map without a trace. This record has sounds perhaps better suited for 1967 or 1968, but nonetheless contains some stunning psychedelic tracks with highly trippy effects à la Country Joe & The Fish. Unfortunately it has never seen a reissue from the tapes, and so original pressings are still the best way to hear it. I've been wanting to put this underground psychedelic disc on the blog for about 5 years, and so it is with great excitement that I finally share it with you now!

Many thanks to Mark H. for turning me on to this great record, and also
to Jim Callon for his friendly correspondence about his experiences in the band!

Review in Billboard, 15 Feb 1969
It's a shame that The Glass Family isn't more well-known, even among psychedelic music enthusiasts. The band had the same instrumentation as their L.A. neighbors The Doors, with the Farfisa organ playing an essential element in the two groups' west-coast sound. Some band members lived in Topanga Canyon with Spirit, Neil Young (who married Jim Callon's girlfriend), Canned Heat, and others. The California hippie vibe is palpable on their recordings. As one band member writes: "We were all about mind expanding (in the '60s)  NO alcohol, speed, cocaine, heroin, etc... Marijuana, mushrooms, LSD were our thing. One time at the Fillmore in SF, we played for 4 nights behind acid. Stanley Owsley left little cups for us on our amplifiers…"

The group made some demos in 1967, but after they were rejected for major-label release, the band did some woodshedding and lots of local playing until their psychedelic record was finally recorded for WB and readied for release in February 1969. Upon its appearance, initial reviews were very positive, and despite their underground status, WB seems to have utilized standard resources advertising The Glass Family's music, including sending out promo copies to local DJs with personalized notes. The album was a non-mover, though, as evidenced by the relative rarity of the record today compared to other WB releases (Grateful Dead, Peter Paul & Mary, etc.). To hazard a guess, this was likely due to the rapidly shifting musical tides; the "progressive rock" movement had already begun, and within a month Led Zeppelin would release their first album and begin taking the world by storm. A great effort, but the Kesey bus had left the station.

The Glass Family must have been quite the live act, though sadly it seems that none of their live recordings have ever been released. The group opened for the Grateful Dead and Junior Walker at the Fillmore, but despite my best searching amongst the Deadhead collective, none of the religious San Franciscan tapers seem to have captured any of these performances on tape. There may have also been several filmed performances in southern California, as Jim Callon recalls: "We used to do free concerts a few summers in the '60s on Topanga Beach. At that time there were a few houses on the beach and they built a stage for us in front of one of the houses. They were all filmmakers who lived there, and I know they took a lot of footage… I have no idea how to get a hold of any of them, but I know they were real into us doing this… It was quite a scene… helicopters overhead (making sure the hippies didn’t get too wild), girls without tops, dancing on the sand and once a couple fell to the ground in front of the stage (during our climactic 'a Gorn') and started making love / fucking  and then everyone gathered around them to watch  I stopped the band at that point because of a moral dilemma going on in my mind; were we contributing to hedonism? / Have we gone too far with this free love stuff?..... This was all filmed."

Strangely enough, The Glass Family went on to record another album as a disco group in the 1970s, which of course is outside the scope of this blog. Lead songwriter Jim Callon (a.k.a. Ralph Parrett) spent much part of his later career as a recording engineer, notably working with Funkadelic (George Clinton, Eddie Hazel, ...), before starting a record label, branching out into distribution and opening a record store. (By the way, his label, JDC Records, has issued an awesome Hendrix-sounding CD of solo Hazel recordings; see here.) However, in 2022 the band reformed to record their second psychedelia-flavored LP entitled Invisible World. For fans of psychedelic music and especially of this band, it's essential to check out, and can be bought on CD and LP here and via digital download here.


The Glass Family album lifts off with a sound collage of electronic tape effects, wind chimes, and drums rocketing into the completely tripped-out "House Of Glass." What an incredible album opener -- responsive vocals drenched in echo bounce between speakers while guitars, organ, and aux percussion dual for the center stage. The track is timeless enough that Warner Music Group (then WEA Records) included it on their fantastic Hallucinations compilation CD in 2004, which was mastered from tapes and with excellent sound. There are a few other interesting moments on side 1, including the organ-and-clean-guitar-driven "The Means," though there are some duds here, too. "Do You Remember," while having some pleasant acoustic guitar, piano, and vibraphone, is just too sleepy for me, and the nearly pornographic last verse ("In the morning when my love was still so deep inside of you...") just doesn't sit well with me.

Flipping over to side 2, though, we are immediately treated to screeching electric guitar and bluesy wails which kick off 20 minutes of dud-free listening. The pounding "I Want To See My Baby" is followed by the funky "Lady Blue," which is best described as a '69 SoCal version of "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" complete with dismissive lyrics, organ vibrato, dual guitars, and a background piano driving the beat. The group clearly spent a lot of time working on their overdubs, crafting a unique and entertaining soundscape to match their psychedelic visions. Following two lighter rock tracks, the looping guitars of "Guess I'll Let You Go," still my favorite song on this album, drift into psychedelic landscapes adorned with percussion overdubs (bongos, tambourine) and a driving bass line. According to Jim Callon, this track (and single) apparently made it to the top-of-the-charts in The Philippines.

The closing instrumental "Agorn" floats in similar psychedelic territory with good drum work and intense organ leads. This is also the only contemporary psychedelic song or album I know which references the original series of Star Trek; a "gorn" is an alien reptile humanoid which Captain Kirk is forced to fight late in the show's first season. According to Jim Callon: "All of us loved Star Trek and Mr. Spock. When we played at Cal Tech (Jet Propulsion Labratories), everyone watched Star Trek so we couldn’t start the show until afterwards. Some of those science minded guys built this incredible water pipe… We always concluded our shows back then with A Gorn the instrumental last track on the LP…The subtitle: 'Elements Of Complex Variables' was the title of a a math book that our drummer had…"

Gatefold sleeve design from 2015 reissue, featuring the band's story

Fillmore poster, 5-8 June 1969, when the
band opened on Owsley acid for the Dead


Billboard blurb mentioning the group, 15 Feb 1969


This album was bootlegged in 2010 and 2012 from vinyl source by the Mandala and Kismet labels, both with very poor sound quality (heavy noise reduction). It then received an official reissue in 2015 on Maplewood Records, including a full bonus LP of previously-unreleased demos mastered from the original tapes. One of those bonus cuts, "Two X Two", was apparently utilized in the soundtrack of the 2018 film A Futile And Stupid Gesture, though I haven't seen it. Unfortunately this reissue was so completely brickwalled, and the vinyl itself so noisy, that the record is sadly unlistenable for me. That same mastering has now been released for web download and streaming, but since the dynamics of the original LP are so much better, this project remained high on my to-do list.

This rip presents this album in the digital realm as it was meant to be heard back in 1969. The sound is a bit bass-heavy, and after hearing "House Of Glass" from the WEA Hallucinations CD, it might take some internal adjustment to appreciate this. Nonetheless, I believe this is the best-sounding version of the album currently available, and is an essential document of the psychedelic sixties from a Californian perspective. I'll give the final word to Jim Callon, who writes: "There were so many good things about the Hippie Movement, but unfortunately it became degraded with all of the excess. Many retained their 'hippy heart', however… Now if we could just round them all up…"


Vinyl condition: Near Mint (NM) / Mint Minus (M-)
Dynamic range
:
DR 12

Track listing:
1) House Of Glass -- 3:16
2) Born In The U.S.A. -- 2:39
3) Once Again -- 2:43
4) Sometimes You Wander -- 3:08
5) The Means -- 4:15
6) Do You Remember -- 3:30
7) I Want To See My Baby -- 3:50
8) Lady Blue -- 2:53
9) Passage #17 -- 2:37
10) Mr. Happy Glee -- 2:43
11) Guess I'll Let You Go -- 2:53
12) Agorn (Elements of Complex Variables) -- 4:17

Equipment Lineage:
– Audio-Technica VMN40ML stylus on AT150MLx dual moving-magnet cartridge
– Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB direct drive professional turntable (internal stock preamp/ADC removed)
– Pro-Ject Phono Box S2 Ultra preamp with dedicated Zero Zone linear power supply
– Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 MkII (96kHz / 24bit)
– Adobe Audition CC 2022 (recording)
– iZotope RX 10 audio editor (manual declicking, EQ subtraction, additional adjustments)
– Audacity 3.4.x (fades between tracks, split tracks)
– Foobar2000 v1.6.16 (tagging, dynamic range analysis)

Thanks for taking the time to read my posts and check out my blog. I'd greatly appreciate it if you leave a small comment below. Notes from my readers are what inspire me to keep going. Thanks!
MEGA: https://mega.nz/folder/ixBnQJ5b#AN4NRABxiPADnsHdDmuoXA

Enjoy!  :)


May 2022 flyer advertisement for a band show and the new Invisible World album

18 comments:

  1. Back in 2020, when you posted The Glass Family Singles Collection, I wrote " After you posted "Guess I'll Let You Go / Agorn" single I was hoping that you'd dig up more Glass Family" ...well you did that and more back then and now the LP ...Wow !!! Your collection is truly full of a bag of plums.

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  2. Thanks for this and for the many other less well known gems you uncover. I always keep an eye on this site to discover nuggets I have not come across before. Keep "Breakin On Through To The Other Side"

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  3. Yeah, how good to see you posting with such frequency so many amazing rips. Many thanks!!!

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  4. Just downloaded and listened this morning. What a treat! Thanks!

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  5. Man Oh man, have you brought this fabulous to album. Its a brilliant album to start with but the beautiful analogue sound really brings it to a new level. One of your finest pieces of work. Many many thanks

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  6. Thanks for this excellent album

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  7. Thank you for this! The Glass Family had a release prior to the 45 in 1967 on a LP called Freakout USA. Not sure if Glass Family on the Teenage Rebellion is the same band as here.

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  8. Wow, this is really good! Thanks

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  9. Thank you so much for this incredible gem!

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  10. Excellent. Sounds great to these aging ears. Thanks for all the hard work.

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  11. TPB: Many thanks for this great album now in the best sound available.

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  12. Look at the album cover and the people on the roof, who is Judge Curtis ?

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  13. Just great. Thanks very much, TPB.

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  14. Thank you! I've never heard of this band.

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  15. Really amazing tunes. Maybe my favorite of your remasters so far. Thank you for putting in the work! I've been trying to clean up some of my own vinyl rips and have a better appreciation now for what you do!

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  16. Thanks for your utterly amazing site. After your in-depth write-up, I'm looking forward to hearing the Glass Family album, which I formerly saw and avoided in bargain bins for decades.

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