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Elephant - The Elephant (LP)

Elephant - The Elephant (LP)

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Genre: pop
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  The Elephant
Company: Big Tree
Catalog: BT 89508
Year: 1975
Country/State: Troy, New York
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Comments: --
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6100
Price: $15.00

So here's a guy that's become more and more intriguing - maybe not so much for his music. rather for the life he led ...

As far as I can tell Dick Glass got his musical start in the early 1960s, playing New York City clubs like Sheepshead Way, The Gaslight, and Gerde's Folk City. Swept up in the early-1960s record label bidding war for folkies, he signed with 20th Century Fox, debuting with the 1964 album "The Well Rounded Dick Glass". As you can tell from the cover, the title was a somewhat humorous nod to his physical size.

The album did nothing commercially and as far as I can tell, Glass only recorded a couple of isolated singles over the next decade:

- 1965's 'The Golden Touch' b/w ''Love Is Like a Baseball Game' (Wingate catalog number WG 003)
- 1966's 'Stealin', Stealin' b/w 'You Can't Stop Tomorrow' (RCA Victor catalog number 47-8788)

Glass subsequently discovered Scientology, seemingly devoting most of his time and energy into his newfound religious life. He also seems to have become kind of an in-house Scientology music star, regularly touring throughout the group's 'missions'.

His next release was a 1974 single on the small Moonwatcher label:

- 1974's 'The Pusher' b/w 'Seattle Morning' (Moonwatcher catalog number 45-1002 A/B)

While the single did nothing commercially, it somehow caught the attention of Big Tree Records which signed him to a recording contract, agreeing to finance an album. Given his earlier folk leanings, I have to admit my expectations for 1975's "The Elephant" were pretty low (the horrible cover art certainly didn't help). While this one certainly won't change your life it proved miles better that I ever expected. Glass didn't have the greatest voice you've ever heard, but he made the most of his gifts using his anonymous but likable voice to good effect on the nine originals. Exemplified by tracks like 'Seattle Morning' and 'Do What You Love' the album featured a series of highly commercial pop numbers that were characterized by Grass' knack for crafting memorable hooks. The other thing the set had going for it was a tight backing band spotlighting bassist Howard Cowart, ex-People lead guitarist Geoff Levin, and drummer Ronald Zeigler. Glass occasionally fell into the lame singer/songwriter school of self-indulgence ('Sailing' and a hideous cover of the chestnut 'Over the Rainbow''),but for the most part these guys (particularly Levin), managed to save the day adding a nice rock feel to the arrangements.
- For what it's worth, kicked along by Geoff Levin's tasty lead guitar, the rocker 'Seattle Morning' was my choice for standout performance. Yeah, Glass wasn't going to win a Pulitzer for the lyrics (Seattle sunshine, Seattle sunshine, Seattle sunshine, etc.), but the song was catchy and fun and would have made a dandy choice for a single. rating: **** stars
- Thanks to a nice rock arrangement and a killer hook, 'Sweet Michelle' was almost as good. rating: **** stars
- If you doubted the fact Glass was an accomplished guitarist, then check out the id-tempo ballad 'Little Girl Sunshine'. Once again, the lyrics were a bit hokey, but the Glass-Levin acoustic guitar interplay was fantastic. Great track and my only complaint was the fact the track faded out just as Glass was starting to cook. rating: **** stars
- The first disappointment, 'I See You' was a pretty, but plodding ballad that sounded like it could have been slotted in a toothpaste commercial. rating: ** stars
- Not sure what the weird sound effects at the end of the song were about, but 'Do What You Love' served to show that Glass could handle conventional hard rock with ease. Once again Levin turned in some tasty wah wah guitar. rating: **** stars
- 'Fantastic Lady' was another strong pop song made even better by nifty Glass-Levin guitar ... rating: *** stars
- Previously released as a single, Glass turned in a killer cover of Hoyt Axton's 'The Pusher'. Easily one of the best anti-drug songs ever recorded. rating: **** stars
- Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but the ballad 'Sailing' seemed to be a reflection on his religious beliefs. Didn't do much for me. rating: ** stars
- Why do people insist on recording the moldy oldie 'Over the Rainbow'? Word of advice - don't do it. rating: * star

Like I said, a nice surprise and even more impressive given the fact Glass managed to largely avoid mixing his religious beliefs with his pursuit of commercial pop music. Add to that you can still buy the album on the cheap. Worth looking for.

"The Elephant" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Seattle Morning (Dick Glass) - 2:17
2.) Sweet Michelle (Dick Glass) - 3:40
3.) Little Girl Sunshine (Dick Glass) - 3:20
4.) I See You (Dick Glass - Joey Levine) - 2:50
5.) Do What You Love (Dick Glass - Joey Levine - R. Bennett) - 3:34

(side 2)
1.) Fantastic Lady (Dick Glass) - 4:15
2.) The Pusher (Hoyt Axton) - 5:50
3.) Sailing (Dick Glass - R. Bennett) - 4:13
4.) Over the Rainbow (H. Arlen - E.Y. Harburg) - 2:16

Apparently in increasingly poor health due in large measure to his weight, Glass died of a heart attack in 1992.

Amazingly, there's a FaceBook page devoted to Glass:
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