Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Stained Glass ‎– Crazy Horse Roads (1968)

Pop-rock trio Stained Glass formed in 1966, a product of the same San Jose, CA music scene that also produced the legendary Syndicate of Sound, the E Types, and the Count Five. Bassist/songwriter Jim McPherson, guitarist Bob Rominger, and drummer Dennis Carrasco quickly evolved from Beatles covers to writing original material, even though upon signing to RCA, their debut single was headlined by the Fab Four cover "If I Needed Someone." The self-penned gem "My Buddy Sin" closed out the year, and in the spring of 1967 Stained Glass scored a major local hit with "We Got a Long Way to Go." "A Scene in Between" soon followed, but the group again proved unable to dent the national charts, and RCA terminated their contract. Stained Glass signed to Capitol, issuing "Lady in Lace/Soap and Turkey" in mid-1968. Early the following year, they issued their first full-length effort, Crazy Horse Roads. Rominger soon exited, and with the addition of new guitarist Tom Bryant they released Aurora but when both albums were ignored by record buyers, the trio dissolved in November 1969. McPherson later resurfaced in Copperhead.

The first of the pair of albums Stained Glass put out in the late 1960s, Crazy Horse Roads is an odd and unsatisfying patchwork of songs following several trends of the era. The most prominent of those is Buffalo Springfield-like folk-rock with dabs of psychedelia and country-rock, though it's far more from the Stephen Stills side of the Springfield than the Neil Young one. There are also poppier folk-rock/sunshine pop tunes, sometimes slightly similar to the Lovin' Spoonful (such as the lyrically dubious "Soap and Turkey"), that almost sound like the work of a different group. You also get dainty orchestrated early Bee Gees-type pop ("Twiddle My Thumbs"), and occasional stabs at heavier passages, "Doomsday" closing with a mushroom cloud-like explosion that lasts about a minute-and-a-half. Genre-hopping isn't a problem in and of itself, but the material is ordinary, without any really strong tracks. The CD reissue on Fallout has nine bonus tracks from non-LP 1966-1968 singles, most recorded for RCA before their move to Capitol for Crazy Horse Roads, that add considerable value. Though these don't find the band any closer to establishing a distinct identity than the album did, they're generally spryer and more interesting period pop/rock of various shades, blending British Invasion, harmony folk-rock, and Baroque pop influences. The intriguingly bittersweet and catchy "My Buddy Sin," by far their most familiar track owing to its inclusion on the San Francisco Nuggets box set, is the clear highlight. But most of the other bonus tracks are pleasant enough, though some of them lapse into lame vaudevillian grooves.

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