Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Glass Moon's 1st

Back in 1980, English prog-rock band Genesis was stuck in the morass of an endless, murky, sludgy album called DUKE, from which, surprisingly, two successful singles were released -- the dull, sludgy "Misunderstanding," and the almost-not-bad "Turn it on Again." And those were the album's HIGH points.
Meanwhile, down in North Carolina, an American prog-rock band called Glass Moon recorded and released their first album -- a sort-of more-commercial-sounding Genesis-style album, with catchy songs, a clear, punchy production, and excellent vocals, keyboards and guitar work.
Released on tiny Radio Records, it sold almost nothing. But maybe Genesis heard it, because their next album (ABACAB) was a pretty successful cross between arty stuff and pop....
But Glass Moon's 1st should have been a big hit. Melding the thick keyboards and Phil Collins-like vocals of Dave Adams to a catchy bunch of tunes, the punchy production should have led to lots of radio airplay. But it didn't.
There were at least four potential singles on this album. The opener, "Blue Windows," managed to be happy and upbeat despite a hookline that went "Hey, it doesn't matter at all...." Great keyboards and guitar, too. Could have been Genesis.
But that mega-star band would never have tried something as daring as "Killer at 25" -- which also manages to sound happy, despite the singer bragging (in a rather light, un-macho voice) about what a hell-raiser he was as a teenager and young adult. Maybe it wasn't meant to be taken seriously -- one line goes "Paul Simon loses no sleep over me ... I don't care/ Least I can say that I have all my hair...." Dave Adams sounds positively DELIGHTED to sing this. And there are TONS of keyboards all over this song.
"Follow Me" continues the momentum with some nice group vocals and strong keyboards -- nice chant-like choruses, too. This is followed by a leisurely, laid-back cover of Ian Lloyd's "Easy Life."
Then the obvious single at the end of Side 1 -- the rock-star-love-affair number "I Like the Way You Play," simple as a nursery rhyme. Unlike some singles, it doesn't get tiresome too quickly, despite the simplicity.
Over on Side 2, Glass Moon open with a striking, dramatic cover of Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill," crashing into it with the kind of boomy, splashy, big sound that should have made it a huge hit.
Lots of keyboards and dramatic guitar set this one off. Don't know why it never caught on. Imagine an energetic late-'70s/early-'80s Phil-led Genesis doing this song, and you've got the sound. I'll bet Pete was happy with the results, too....
The middle of the side features the introspective companion-pieces "Only Have to Cry One Time" and "The Dreamer" -- OK, if not as consistent as Side 1. "The Dreamer" features shouted punctuations of "That's right!" in the choruses, which might have helped set it off as a potential single.
But I've been saving the best for last. The closer, "Sundays and Mondays," is a huge, melodramatic lost-love piece at the center of which is an amazing, thunderstorm-like guitar solo by Jamie Glaser that is the absolute high point of the album. After that solo, the rest of the song is kind of an afterthought. But the drama remains....
Despite the strong songs and a first-rate, dramatic production by Raymond Silva, Glass Moon's 1st album peaked at about #150 in the U.S.
In 1982, the band resurfaced on Atlantic Records with an album called GROWING IN THE DARK. The songs were shorter -- five to a side -- and the group's cover of the old Hollies hit "On a Carousel" briefly got some radio airplay.
After that I lost track of them, though Wikipedia says they released at least one more album with a slightly different line-up. Too bad -- the quartet, with Glaser sitting in on star-guitar, made some high-class overlooked music.
See if you can track the first album down. It's well worth it, especially if you're a middle-period Genesis fan. And even if you're not....