Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Glitterhouse The Almost Complete Recordings, 1966-1974 CD

Coming out of the wealthy, mainly Jewish Long Island suburb of Great Neck, the Glitterhouse were, like Love on the West coast, a mildly psychedelic white pop band whose talented lead singer-songwriter was a black man. And like Love, the Glitterhouse stayed in their little corner of the world and didn’t broaden their appeal, ultimately splintering.

But it’s silly to suggest that the two bands were analogous in much beyond these broad strokes. Glitterhouse leader Mike Gayle was a less controlling personality than Arthur Lee. So when his band found themselves signed by Bob Crewe and told not to play any shows for nearly a year, so the world would be surprised when their album came out, that’s just what they did. In the studio, Crewe was best arranging seductive fairy tale psych numbers like “ Tinkerbell’s Mind” and the Zombie-ish “Happy To Have You Here Again,” less successful in the soul tunes with incongruously chipper backing vocals.

Maybe if the songs Crewe got on the Barbarella soundtrack (the band mugging vocally over overwrought session tracks) had done better… or the single had hit somewhere other than New York… but they didn’t, and soon the Glitterhouse was no more.

This generous collection, released by keyboardist Moogy “Utopia” Klingman on his own label, collects that one silver-foil album (Colorblind-First Edition), the Barbarella material, plus the charmingly fey early singles and band-recorded demos from 1968 and a too-mellow reunion attempt where Mike waxes autobiographical on “Grandma, Why Do You Live in Harlem?” Overall: nice stuff with a few killers. Too bad they couldn’t capitalize on the sound of those early singles and their live skills—but if you laid all the “too bads” in sixties rock and roll end to end, you could walk to London without wetting your feet. (Kim Cooper)

CD available from Moogymusic

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