Saturday, December 10, 2005

Stained Glass - Aurora CD (Radioactive)

Released in late 1969, Aurora was the finale of a two-album career at Capitol (Crazy Horse Roads came out earlier that year), but this San Jose trio had been a singles act on RCA as far back as 1966. This is supposed to be the better of the pair, but that recommendation is good only for 1) a few joyful minutes of fine Lennonesque disdain on “The Kibitzer,” 2) some nice phasing and reverb on “Inca Treasure” and 3) a loose-but-definite air of late-sixties punky improvisation. The band is admirably tight, but their material largely confined to Beatle-scrapings with a pellet or two of Moby Grapeshot. Jim McPherson wasn’t the worst singer a big-label sixties psych act had on offer--Mad River’s Lawrence Hammond had a voice to crisp an aardvark’s nosehairs--but he’s wildly uneven and hippie-hammy. To say the cover of Lincoln Chase’s swamp-rot standard “Jim Dandy” was ill-advised would be to detonate a twenty-megaton understatement. Stained Glass cracked up about the time this record hit the shops, but McPherson managed to retain enough of Capitol’s interest to record a solo album. In 1971, he and John Cipollina (late of Quicksilver Messenger Service) formed Copperhead, who was signed by Columbia’s Clive Davis for over one million dollars. In 1973, their eponymous lone release sank like the Empress of Ireland. (Ron Garmon)

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