Glass Harp


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1968-69)

- Phil Keaggy -- vocals, guitar

- Steve Markulin -- vocals, bass

- John Sferra -- vocals, drums, percussion

 

  line up 1  (1969-72)

- Phil Keaggy -- vocals, guitar

NEW - Dan Pecchio -- vocals, bass, flute (replaced Steve Markulin)

- John Sferra -- vpcals, drums, percussion

 

  line up 3  (1973)

- Randy Benson -- violin

NEW - Tim Burks -- vocals, lead guitar (replaced Phil Keaggy)

- Dan Pecchio -- vocals, bass, flute (replaced Steve Markulin)

- John Sferra -- vocals, drums, percussion

 

  line up 4  (1973)

- Tim Burks -- vocals, lead guitar (replaced Phil Keaggy)

- Dan Pecchio -- vocals, bass, flute (replaced Steve Markulin)

- John Sferra -- vocals, drums, percussion

 

  line up 5  (2003-)

- Phil Keaggy -- vocals, guitar

- Steve Markulin -- vocals, bass

- John Sferra -- vocals, drums, percussion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- The Great Lakes Band (John Sferra)

- Heartship (Tim Burks and John Sferra)

- Phil Keaggy (solo efforts)

- The Keaggy Stonehill Band

- The Motion (John Sferra)

- The New Hudson Exit (Phil Keaggy)

- The Human Beinz (Steve Markulin)

- The Poppy (Dan Pecchio)

- John Sferra (solo efforts)

- The Squires (Phil Keaggy)

- Michael Stanley Band (Dan Pecchio)

- Tiny Alice (Randy Benson)

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Glass Harp

Company: Decca

Catalog:  DL 75261
Year:
 1970

Country/State: Youngstown, Ohio

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3276

Price: $30.00

Showcasing the talents of singer/guitarist Phil Keaggy, bassist Steve Markulin, and drummer John Sferra, Glass Harp formed in 1968.  The trio attracted some attention throughout the Northeaster, Ohio music scene, playing parties, dances and clubs.  1969 saw Markulin leave to join The Human Beinz.  He was replaced by The Poppy bassist Dan Pecchio.

The small Youngstown, Ohio United Audio label signed the trio (Keaggy having just turned 18), funding an album's worth of demos and releasing a one-shot, psych-tinged single, before dropping the group:

- 1969's 'Where Did My World Come From?' b/w 'She Told Me' (United Artists catalog number No. 6002)

 

Recording another series of demos, the band won a local battle of the bands contest which subsequently brought them to the attention of the late A&R man/producer Lewis Merenstein.  Mersenstein flew to Ohio to check the band out and subsequently signed them to a recording deal with Decca Records.  

 

I found two copies  "Glass House" at a yard sale.  One immediately sold  and  the other one sat in my "to listen to" pile for a couple of years.   I was interested in hearing the collection, but the fact I'd read some reviews that tagged it as heavily religious and the inflow of other albums saw it sink further and further down the stack.  And then by an odd coincidence I happened to hear one of the songs off the set ('Can You See Me') and decided I needed to check the rest of the album out.

 

Produced by Merenstein, their debut featured an all original set of material with all three members contributing to the writing chores.  My initial concerns that this was going to sound preachy were ill-placed.  Yeah, if you listened closely to the lyrics on tracks like 'Can You See Me' and''' Keaggy clearly had a strong Christian faith.  Interestingly, his mother had recently passed on, seemingly providing the catalyst for his awakened faith.  While Pecchio and Sferra apparently shared Keaggy's religious faith those influences were kept rather subtle.  In fact, most of the album comes off as being non-secular.  So what you ended up with was a first-rate set of early-'70s country-rockers ('Garden'), boogie-rock ('Village Queen'), and even an occasional splash of progressive influence ('Changes (In the Hard of My Own True Love) '), that showcased one of the most talented trios I've heard.  And when I say trio, I'm not talking about a front man with backing by an anonymous rhythm section.  In addition to contributing to the writing chores, all three members sang (Keaggy had the best voice in the crew), and contributed their own stamps to the sound.  

 

"Glass Harp" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Can You See Me   (Dan Pecchio - Phil Keaggy) - 6:25  rating: **** stars

The slightly ominous instrumental opening has always reminded me of something off CS&N's debut album.  Speculation on my part, but I'm guessing 'Can You See Me' was inspired by the recent death of Keaggy' mother.  While the song had a clear religious flavor and message, it wasn't in-your-face proselytizing.  Keaggy and Pecchio also had the sense to cloak their message in a dreamy, lysergic tinged melody that had quite a bit of staying power.

2.) Children's Fantasy   (Phil Keaggy) - 4:10  rating: **** stars

I've listened to 'Children's Fantasy' dozens of times and have to admit I still can't get my ears around the fact these guys were a trio.   Kicked along by Keaggy's likeable voice and melodic lead guitar, the ballad had such a full sound, you had to wonder how much post-production work went into the track.  Apparently very little.   Easy to see why Decca tapped it as a single:

- 1970's 'Children's Fantasy' b/w 'Village Queen' (Decca catalog number 32830)

3,) Changes (In the Hard of My Own True Love)   (John Sferra) - 6:00  rating: **** stars

With an introduction that had a distinctive progressive flavor, 'Changes (In the Hard of My Own True Love)' sounded quite different than the two earlier tracks.  Even though the song featured elaborate orchestration and an extended Pecchio flute solo, it never lost direction, with Keaggy turning in one of his most melodic solos.  One of the album's standout performances.

4.) Village Queen   (Dan Pecchio) - 4:00  rating: *** stars

Musically 'Village Queen'  wasn't their most creative endeavor, but stood as a decent slice of boogie rock.  On the other hand, anyone concerned these guys were holy rollers (myself included), should be able to take comfort in the traditional rock and roll themes found here.   

5.) Black Horse   (John Sfrerra) - 2:50  rating: *** stars

Hum, I wasn't expecting to hear an acoustic, country-tinged ballad.  Sweet, pastoral melody with some nice harmony vocals

 

(side 2)

1.) Southbound   (Phil Keaggy) - 3:50   rating: *** stars

'Southbound' opened side two with another pretty acoustic ballad.  Showcasing their harmony vocals, this one would have been better without the obtrusive strings.

2.) Whatever Life Demands   (Dan Pecchio - Phil Keaggy) - 6:30  rating: **** stars

One of the most surprising things about this album came in the form of Keaggy's ability to shift his guitar sound.  Lots of players are one-trick ponies with a distinctive sound, but Keaggy was seemingly able to adapt his sound to whatever the circumstances demanded.  Here he turned in some of this most melodic moves.

3.) Look In the Sky   (Dan Pecchio - John Sferra - Phil Keaggy) - 8:10   rating: **** stars

Reading reviews you'll see more than a couple of comparisons between Glass Harp and Paul McCartney and until 'Look In the Sky' the comparison was completely lost to my ears.  Frankly, I'm not sure I'd use the McCarney comparison, rather on this rocker Keaggy sounded like Emmitt Rhodes, or maybe a slightly toughened up Eric Carmen. 

4.) Garden   (Dan Pecchio - John Sferra - Phil Keaggy) - 5:16  rating: *** stars

Keaggy's guitar grabbed the spotlight on the breezy country-rocker 'Garden'.

5.) On Our Own   (John Sferra - Phil Keaggy) - 2:30  rating: *** stars

Who put on The Everly Brothers ?   Sweet acoustic ballad that had more of a '60s vibe.  

 

 

The band have an active web presence at: http://www.glassharp.net/