The Elephant

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1973)

- Ambrose Campell - percussion

- Dick Glass (aka The Elephant) (RIP 1992) -- vocals, guitar

- Russ Kunkel -- drums

- Charles Larkey -- bass

- Geoff "Jeoff" Levin -- lead guitar


  line up 2 (1975)

- Howard Cowart (RIP 2010) -- bass

- Geoff Levin -- lead guitar

- Dick Glass (aka The Elephant) (RIP 1992) -- vocals, guitar

- Ronald Zeigler -- drums, percussion





- Air Supply (Howard Cowart)

- Celestial Navugations (Geoff Levin)

- The City (Charles Larkey)

- Cold Grits (Howard Cowart and Ron Zeigler)

- The Fugs (Charles Larkey)

- Dick Glass

- Glass Derringer (Dick Glass)

- Gritz (Howard Cowart and Ron Zeigler)

- Geoff Levin (solo efforts)

- Jo Mama (Charles Larkey

- The McNeeky-Levin -Sinner Band (Geoff Levin)

- The Myddle Class (Charles Larkey)

- People (Geoff Levin)

- The Pine Valley Boys

- The Playboys (Howard Cowart)





Genre: pop

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Elephant

Company: Capitol

Catalog: SMAS-11154

Country/State: Troy, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $20.00



So here's a guy that's become more and more intriguing - maybe not so much for his music. rather for the life he led ...  


As far as I can tell Dick Glass got his musical start in the early 1960s, playing New York City clubs like Sheepshead Way, The Gaslight, and Gerde's Folk City.   Swept up in the early-1960s record label bidding war for folkies, he signed with 20th Century Fox, debuting with the 1964 album "The Well Rounded Dick Glass" (20th Century Fox catalog TFM 3138 (mono) TFS 4122 (stereo).  Judging by the album cover, the title was apparently a self-depreciating nod to his physical size. (One of my collecting regrets is having stumbled across a copy of the album at a yard sale and not having bought it.)



The album did nothing commercially and Glass struggled on recording a couple of isolated folk-oriented singles over the next three years:

- 1965's 'The Golden Touch' b/w ''Love Is Like a Baseball Game' (Wingate catalog number WG 003)

- 1966's 'Stealin', Stealin' b/w 'You Can't Stop Tomorrow' (RCA Victor catalog number 47-8788)

- 1967's 'Ethereal Baby' b/w 'Caverns' (RCA Victor catalog number 47-8898)

- 1967's 'Love's My Favorite Color' b/w 'The Little White Cloud That Cried' (RCA Victor catalog number 47- 9005)


Glass subsequently seems to have discovered Scientology, devoting time and energy into his newfound religious life.  He also seems to have become kind of an in-house Scientology music star, regularly touring throughout the group's 'missions'.   He also worked as car salesman, selling British sports cars for the Southern California based Bill Young's Sports Cars.


Released by Capitol Records in 1973, "Elephant" appeared to be a band, but for all intents and purposes it served as Glass' second album.  Larry Gluck's cover art certainly didn't give you a clue to that effect, but the song writing credits and back cover was all you needed - there in all his glory was the late Dick Glass.  Clearly the man had endured quite a journey over the last decade - from the Dick Glass shown on his debut album to the "hipster" shown here.


I have no idea how Glass caught the attention of Capitol Records, or convinced them to finance this album.  Speculation, but perhaps it had something to do with Glass' Scientology beliefs and those earlier music industry connections.  Produced by "The Atman" (no idea who that was, but someone out there will know) "Elephant" teamed Glass with former Fugs bassist Charles Larkey, ex-People guitarist Geoff "Jeoff" Levin, percussionist Ambrose Campell and drummer Russ Kunkel.  Also credited to The Atman were the '70s period piece hippy-dippy liner notes like "There is in all of us male and female ... Side one of our album is (Yin).  The gloriously divided female ... Side two. Yang.  The solid straight male dedicated and actively questing into the magic forest of the unknown.  So cast aside your Ying or Yang ... It is unlike ... They say I produced it, I don't remember.  At least not right now.Yeah, that wasn't exactly inspirational in terms of what one expected from this album.  So let's get to the meat of the subject.  What does this obscurity sound like?  The nine tracks reflected a mixture of Glass originals and a couple of cover tunes.  Songs like 'Lovely Road', 'Beautiful Day, Beautiful People' and 'A Better Way' were pretty acoustic ballads showcasing Glass' nice voice.  Geoff Levin and the rest of the band occasionally popped in to add color or a rock arrangement as in the odd 'Elephant Country' and the ominous 'The Family'.  A cover of Loggins and Messina's 'Danny's Song' stayed true to the original melody but included updated lyrics, while Hoyt Axton's 'Never Been To Spain ' was reimagined as a blues piece.  My main criticism of the album stemmed from the messaging.  I'm sure Glass was sincere in his beliefs, but listening to this collection I just kept thinking the album sounded like a recruiting ad for his beliefs.  Pulled from the liner notes, you can read some of Glass' song inspirations.  Did people really think like this in the '70s?  


"Elephant" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Lovely Road (Dick Glass) - 3:16  rating: **** stars

'Lovely Road' was a pretty ballad displaying Glass' surprisingly commercial voice.  The refrain was catchy and Levin's sitar fills were cool. Yeah, the lyrics were a good example of '70s optimism (or just being stoned).

2.) Beautiful Day, Beautiful People (Dick Glass) - 2:35  rating: *** stars 

Here's what Glass had to say about 'Beautiful Day, Beautiful People': "[the song] is about you and me and a picnic we were all on once with my good friend Raffaeli, who was is the master of light and time.  Being free and helping you to be free is what I am about. Come with me - talk to me - stop me on the street - talk, hug, laugh, be with me on my 'Lovely Road'." With a bouncy, sing-along melody the song was hyper-uplifting. Imagine Up with People after someone spiked their water with acid.  Personally it was borderline cloying; almost like a recruitment ad for lost and lonely souls.  Not sure about you, but Raffaeli forgot my invitation to the picnic.  Doesn't matter since I was busy that day.

3.) Dreamer (Richard Glass) - 3:19  rating: * star

Glass' comments on the song: "My friends, old and new, I am now, and always have been a "Dreamer".  I do believe in dreams coming true.  Dream with me.  We are the ones who can create harmony through communication and understanding."  Another acoustic ballad, 'Dreamer' replaced a catchy melody with cloying lyrics.  Yeah, I'm sure Glass was sincere in his views, but wow this one was clunky.

4.) Colorado (Richard Glass) - 3:07 rating: *** stars

Kicked along by nice strumming guitars, 'Colorado' had a pretty melody, nice vocals and was relatively free of Glass' typical preachiness.

5.) Danny's Song (Kenny Loggins) - 3:27   rating: ** stars

I never liked the Loggins and Messina original so Glass' remake didn't score with me.  Musically the changes were minimal.  "I changed some of the words ... to fit my feeling.  I can't thank you enough for writing the song."


(side 2)
1.) Elephant Country
(Richard Glass) - 5:00  rating: *** stars

The rocker 'Elephant Country' almost seemed like a jam session intended to showcase Glass' backing band - Levin's slide guitar, Larkey's melodic bass and Kunkle's rock-solid drumming.   Complete with what were apparently Japanese lyrics,  I have no idea what the song was about and the mid-song jam session went on far too long.   Here are Glass' comments on the song: "It's an adventure, a journey to a place that once was and will be again - place of safety and love - of communication and understanding - a place of peace and happiness. Come with me to 'Elephant Country" where all who live there live in happy harmony."  Wow, that's heavy.

2.) Never Been To Spain (Hoyt Axton) - 4:31 rating: *** stars

I grew up with the Three Dog Night hit cover version.  Glass' decision to remake Hoyt Axton's 'Never Been To Spain' as a blues number was another track that didn't do much for me.  Levin's screeching guitar solo (for a moment I thought it was a violin) was the song's best attribute.

3.) The Family (Richard Glass - R.G. Bennett) - 7:50 rating: **** stars

Geez, 'The Family' the title struck me as being something written for a "cult" horror film. Glass; comments didn't exactly shake that view:  "Become a member of "The Family" - we who never walk alone, always together."  Musically this was the album's most interesting performance.  Opening up with what sounded like a Kalimba (an African instrument that looks a it like a thumb piano - think about some of those classic mid-'70s Earth, Wind and Fire hits), the song started out as a subdued, ominous ballad.  Levin's eerie guitar and Ambrose Campell's percussion added to the vibe.  This one reminded me a bit of prime Merrell Fanhauser and Mu.  Cool song.

4.) A Better Way (Richard Glass - R.G. Bennett) - 3:30 rating: ** stars

So let's close out with a preachy acoustic ballad ...




Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  The Elephant

Company: Big Tree

Catalog: BT 89508

Country/State: Troy, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6100

Price: $15.00


Dick Glass's second album was released on the small Moonwatch label.  Given his earlier folk leanings and the "Elephant" album's heavy dose of '70s new-age speak, I have to admit my expectations for 1974's "The Elephant" (Moonwatcher catalog number 20001) were pretty low.  The horrible cover art certainly didn't help.  While this one certainly won't change your life it proved miles better that I ever expected.  Glass didn't have the greatest voice you've ever heard, but he made the most of his gifts using his anonymous but likable voice to good effect on the nine originals.  Exemplified by tracks like 'Seattle Morning' and 'Do What You Love' the album featured a series of highly commercial pop numbers that were characterized by Grass' knack for crafting memorable hooks.  The other thing the set had going for it was a tight backing band spotlighting bassist Howard Cowart, the return of ex-People lead guitarist Geoff Levin (featured on the earlier album), and drummer Ronald Zeigler.  Glass occasionally fell into the lame singer/songwriter school of self-indulgence ('Sailing' and a hideous cover of the chestnut 'Over the Rainbow'), but for the most part these guys (particularly guitarist Levin), managed to save the day adding a nice rock feel to many of the arrangements. Like I said, a nice surprise and even more impressive given the fact Glass managed to largely avoid mixing his religious beliefs with his pursuit of commercial pop music.  Add to that you can still buy the album on the cheap.  Worth looking for.


Doug Morris and Dick Vanderbilt's Big Tree label subsequently acquired national distribution rights to the album.  For some reason the label reordered the original track listing.  Not sure since the changes didn't make much difference.


"The Elephant" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Seattle Morning (Dick Glass) - 2:17   rating: **** stars

For what it's worth, kicked along by Geoff Levin's tasty lead guitar, the rocker 'Seattle Morning' was my choice for standout performance.  Yeah, Glass wasn't going to win a Pulitzer for the lyrics (Seattle sunshine, Seattle sunshine, Seattle sunshine, etc.), but the song was catchy and fun and would have made a dandy choice for a single.   

2.) Sweet Michelle (Dick Glass) - 3:40   rating: **** stars

Thanks to a nice rock arrangement and a killer hook, 'Sweet Michelle' was almost as good.   

3.) Little Girl Sunshine (Dick Glass) - 3:20   rating: **** stars

If you doubted the fact Glass was an accomplished guitarist, then check out the id-tempo ballad 'Little Girl Sunshine'.  Once again, the lyrics were a bit hokey, but the Glass-Levin acoustic guitar interplay was fantastic.   Great track and my only complaint was the fact the track faded out just as Glass was starting to cook.   

4.) I See You (Dick Glass - Joey Levine) - 2:50  rating: ** stars

The first disappointment, 'I See You' was a pretty, but plodding ballad that sounded like it could have been slotted in a toothpaste commercial.   

5.) Do What You Love (Dick Glass - Joey Levine - R. Bennett) - 3:34   rating: **** stars

Not sure what the weird sound effects at the end of the song were about, but 'Do What You Love' served to show that Glass could handle conventional hard rock with ease.  Once again Levin turned in some tasty wah wah guitar.   


(side 2)
1.) Fantastic Lady (Dick Glass) - 4:15   rating: *** stars

'Fantastic Lady' was another strong pop song made even better by nifty Glass-Levin guitar ...   

2.) The Pusher (Hoyt Axton) - 5:50   rating: **** stars

Previously released as a single, Glass turned in a killer cover of Hoyt Axton's 'The Pusher'.  Easily one of the best anti-drug songs ever recorded.





- 1974's 'The Pusher' b/w 'Seattle Morning' (Moowatcher catalog number 45-1002-A/B)






3.) Sailing (Dick Glass - R. Bennett) - 4:13  rating: ** stars

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but the ballad 'Sailing' seemed to be a reflection on his religious beliefs.  Didn't do much for me. 

4.) Over the Rainbow  (H. Arlen - E.Y. Harburg) - 2:16  rating: * star  

Why do people insist on recording the moldy oldie 'Over the Rainbow'?  Word of advice - don't do it.   



In increasingly poor health due in large measure to his weight, Glass died of a heart attack in 1992.


Amazingly, there's a FaceBook page devoted to Glass:




I'm sure someone out there will have the story, but there's also a strange Glass collaboration with Rick Derringer and the McCoys.  Credited to 'Dick Glass featuring Rick Derringer and the McCoys', 1976's "Glass Derringer"  (catalog number GG 58005) was released by the small LAX International label, but promptly pulled from circulation.      


"Glass Derringer" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Sharing the Victory   (Dick Glass) - 

2.) Thoughts of Melinda   (Dick Glass) - 

3.) Fourteen   (Dick Glass) - 


(side 2)

1.) Lovely Road   (Dick Glass) - 

2.) The Glass Derringer   (Dick Glass) - 

3.) The River of Life   (Dick Glass) - 

4.) Paula  (Dick Glass) - 4:00