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 -- vocals, drums, percussion

 

  line up 3  (1973)

NEW - 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

- Love Song (Phil Keaggy)

- 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: 3275

Price: $40.00

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 McCartney 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/

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  It Makes Me Glad

Company: Decca

Catalog:  DL7-5358
Year:
 1971

Country/State: Youngstown, Ohio

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $40.00

 

For Glass Harp's third album Decca Records originally planned on releasing a live collection.  Opening for The Kinks, a November 1971 date at Carnegie Hall was recorded and preliminary work started on the record.  For some reason Decca changed its mind, shelving the tapes, instead pushing the band back into New York's Electric Lady Studios to record a third studio set.  The live tapes remained shelved for the next twenty-six years, finally seeing the light of day in 1997 when released on CD format by Phil Keaggy's Canis Major label (catalog number 0002-2). 

 

Working again with producer Lewis Merenstein, 1971's "It Makes Me Glad" was recorded with the knowledge front man Keaggy planned on leaving the band after the project's completion.  That may explain the album's calm and somewhat understated demeanor.  With all three members sharing writing duties the album was quite diverse.  Tunes like 'Do Lord', 'I'm Going Home' and the instrumental 'David & Goliath' showcased the band's longstanding affection for conventional rock and demonstrated Keaggy's often overlooked talents as a guitarist.  At the other end of the spectrum  those efforts were offset by softer and more commercial material like the opener 'See Saw', the sweet 'Song In the Air' and the single 'La De Da'.  Hard to adequately describe, but with the exception of the giddy closer 'Let's Live Together' it just felt like the trio knew this was the end of the road and there was a certain sadness in the grooves.  Equally interesting, for an album that's popular among Christian rock fans,  the collection didn't strike me as being particularly heavy handed in terms of messaging.  Sure there were occasional nods to their faith ('Do Lord' and 'Song In the Air'), but it certainly wasn't blatant in-your-face evangelizing.  Overall it was an enjoyable collection, though not as much fun as the other two releases.

 

As promised, after the album was released, Keaggy fulfilled some tour commitments and then headed for California with his new wife.  A devoted Christian, he joined the Christian band Love Song, before moving back East  where he focused for a time on his religious beliefs and as a member of the Christian Inn community.  Pecchio and Sferra recruited guitarist Tim Burks and violin player Randy Benson and continued the Glass Harp nameplate through mid-1973.  

 

Pecchio reappeared as a member of The Michael Stanley Band.  Pecchio and Sferra subsequently reunited in The Motion.  Over the years there have also been occasional one-shot reunions with Keaggy.

 

"It Makes Me Glad" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) See Saw (Dan Pecchio) - 2:12  rating: ** stars

Well, complete with Dan Pecchio's flute instrumentation 'See Saw' was certainly a pretty, pastoral ballad, with thoughtful lyrics, but anyone expecting a slice of hardcore rock and roll was going to be puzzled..

2.) Sailing On A River (John Sferra) - 3:38  rating: **** stars

'Sailing On A River' found the trio toughening up their sound and bringing Phil Keaggy's guitar upfront.  Definitely one of rock's overlooked guitar heroes.

3.) La De Da (Dan Pecchio) - 5:45 rating: **** stars

Not sure why, but 'La De Da' (maybe it had something to do with the title), has always reminded me of something Eric Carmen and the Raspberries might have recorded.  One of the more pop-oriented tunes the band recorded, the delivery has always struck me as being flat and slightly unenthusiastic, though Keaggy's work was impressive and it got better if you could sit through to the end.  Decca released it as a single:

 

 

 

 

- 1971's 'La De Da' b/w 'David & Goliath' (Decca catalog number 32995)

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.) Colt (John Sferra) - 3:23  rating: *** stars

Opening up with some nice acoustic guitar and a cool Pecchio bass line, 'Colt' sported a breezy melody, sweet joint vocals and an upbeat message. It could have been a single.  

5.) Sea And You (John Sferra) - 4:15   rating: **** stars

With the spotlight on Keaggy, drummer Sferra was the biggest surprise to my ears.  Exemplified by the slightly ominous 'Sea and You' his contributions to the album were uniformly strong and this tune's moody demeanor was fascinating.

 

(side 2)

1.) David & Goliath (Instrumental) (Phil Keaggy) - 2:50  rating: **** stars

Widely referred to by fans as "The Trilogy", the instrumental 'David & Goliath', 'I'm Going Home' and 'Do Lord' flowed seamlessly into one another. 'David & Goliath' found the band trending gently into Allman Brothers/jam rock territory.  Initially I wasn't overwhelmed by the performance, but over time it's become one of my favorite Glass Harp tunes.

2.) Iím Going Home (Phil Keaggy) - 2:40 rating: *** stars

Geez, Keaggy and company adding a touch of funk to the mix ...  wouldn't expect it to be very good, but it was.  Shame it was so short.

3.) Do Lord (Dan Pecchio - John Sferra - Phil Keaggy) - 4:22  rating: **** stars

Once they got over the transitional section 'Do Lord' served as a showcase for Keaggy's oft overlooked chops.  It was also one of the tracks where the band's Christian roots came to the fore.  Not sure when or where it was recorded (looks like a local television program) and neither the sound or video qualify were great, but YouTube has a live performance of the track at: Phil Keaggy-Glass Harp. - YouTube

4.) Song In The Air (Phil Keaggy) - 2:35 rating: *** stars

'Song In The Air' found the trio moving back to a more pop and commercial sound.  Catchy and a nice example of how smooth their three part harmonies could be.  Here's another live performance: Glass Harp - Song In The Air - Live Circa '72 (Legendado) - YouTube

5.) Letís Live Together (Dan Pecchio - John Sferra - Phil Keaggy) - 3:50  rating: **** stars

Once they got over the transitional section 'Do Lord' served as a showcase for Ke

Given the trio's religious beliefs I remember smirking at the song title. Shame on me for being such a dark cynic since track was actually a please for peace and harmony.  Easily the album's standout performance the track sported a wonderful rollicking melody, their patented three part harmonies and sweet (if unsophisticated) lyrics.  The tune also gave all of the members a chance to showcase their technical virtuosity.  The biggest takeaway for me was how tight the Pecchio - Sferra rhythm section was.