San Jose?s Stained Glass emerged from the same vibrant scene that gave us The Syndicate of Sound, The Count Five and The Chocolate Watch Band and released a series of 45s on RCA in 1966-67 (all of which make up the generous collection of nine bonus tracks). The band moved to Capitol and recorded their debut album in mid-68, with Nik Venet (Beach Boys, Fred Neil, Mad River) and Lex de Azevedo (last heard from helming the Human Beinz? ?Nobody But Me? into the Top 10) overseeing the production by John Gross and Max Hoch (who took label mates Five Man Electrical Band into the charts with ?Signs?). Featuring one of the most frightening and collectable album sleeves of the day, the album (penned by bassist/vocalist Jim McPherson, whose later claim to fame following the band?s demise in 1969 was as John Cipollina?s partner in Copperhead), is a varied collection of folk, psych and pop that unjustly sank without a trace. ?Finger Painting? is a lightweight charmer that could have worked equally well for either The Cowsills or The Monkees and guitarist Bob Rominger?s ?Soap and Turkey? (the album?s lone non-McPherson track, which was extracted as the flip side of their Capitol debut, ?Lady In Lace?) has a strong country rock aroma that wouldn?t have been out of place on Mike Nesmith?s First National Band album.
The string-laden ?Twiddle My Thumbs? is another aboutface, adding a touch of nostalgic romanticism to the set. Rominger?s fuzz guitar bleeds all over the piano stomping ?Fahrenheit,? while ?Light Down Below? sets Satanic verses about the Prince of Darkness and ?Big D.? to deliriously fuzzy effects. Album closer, ?Doomsday? reins in the terror for a tasty, Buffalo Springfield-styled country rocker, which nevertheless ends the album with an extended coda of sound effects that sound like the fallout from a nuclear blast.
Of the aforementioned bonus singles, the best are their 1966 debut single, a sunshiny take on The Beatles? ?If I Needed Someone,? the lovely harmonies of the follow-up, ?My Buddy Sin,? which gains a harder edge from its gnarly harmonica punctuations, and its jaunty, Monkees-like B-side, ?Vanity Fair? that Davy Jones probably would have killed for! A stormin? stab at Barry Mann & Cynthia Weill?s ?We Got A Long Way To Go? should?ve been a hit, and it?s pseudo-vaudevillian flip, ?Corduroy Joy? is another nonsensical concoction with tongue-in-cheek banter that recalls The Monkees? ?Gonna Buy Me A Dog? zaniness between Jones and Dolenz from their debut. In fact, several of these tracks probably could have gone a long way if McPherson & Co. could?ve got them into The Monkees hands.
The band?s most psychedelic track was their final RCA single, ?A Scene In Between? that may have been instrumental in landing that album deal at Capitol, who were in the midst of signing anything faintly psychedelic to fit in with the burgeoning youth culture. Overall, this is a wonderful period piece for fans of upbeat, somewhat flowery pop and rock, that?s essential for completists of the Cipollina Family Tree and Monkees fans alike! Just don?t let that album cover fool you! 8/10 -- Jeff Penczak (22 May, 2007)