The Stained Glass were probably the most prolific Bay Area band of the 1960s to not have a hit. They released a total of eight singles and two albums during their lifetime, and only managed a local hit with their third single, “We Got a Long Way to Go“.
Jim McPherson sang, played bass and keyboards, and did the bulk of the songwriting for the group. Bob Rominger played lead guitar and sang backing vocals, while Roger Hedge played rhythm guitar and sang backup as well. Dennis Carrasco rounded out the lineup on drums and backup vox. The group was known for its sophisticated vocal arrangements, and often all four members would sing on a track.
Ostensibly a pop band, the imaginative McPherson wove elements of folk, psychedelia, sunshine pop, and baroque music into their compositions.
Hedge had put the group together, and was its nominal leader until he was ousted in 1967.
The band formed as the Trolls in 1964 in San Jose, and released a single in 1965, “Walkin’ Shoes“. The track reportedly sold out in San Jose in a few weeks. In the summer of 1966, they signed to RCA as the Stained Glass. (Apparently, it was supposed to be “Stained Glass Window”, but a clerical error left out the last word, so they kept it.)
Their first single for RCA was a cover of the Beatles’ “If I Needed Someone“. RCA had predicted that the Beatles would not release this track in the US, but it appeared on Yesterday and Today. Nevertheless, the single sold well enough to enable the Stained Glass to tour the East Coast the next year.
Their next single, “My Buddy Sin“, was unique, influenced by medieval music as much as rock and roll. Featuring harpsichord and sophisticated choral harmonies, it was unusual for a pop record in 1966.
The band’s next release, “We Got a Long Way to Go”, was a big hit in San Jose. However, the follow-up, the psychedelic “A Scene in Between” did not meet expectations, and the band was dropped by RCA. By this time, Hedge was forced out over differences in musical direction, and band leadership was taken over by McPherson.
The band signed with Capitol, and would release Crazy Horse Roads, their debut album, in early 1969. The album saw the Glass purveying a sound with elements of Buffalo Springfield and the Gram Parsons-era Byrds (the country influence is especially apparent in the album title and controversial cover).
Lead guitarist Rominger was replaced by Tom Bryant, and the band released a second album, Aurora, which was no more successful than the first.
After a brief name change to Christian Rapid, the band split up. McPherson went on to record a solo album and play with John Cipollina in Copperhead (another great woulda-coulda SF band). He died in 1985.
The Song: My Buddy Sin
Written by Jim McPherson
Recorded in Hollywood, CA (August 1966)
Released as RCA single #8952 (November 1966)
Jim McPherson – lead vocals, bass, harpsichord, organ, piano
Bob Rominger – lead guitar, backing vocals
Roger Hedge – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Dennis Carrasco – drums
Billy Mure – guitar
Unknown – harmonica
Produced by Danny Davis
This is a very schizophrenic track. You’ve got this baroque harpsichord, and medieval harmonies, and minor-major shifts that make it sound like a English folk song. And then there’s this loud, chuggin’ harmonica during the choruses. Vestige of their Merseybeat past, I guess. Nice tasteful guitar solo, though. Billy Mure’s work? The sheer daring required to release this on a major label in 1966 makes it worthy of an A.
Listen to the song here.
What’s funny is I don’t see the appeal of this song in the same way you do. I mean, it’s not bad, but it left me feeling kind of “meh”. The schizophrenic nature of the song kind of works against it, in my opinion. I’m not really sure why a major label releasing this would make it worthy of an A, but, it’s still listenable. I do like the harpsichord!
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