The Glass House - 1971 – Inside The Glass House
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A great album by one of lost groups on the Invictus label!
Glass House were a stellar male/female vocal group with a good deep soul sound – very much in the spirit of other Invictus albums of the era, with a tremendous feel for down home, gritty soul but executed with the smooth HDH vibe. Ronald Dunbar handled all of the production for Holland-Dozier-Holland, and he also wrote most of the tracks.
A1 Look What We’ve Done to Love 4:26
A2 You Ain’t Livin’ Unless You’re Lovin’ 3:00
A3 I Surrendered 3:08
A4 Hey There Lonely Girl 3:26
B1 It It Ain’t Love (It Doesn’t Matter) 2:43
B2 Hotel 3:05
B3 Touch Me Jesus 2:44
B4 Heaven Is There to Guide Us 3:37
B5 Crumbs Off the Table 2:46
Review by RDTEN1
When Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland left Motown Records and established the Invictus imprint, they found themselves cut off from the Motown pool of talent having to identify and recruit new talent for their label. The Glass House was one of the first acts they signed, but it was a manufactured entity, literally pulling together four individuals who’d never worked together and didn’t seem to have a great deal of personal chemistry, or even a shared musical vision – not that the latter mattered since they were a studio entity.
Ty Hunter was the oldest member of the group and the only one with any professional experience having worked with Lamont Dozier in The Voice Masters. Hunter had also recorded material with The Romeos and as a solo act. Pearl Jones’ background included a stint with The Embraceable, extensive was as a background singer, and running a children’s choir. Larry Mitchell had spent some time singing in The Classics and The Sierras, but his professional background was in advertising. Scherrie Payne (for some reason the liner notes showed her first name as ‘Scheerie’), lacked any professional musical experience, but had nepotism on her side in the form of older sister Freda Payne had already been signed to Invictus.
Produced by Ronald Dunbar, William Weatherspoon, and Greg Perry, the group’s 1969 single served as the first release for Invictus:
– 1969’s ‘Crumbs Off the Table‘ b/w ‘Bad Bill of Goods‘ (Invictus catalog number 9071) # 59 pop; # 7 R&B
That was followed by a pair of singles:
– 1970’s ‘I Can’t Be You (You Can’t Be Me)‘ b/w ‘He’s In My Life‘ (Invictus catalog number 9076) # 90 pop; # 33 R&B
– 1970’s ‘Stealing Moments From Another Woman’s Life‘ b/w ‘If It Ain’t Love (It Don’t Matter)‘ (Invictus catalog number 9082) #121 pop; # 42 R&B
On the strength of decent sales, the quartet recorded a supporting album – 1970’s “Inside the Glass House”. Even though Payne co-wrote three of the album’s nine tracks, they were totally a studio entity, and completely at the mercy of their producers. That meant the album was quite diverse with the Holland-Dozier-Holland organization using the collection as an opportunity to trot out a diverse assortment of styles and material; much of it not particularly well suited for the quartet. With a pseudo-doo-wop feel, the opener ‘Look What We’ve Done To Love‘ was seemingly written to showcase Hunter, as was the ballad ‘You Ain’t Lovin’ Unless You’re Lovin”. Elsewhere the album seemed oriented to showcase Payne in a more contemporary light. In addition to her writing credits, she handled lead vocals on most of the album highlights including the funky ‘ I Surrendered‘, the previous single ‘Crumbs Off the Table‘, and ‘Touch Me Jesus‘. Her only real misstep came in the form of the Norman Whitfield-styled ‘Hotel‘ where she came off as trying too hard. Shame the second and third singles and the original 45 ‘B’ side ‘Bad Bill of Good‘ weren’t included on the album.
With a cheesy spoken word introduction and a distinctive ’50s doo-wop feel, ‘Look What We’ve Done‘ was rather atypical for both the Invictus catalog and Glass House. Mind you Ty Hunter and Larry Mitchell turned in a nice performance, but it was definitely old school and seemed very out of place compared to the rest of the album. The song was tapped as a single. ‘I Surrendered‘ put the spotlight on Payne (who probably had the best voice of the group). In spite of the fact the song was slightly overdramatic, Payne had such an amazing voice, it simply didn’t matter. Personally, this was one the tracks I would have tapped as a single.
I’m not certain, but think Mitchell had lead on ‘Hey There Lonely Girl‘. The problem with covering a tune like the Eddie Holman hit stemmed from the fact it was so well known, there was absolutely no chance their version was going to come off in a favorable light. Their version didn’t even come close. Unlike most of the album which featured one of the members on lead with backing from the others, the breezy ‘If It Aint Love (It Don’t Matter) ‘ showcased all four members taking a turn at the spotlight. On the basis of this one, Jones and Mitchell should have gotten more spotlight time, Regardless, it was one of the best performances on the album.
One of three tunes co-written by Payne, ‘Hotel‘ sounded a bit like they were trying to pull a page out of Norman Whitfield/Barrett Strong catalog of contemporary commentary. Payne and company actually sounded like they were simply trying too hard on this one, though the opening fuzz guitar was a nice touch. I’ve never fully understand the reason Holland-Dozier-Holland used the Dunbar-Wayne credits on many of their early-’70s tunes. Why this one showed up under their true names is a complete mystery to me. Another album highlight, ‘Touch Me Jesus‘ managed to blend Gospel-inspired lyrics with a blazing, highly commercial pop-soul melody. Easy to see why it was tapped as a single.
‘Heaven Is Here To Guide Us‘ found the group at their funkiest, though Hunter didn’t seem particularly comfortable on this one; his falsetto sounding strained and shrill throughout. (The 8th Day, another Invictus group, also recorded the tune.)
With Payne again handling lead vocals, ‘Crumbs Off the Table‘ was a classic slice of Invictus- styled soul. A great, slightly funky melody coupled with some clever lyrics and that great yes-I’m-pissed-off delivery from Payne, made this one of the album’s stand-out performances. The only downside was the song was too short. Invictus actually released it in advance of the parent album.
Way too inconsistent to be labeled a classic album, but still worth checking out and you can still find reasonably priced copies.