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Looking Glass

To the outside observer, Looking Glass were one of the luckiest bands to come up during the early '70s -- and doubly so, coming out of New Jersey in 1972 with a number one hit, three years before anyone was thinking about Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, and getting radio play on the song that has carried over into the oldies and '70s nostalgia boom over the decades since. Ironically, the bandmembers were never entirely happy with either the hit or the nature of the success that it brought them, mostly because it didn't represent what Looking Glass actually sounded like.

The group was founded by Brooklyn-born guitarist/singer/songwriter Elliot Lurie, bassist Pieter Sweval, and pianist Larry Gonsky, all of whom were students at New Jersey's Rutgers University. In their original late-'60s incarnation, Looking Glass were successful playing frat parties and local clubs before splitting up in the early '70s after graduation. Eventually, Lurie and Gonsky linked up again with Sweval and drummer Jeffrey Grob (who had been playing together in a band called Tracks), and Looking Glass were reborn. A hard rock outfit with a lot of virtuosity, they decided to try turning professional and shooting for a real career; even as they got lots of work at clubs up and down the East Coast, they began writing songs and heavily rehearsing the new material. Their music impressed Columbia Records president Clive Davis, who signed them to the Epic Records label, and a debut recording session for the company was scheduled.

After two failed attempts at recording (including one with guitarist Steve Cropper in Memphis), they struck gold with a producer named Bob Liftin and a Lurie original called "Brandy." They went through a lot of different versions before coming up with one that worked, with unobtrusive strings and horns dubbed on and the group harmonizing more than usual. Initially released as the B-side of "Don't It Make You Feel Good" in early 1972, "Brandy" was overlooked (along with the A-side) until Harv Moore, a disc jockey in the District of Columbia, flipped the single over and took it up as a personal cause. The record broke out in the city of Washington and spread rapidly, peaking six months after its release at the number one position. A self-titled debut album was released in the spring and was more representative of the group's sound. Although it didn't sell nearly the way the single had, it performed well enough, riding the charts for 16 weeks. Unfortunately, Looking Glass were never able to emulate "Brandy's success, and their next few singles failed to chart. It was a year later before another single, "Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne," reached the Top 40 for the group.

These chart successes didn't really do as much as one might have expected for the group, however. Neither hit single sounded very much like the band did on-stage -- much more representative were fast-paced rock & roll songs like "Jenny-Lynne" and "Don't It Make You Feel Good." They were a long way from the horn and string overdubbed singles by which radio listeners knew them, and inevitably many concertgoers were disappointed in their shows, which emphasized the rock & roll songs over the catchy AM pop they'd released so successfully. Lurie, wearied over the contradictions in the group's success, left Looking Glass in 1974 and embarked on a short-lived solo career that yielded a solo album and a series of unsuccessful singles. He also played live locally in the New York-New Jersey area, including a gig with Al Kooper at New York's Bottom Line. When Clive Davis founded Arista Records in the mid-'70s after being forced out of Columbia, Lurie was signed to the new company but failed to find a hit.

The other members of Looking Glass stayed together for another year, playing out their string as "Lookinglass" without a recording contract and a decreasing audience, until they called it quits in the middle of the decade. By the end of the 1970s, Lurie was no longer a performer and had moved into the motion picture business, working in music. He has supervised numerous scores, including The Last of the Mohicans, and wrote or produced the music for Night at the Roxbury, Alien 3, Mary Katherine Gallagher: Superstar, Perfect, Die Hard 2, Dying Young, and a remake of Miracle on 34th Street, among other films. Lurie and Sweval revived Looking Glass as a touring band in 2003 and hit the road with a show that included their hits, album cuts, and cover versions of rock and pop favorites from various decades. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
full bio

Comments

does anybody remember transistor radios, single headphone earpieces, Frisbees and Twister? lol I link this band with the summer of 1972 ? which happened to be when I turned 12 and INEXPLICABLY and SUDDENLY and THANKFULLY wanted to chase GIRLS insead of baseballs :-)
Good, clean pop music. Oh yeah!
I am tried of this song
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorow will be the best day of your life however if you don't post this you will die in two days. Now you started reading this so don't stop . This is so scary put this on at least 5songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works.
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorow will be the best day of your life however if you don't post this you will die in two days. Now you started reading this so don't stop . This is so scary put this on at least 5songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works.
mbb30705
I have loved this song and Brandy, You're A Fine Girl since I was 8 years old...both songs make me feel happy ;-)
Brandy You're A Fine Girl love this song.
Love it
qtrolazyg
@krispe27 sorry about your loss. The bio really needs updating!
The Dick Panthers are better.
krispe27
So glad so many people like this song by LG. Interesting that Lurie and my brother, Pieter Sweval, toured in 2003.....Pie t died in 1990 and is still missed terribly by those who loved him and his talent as a poet and lyricist.
Wore the 45 out. Recall it was included on one of the K-Tel records of the time, too!
I too named my daughter after this song. But changed it to Brandie.
anditclee
Love it
I miss this kind of music.
Some of the members of Looking Glass formed Starz a very good hard rock band, who had some minor hits Sing it shout it, and Cherry Baby,and two very fine albums in Violation and Coliseum Rock
Brandy is one of my favorite songs of all time brings back memories
atlantavirtu a l
They don't make music like this anymore!
Markman I did also tho I had her in 1980 I always knew her name would be Brandy.
I had a very happy childhood and hearing thee songs brings back the best memories!!
markman216
Named my Daughter after this song
Don't read this because it actually works.you will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life.Tomorro w will be the best day of your life.However if you don't post this you will die in two days.This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will cone not he screen in big letters.This is so scary bDon't read this because it actually works.you will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the ecause it actually works!
Love, love, love this song.
I was named after this song...
OOOOH!!! Baby BABY !!!
kbuchl
love this song, takes me back, takes me home
Always liked this tune.
Always liked Looking Glass especially Brandy. Love the lyrics of that song:!!!!
Great song. Amazing one hit wonder. Most people like it regardless of genre. Interesting story regarding the dubbed strings and horns, which I hadn't known. No doubt, along with the great vocal harmonies, those were key to this huge hit.



Plus the fact it's a good melody, lyric, and performance. Maybe it wouldn't have hurt to have mined that vein for a while. Look at what Chicago did with that recipe. You can have horns and strings along with hard rock if you work at it. Quite a qu
agchin3
I feel like I'm a little girl in Canada listen to CHUM FM radio station again when I listen to this song. I really love it!!
luv this song
Still love this song every time I hear it!!!
I remember the summer of '72 hanging out on the beach in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with my DC High School buddies when the song came on the radio!! we could not get enough of it.
Very simple, this song makes you feel good.
a ship not being steered is a good thing, in terms of jammin
I'm on a ship and it is not being steered
too honest for their own good? That is ludicrous. They stunk as a rock and roll band. Today's pretenders can learn how NOT to make a career out of music. Not allowing success to influence their music is a recipe for failure. How about sticking with something that people actually want to hear?
A classic I'll never get tired of listenin' to..
They were just too honest for their own good that they didn't allow success to influence their music. Today's pretenders can learn a thing or two from them.
If this was the type of music that gave them such a big hit, I have always wondered why they just didn't play this type of music. Maybe the hard rock thing wasn't really for them?
dkos
This song always brings back the summer of 1972, and my first real summer job.
seefriedm
I remember when Brandy first came out. The catchy sounds of the horns & strings sections dubbed in with Elliot's voice and the harmonies. I can understand the quandary the group faced as the sound did not represent their sound. From Stanton Station and many more songs on both LP's resonate of the bands life experiences. I know Elliot Lurie still sings solo and would love to see him sing live. This band was representive of the sounds of the early 70's similar to the Eagles, America Doobie Brother
I was named after the song Brandy ... i love that song !
jon12552
Always loved Brandy and even Jimmy loves Maryann
I was named after this song! SO guess it has to be a GREAT song!
Brandy,,, good song!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! !
kimeboss
Ha! Named my daughter, Brandy. I never did know all the lyrics to the song back then...my daughter told me a few years ago. lol She has never been a barmaid! lol I just love the sound of the song..
jshilan2
I went to college with Jeff Grob at Rutgers. I always thought that he was lying when he said that he was the drummer in Looking Glass.
rnbabydoll
New York City, summer of 1975, I love this group!!!! Oh my goodness,wha t a great song!!!
this band came to my High School in 1974 ( Paris High School )
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