In a Glass House review by Gilbert Hetu
In a Glass House, the 2nd conceptual album of Gentle Giant (the 1st was "Three Friends"), if you can find it (and if not, do harass your local record dealer until he gets it!), is really a gem! Haunting, daring, brilliant... a true masterwork of prog-rock, of GG music, and also of pure recording/engineering art (hats off to Gary Martin!). Indeed, the sound quality of the original UK WWA vinyl release is so good that if you ever hear it, you probably won't believe it is an analog recording of 1973!
This album, for me, represents typical GG boldness, fun and excellence, with very sharply contrasting sections, notably between Kerry Minnear's ever soft classical vocals and/or delicate pipe organ/sopranino recorder parts and hard-rocking Derek Shulman near-screams backed by John Weathers' binary drums, loudly played AND recorded. The bass lines of Ray Shulman are so intelligently crafted, that all by themselves, they would make a fun record to listen to in your car... You're into prog-rock and also happen to advocate clean Fender Precision sound? Dig Ray Shulman here! Other GG masterpieces like "Octopus" and "The Power and the Glory" would in fact seem a little more varied in textures or more coloured, with maybe more readily identifiable/conceivable songs per se. But "In A Glass House" just bursts with energy, weirdness (including an incredible little "Inmate's Lullaby", a truly scary tableau of a mentally retarded's institutionalised universe), menace, but also pure musical enlightenment.
If you like anything close to other circa-1973 prog-rock works (e.g. Jethro Tull's "A Passion Play", or Premiata Forneria Marconi), but you somehow missed on IAGH (it suffered an incredible lack of distribution in North America), you're in, perhaps, for one of THE FEW real musical shocks of your life!
- January 1999