- Excellent Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER from first note to last on this vintage Columbia pressing
- The sound is just right for this album full of rockers – big, rich and punchy with actual space and dynamics
- We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
- Some of the man’s biggest hits are here: “You May Be Right,” “Don’t Ask Me Why” and “It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me”
- 4 1/2 stars: “Instead of turning out to be a fiery rebuttal to his detractors, the album is a remarkable catalog of contemporary pop styles … That’s not a detriment; that’s the album’s strength.”
- If you’re a Billy Joel fan, this title from 1980 is surely one of his most significant releases
This vintage CBS pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What The Best Sides Of Glass House Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1980
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
The Midrange Is Key (As Usual)
Most of the copies we’re played were pinched in the midrange, which gave a hard, unpleasant copy to the vocals. Many pressings lack the kind of top end extension that helps the music come out of the speakers and gives it the energy it needs to rock. And make no mistake — this album NEEDS to rock for these songs to work. This is probably the most pure rock and roll album Billy Joel ever put out, and it’s a shame to hear these songs fall flat when they run into the problems of the typical pressing. The copies that keep you engaged are Hot Stampers, plain and simple. Unfortunately, most copies won’t get you there.
If you’ve enjoyed a 52nd Street Hot Stamper from us, or just happen to be a huge fan of this album (and I certainly know there are more than a few of you out there) I imagine you will be very happy with the sound here! Leave the grueling work of huge shootouts to your friends at Better Records, and spend your free time enjoying great sound… not searching for it.
What We’re Listening For On Glass Houses
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
You May Be Right
Sometimes a Fantasy
Don’t Ask Me Why
It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me
All for Leyna
I Don’t Want to Be Alone
Sleeping With the Television On
C’Etait Toi (You Were the One)
Close to the Borderline
Through the Long Night
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
The back-to-back success of The Stranger and 52nd Street may have brought Billy Joel fame and fortune, even a certain amount of self-satisfaction, but it didn’t bring him critical respect, and it didn’t dull his anger. If anything, being classified as a mainstream rocker — a soft rocker — infuriated him, especially since a generation of punks and new wave kids were getting the praise that eluded him.
He didn’t take this lying down — he recorded Glass Houses. Comparatively a harder-rocking album than either of its predecessors, with a distinctly bitter edge, Glass Houses still displays the hallmarks of Billy Joel the pop craftsman and Phil Ramone the world-class hitmaker.
Even its hardest songs — the terrifically paranoid “Sometimes a Fantasy,” “Sleepin’ With the Television On,” “Close to the Borderline,” the hit “You May Be Right” — have bold, direct melodies and clean arrangements, ideal for radio play. Instead of turning out to be a fiery rebuttal to his detractors, the album is a remarkable catalog of contemporary pop styles, from McCartney-esque whimsy (“Don’t Ask Me Why”) and arena rock (“All for Leyna”) to soft rock (“C’etait Toi [You Were the One]”) and stylish new wave pop (“It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” which ironically is closer to new wave pop than rock). That’s not a detriment; that’s the album’s strength.
The Stranger and 52nd Street were fine albums in their own right, but it’s nice to hear Joel scale back his showman tendencies and deliver a solid pop/rock record. It may not be punk — then again, it may be his concept of punk — but Glass Houses is the closest Joel ever got to a pure rock album.