Glass Harp recorded their first album in 1970, a self-titled effort on Decca that united the rhythm section of John Sferra (drums) and Dan Pecchio (bass) with guitar phenom Phil Keaggy. The band added albums in 1971 and 1972 before Keaggy left for a solo career in Christian music. A 1997 release of their long-lost 1971 Carnegie Hall concert (when Phil & John were still teens) gave Glass Harp fans a taste of what the trio was like live.
Although Synergy was the title of Glass Harp's second studio project (1971), the term is most applicable to their live performances. Phil has recorded numerous wonderful studio moments, but he's always been at his best when he's in a live setting, jamming and improvising with abandon. Strings Attached, recorded when the band played their hometown of Youngstown, Ohio for the first time in more than 25 years, captures Phil's energy, reminding me of his comment from the How The West Was One triple album from the 70s: "It's a joy to play my instrument to the Lord!"
We're treated to seven of the ten tracks from the original Glass Harp album and eight more from the other two projects. A couple of newer Glass Harp songs as well as Keaggy staples such as True Believer and Tender Love round out the project. (For a complete track listing, visit the Glass Harp web site.) A special treat--not to mention the source of the album name--is the presence of the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra. They help create a fuller sound than would normally be possible on a live project, but never get in the way of the band's legendary jam sessions.
You simply can not be considered a legitimate Keaggy or Glass Harp fan if you don't have Strings Attached. It's a great introduction for those new to Glass Harp, and will provide hours of listening pleasure for old fans and new alike. For those who know Phil primarily as a gentle acoustic guitarist or consider his work suitable primarily for peaceful painting sessions, some of the scorching guitar solos on Strings Attached should provide a whole new perspective.
Glass Harp has enjoyed their reunion concerts so much that they've written a new project called Hourglass. It should be released shortly. In the meantime, enjoy Strings Attached, one of the best live albums I've ever heard.
Order from the Glass Harp web site.