Empty Glass

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Empty Glass
Studio album by Pete Townshend
Released 21 April 1980
Recorded 1978–80 at Eel Pie Studios and A.I.R. Studios, London, UK
Genre Rock, Post-punk
Length 39:46
Label Atco Records
Producer Pete Townshend, Chris Thomas
Pete Townshend chronology
Rough Mix
(1977)
Empty Glass
(1980)
All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes
(1982)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau B−[3]
Smash Hits 7/10[4]
PopMatters 7/10 stars[5]

Empty Glass was released in 1980 as the first Pete Townshend solo album (Who Came First was a collection of demo recordings and Meher Baba-inspired songs, while Rough Mix was written and recorded with Ronnie Lane) and was his most successful.

The album deals with a plethora of issues that Townshend was struggling with, including alcoholism, drug abuse, marital problems and deceased friends.

Empty Glass also contained the devotional love song, "Let My Love Open the Door", which became a top ten hit single in the US, along with the other (modestly successful) singles, "Rough Boys" and "A Little Is Enough".

The album was rated No. 57 on Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s. Gibson had a poll which rated the album at No. 5 for "The greatest albums released by an artist who was previously in a successful band".

History[edit]

The origins of the album's title are described in the following quote from Townshend (taken from an interview with Murray Lerner on the film "The Who: Live at the Isle of Wight" Festival"):

"And when I did my first solo album, I called it Empty Glass, 'cause of this idea that when you go to the tavern – which is to God, you know – and you ask for His love – He's the bartender, you know – and He gives you a drink, and what you have to give Him is an empty glass. You know there's no point giving Him your heart if it's full already; there's no point going to God if your heart's full of Doris."

This concept was derived from the work of the Persian poet Hafez, which Townshend became interested in from his involvement with Avatar, Meher Baba.

The album was written and recorded between 1978 and 1980, when activity with The Who had started to pick up again, and Townshend found himself having to write for both his solo projects and his band.

As a result, Empty Glass, when compared with The Who's 1981 album Face Dances, was considered the superior album, with many critics calling it an album by The Who that never was.

Roger Daltrey later commented that he felt let down by Townshend, and that many of the songs from the album would have worked well for The Who, among them "Rough Boys" and "Empty Glass"; Townshend countered by saying that he felt "Rough Boys" was the one song Roger Daltrey would have wanted clarified (in terms of the song's homoerotic subtext) and toned down if he were to sing it, thus defeating its message, while "Empty Glass" had been recorded during sessions for Who Are You in 1978, with a version featuring Keith Moon on drums and John Entwistle on bass released on the 1996 reissue of that album. This version is notable for the more suicidal undertones in the lyrics that were changed in the final, solo version. The line "Killing each other, then we jump off the ledge" from the Who Are You sessions was changed to "Killing each other by driving a wedge".

Cover art[edit]

The sleeve was designed by photographer Bob Carlos Clarke.[6] The album's title is an allusion to a poem by the Sufi poet Hafez.[citation needed]

The sleeve cover of the vinyl album (SD 33–100) includes this dedication:

This album is dedicated to my wife Karen.
"Rough Boys" is dedicated to my children Emma and Minta and to the Sex Pistols.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Pete Townshend

No. Title Length
1. "Rough Boys"   4:02
2. "I Am an Animal"   3:51
3. "And I Moved"   3:21
4. "Let My Love Open the Door"   2:44
5. "Jools and Jim"   2:36
6. "Keep On Working"   3:23
7. "Cat's in the Cupboard"   3:34
8. "A Little Is Enough"   4:42
9. "Empty Glass"   5:25
10. "Gonna Get Ya"   6:25
Bonus tracks (Included only on the 2006 Hip-O US and Imperial Japan CD Release)
No. Title Length
11. "I Am an Animal (Demo Alternate Vocal Version)"   3:48
12. "Keep On Working (Demo Alternate Vocal Version)"   3:32
13. "And I Moved (Demo Alternate Vocal Version)"   3:06
14. "Gonna Get Ya (Work-in-Progress Long Version)"   11:24

Non-album tracks[edit]

  1. "Classified" (Demo Recorded in 1970 Released as a B-side on several 1980 European single releases of "Let My Love Open the Door")
  2. "Greyhound Girl" (B-side to "Let My Love Open the Door" EP in Europe)
  3. "Let My Love Open the Door" (Alternative Mix from the 1996 UK CD Single)

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

AlbumBillboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1980 Pop Albums 5

Singles – Billboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
1980 "Let My Love Open The Door" Pop Singles 9
1980 "Rough Boys" Pop Singles 89
1980 "A Little Is Enough" Pop Singles 72
1980 "Keep on Working" Pop Singles

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ "Pete Townshend: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert (10 August 1993). "CG: Peter Townshend". Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Starr, Red. "Pete Townshend: Empty Glass". Smash Hits (May 1–14 1980): 29. 
  5. ^ http://www.popmatters.com/review/pete-townshend-empty-glass/
  6. ^ "Album Cover Art – Pete Townshend – Empty Glass". Tralfaz-archives.com. Retrieved 16 October 2012.