|Studio album by|
|Released||21 April 1980|
|Studio||Eel Pie Studios and A.I.R. Studios, London, UK|
|Genre||Rock, new wave|
|Pete Townshend chronology|
|Singles from Empty Glass|
|Christgau's Record Guide||B−|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
The album deals with issues that Townshend was struggling with at the time, including alcoholism, drug abuse, marital problems and deceased friends, particularly Keith Moon, the Who's former drummer, who died in 1978. Empty Glass also contained the devotional love song, "Let My Love Open the Door", which became a Top 10 hit in the US, and the modestly successful singles "Rough Boys" and "A Little Is Enough".
The album was rated No. 57 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest of the 1980s. A Gibson poll rated it at No. 5 among "the greatest albums released by an artist who was previously in a successful band".
In an interview with Murray Lerner on the film The Who: Live at the Isle of Wight, Townshend explained the album's title:
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 Meher Baba, an Indian spiritual master who claimed he was an Avatar — God in human form.
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 project and his band. As a result, Empty Glass was considered superior to the Who's subsequent 1981 album Face Dances, with critics calling it a Who album that never was.
The Who's lead singer 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 "Rough Boys" was the one song Daltrey would have wanted clarified (in terms of the song's homoerotic subtext) and toned down were he to sing it, thus defeating its message, while "Empty Glass" had been recorded during sessions for Who Are You in 1978; a version featuring Keith Moon on drums and John Entwistle on bass appeared on the 1996 reissue of that album. This version is notable for suicidal undertones in the lyrics that were changed for Empty Glass: the line "Killing each other, then we jump off the ledge" became "Killing each other by driving a wedge".
The album was produced by Chris Thomas, whose credits included Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon and the Pretenders' debut album. "For a long time," Townshend said, "I wanted to work with Todd Rundgren, and I asked him to produce my solo album which he agreed to do. And then I suddenly realised it probably wasn’t a good idea because we’re so alike in a lot of ways. I would like to work with him. I think he’s a better guitar player than me and a better singer but I think what really worried me about the prospect of him producing my solo album was that I’m influenced by him enough as it is. Do you understand? And I like the way I’m influenced by him at the moment."
The sleeve 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.
All tracks are written by Pete Townshend.
|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|
|10.||"I'm Gonna Get Ya"||6:25|
|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.||"I'm Gonna Get Ya" (Work in progress long version)||11:24|
|"Greyhound Girl"||"Let My Love Open the Door"||song originally written for Lifehouse|
Credits are adapted from the Empty Glass liner notes.
- Pete Townshend – vocals; guitars; synthesizers
- John "Rabbit" Bundrick – "straight" keyboards
- Tony Butler – bass guitar (tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10)
- Simon Phillips – drums (tracks 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10)
- James Asher – drums (tracks 5, 6)
- Kenney Jones – drums (track 1)
- Mark Brzezicki – drums (track 8)
- Peter Hope-Evans – harmonica on (track 7)
- Chris Thomas – producer
- Bill Price – engineer
- Steve Nye – additional engineer
- Ted Jensen – mastering engineer
- Raphael Rudd – brass arrangements on "Rough Boys"
- Bob Carlos Clarke – sleeve design
- Richard Evans – graphics
|Australia (Kent Music Report)||28|
|New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)||21|
|Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)||40|
|UK Albums (OCC)||11|
|US Billboard 200||5|
|USA||RIAA||1996||Platinum (+ 1,000,000)|
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The songs are so hard and strong they made the band jealous and Townshend's singing lets rip the harsh energy Roger Daltrey gave voice to in The Who.
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