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Artist: Looking Glass (1972)
Album: Looking Glass (Epic)
For a one-hit wonder, Looking Glass scored a huge one. Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) was tremendously popular and is still a soft radio classic, not to mention a staple of Karaoke. It was, in fact, so big that it caused Barry Manilow to rename his song Brandy, to Mandy, in order to avoid confusion with the Looking Glass hit. This was two years after Brandy was released. If the band had stuck with the original name, Manilow needn’t have bothered.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers play a popular cover version of Brandy in concert.
According to Elliot Lurie, leader of Looking Glass, the song was named after a high-school sweetheart of his named Randy, but the name just didn’t sing as well as Brandy. Since the girl in the song served up whiskey to sailors at a bar, the name Brandy seems a bit spot-on, but I certainly would sound better in the song than Randy (no, Brandy is not a diminutive form of Brandon). The name Brandy started becoming popular for girls at around the same time the song took off, but we wouldn’t want to confuse correlation with causation. There are a lot of popular names with a Br- sound at that time.
It would be hard to say what makes Brandy such an enduring classic. It has a sort of blues and jazz sound but sits comfortably in the “Top 40” category. Perhaps, though, it’s Elliot Lurie’s vocals. When I first heard them (I mean really listened to them), I thought they sounded strange and lazy. Yet, as I listened on, they managed to prove me wrong. His vocals are laid-back with a strange combination of huskiness and softness. The more I listened the more I grew to love his voice. The song itself has often been called a sea-shanty by writers who think that any song about seaside towns and sailors is a sea-shanty. They are referring to the subject matter of the song rather than the structure.
Is Looking Glass Really a One-Hit Wonder?
This song is an example, also, of something we run into when we talk about “one hit wonders” or “that one big hit.” This wasn’t the only song Looking Glass ever had on the charts. Their song Jimmy Loves MaryAnee went to number 33 on the Billboard charts the very next year. So, sure, it was a Top 40 hit at the time. But have you ever heard of it? Does anybody remember it?
And, Brandy zoomed up the charts, debuting at 68 June 17, 1972, and then jumping to 45 the next week, then to 27, 12, 5, 4, 2 and finally number one in the week of August 26, 1972. It then managed to stay in the top 10 for another three weeks, spending 16 weeks total on the charts. Jimmy Loves MaryAnne only managed two weeks at 33 in the top 40 and then dropped quickly down the rankings. It’s true, regardless, that Looking Glass doesn’t deserve to be called a one-hit wonder. It’s true as well, that many one-hit wonders are still around today making music in various ways.
Listen to Brandy by Looking Glass
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