A seven-year span separates the Crystal Mansion's 1972 Motown release called Crystal Mansion and this superior 1979 recording on 20th Century with a similar title (The Crystal Mansion, also known as Tickets). Brooks Arthur, engineer on the previous outing, graduates to producer here, and the sophisticated adult contemporary sound he gave to Carole Bayer Sager's three albums from this period brings a forgotten band to life. "Lonely, Faraway, Missing You" is a snappy opener, more appealing than Ambrosia, Player, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section, but falling short of the brilliant pop of Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds. However, that's the market this band reached out to, not gritty enough to be Rare Earth and too hard to appeal to the fans of Debby Boone, who sings on the wonderful "Gather My Children." The Crystal Mansion were a more than competent pop band that got lost in the rock & roll shuffle. "Place in Space" is another stellar track -- FM adult contemporary, if you will. The problem is that there wasn't a format for solid adult pop music that didn't make it to Top 40 prior to the invention of AAA radio. Tom Scott's wonderful sax solos and heavy keyboards from Mike Boddicker and Steve Porcaro (for a band that boasts three keyboard players to begin with: David White, Sal Rota, and Johnny Caswell) fail to make this great ethereal song "hip" enough for the alternative side of the dial. The cover of "Talk to Me (Talk to Me)," a 1963 hit for Sunny & the Sunglows, was a smart move. It works, and is the closest thing to a possible single here. David White's "Lookin' for a Way to Say Goodbye" is very effective, a classy contribution that Len Barry's Ups and Downs album absolutely needed from David White Tricker when he worked on that. Arthur does a commendable job of bringing the best out of this group -- "I Hear Music" resonates with elegant, borderline blue-eyed soul and "Incomplete Love Song" fades with Bud Shank's smart sax, but 20th Century was a no man's land in the '70s, releasing superior product with very little direction. "The Garden of Love" is adult bubblegum. The Crystal Mansion end up sounding like the Partridge Family all grown up. To be fair, if the Cowsills had gone in this direction, they could have expanded their fan base. For a group with one minor hit under its belt and more than a few famous friends, breaking a solid song like "Fiona" was nearly impossible. Now if Elton John had covered it, that would be a different kettle of fish. They were strangers in a strange land who recorded this dynamic and worthwhile effort.
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AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione