Staff Picks: Music

Campbell on my Mind

When a CD title asks you to “meet” an artist you’ve known for three or four decades (unless it's a reissue or a tribute to Meet the Beatles), you can guess the artist is getting an artistic makeover, upping their “hip" quotient, attracting new listeners and allowing old fans to hear the performer with fresh ears.

In a sense, that’s what’s happening on Meet Glen Campbell, the latest release by the veteran country/pop star and ace guitarist (as a session musician in the early ‘60’s, he was reportedly earning up to 10 grand a week). Scanning the track listing – here’s a Lou Reed Velvets cover, there’s a Foo Fighters hit – one might think the recording is a stripped-down affair, akin to Johnny Cash’s American Recordings series, revealing the raw essence of an artist thought to be past their prime.

It’s the songs, though, that get the makeovers. Awash in orchestral arrangements, the new productions recall the Jimmy Webb-penned evergreens  (“By the Time I Get to Phoenix”“Wichita Lineman”) that made Campbell a star in the late '60's. Being mostly ballads, the songs aren’t being stretched beyond recognition (in some cases, as with the cover of U2’s “All I Want is You”, the string settings are familiar), but once you hear Campbell’s voice, unravaged by time, delivering those songs in the florid baroque pop style that held its own against the psychedelic rock revolution (what sounds more dated now?), you may forget the originals exist, or weren’t written with Campbell in mind.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard of Billie Joe Armstrong or Paul Westerberg – if you’ve been a fan of Glen Campbell, this is the return to form you’ve been waiting for (or never expected). If you really don’t know Glen Campbell… well, this is as good a chance to meet him as any.

Music

Meet Glen Campbell
EMM413221C
KarlK_1

Comments

Your blog prompted me to give old Glen a listen. I did enjoy this cd, particularly his version of "Good Riddance." (Time of Your Life) His voice is still strong and and I think I like the older, more mellow sound better than his younger voice. Thanks for highlighting something I probably wouldn't have picked up otherwise.
I was obsessed with "Rhinestone Cowboy" as a five year old, singing to myself while on the backyard swing set and was surprised later to find out that Glen, who in the 70's had fashioned himself something of a country troubadour, had his start on the West coast, touring with the Beach Boys and being involved as a sessions player on Phil Spector recordings.