Meet Glen Campbell CD
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Digital Booklet: Meet Glen Campbell
Digital Booklet: Meet Glen Campbell
The concept behind Meet Glen Campbell is so obvious it's a surprise that no one had thought of doing it before. Once Brian Wilson's touring replacement in the Beach Boys, then a megastar with his country inflected orchestral pop productions in the late sixties and early seventies, Glen Campbell has seen it all. Now in his seventies, his star has faded since his collaborations with young songwriter Jimmy Webb ruled the charts, but he remains a fine singer and a deft guitarist still. Taking ten recent songs by the likes of Tom Petty, Travis, Foo Fighters and even Green Day, and dressing them up in the expansive arrangements he's still remembered for effectively makes them his own property. Who knew that Travis's once torpid "Sing" needed only some Campbell magic to revive it? Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" is a perfect choice, its country roots always unconcealed, while the genesis of U2's "All I Want Is You" in the Stooges "No Fun" is made obvious even as Campbell's heartfelt version challenges Bono for sincerity. The closer, a stately version of John Lennon's posthumously released "Grow Old With Me", will be soundtracking wedding ceremonies for decades to come. Unlikely though it sounds, Meet Glen Campbell has to be count amongst the year's most successful comebacks. --Steve Jelbert
Country artists covering contemporary songs is nothing new, but ever since Johnny Cash made the American Recordings series, the way those covers are judged has changed. Every song is held up to the brilliance of the Man In Black, and if they don't meet the standard, they're left to swing miserably in the wind. It's an unenviable burden to bear for any artist, and one that even the great Glen Campbell can't escape. Understandably, he falls short of the benchmark, but even if you disregard the Cash effect, Meet Glen Campbell is hopeless.
The album's problems are many, not least Campbell's singing style. He comes from a time and a tradition where annunciation and clarity are the key, but the songs he has chosen - the Foo Fighters' rollicking Times Like These or U2's All I Want Is You - were never written to ring clearly. They are songs driven by feeling, whose words are meant to blister with passion, and in his steady approach, Campbell saps them of emotion and renders them pedestrian.
He's not helped by his choices. Faced with the entire history of music to choose from, it's telling that Campbell decided to include two songs from Tom Petty and neither of them are the plodding rocker's only moment of genius, Free Fallin'. They aren't the only bad decisions. The album opens with Travis' Sing, a nadir in the Scottish band's career of tedium, and closes with John Lennon's most nauseating, sentimental and desperately dull moment, Grow Old With Me. It's as if Glen wanted to underline his lack of adventure by bookending his album with utter dreariness.
Above all, though, the glaring mistake of Meet Glen Campbell is the fact that he fails to do the one thing that makes Cash's American Recordings so special - he never stamps his mark on the songs. And this from the man who played with La's top session band, 'The Wrecking Crew', stood in for Brian Wilson on tour AND recorded Wichita Lineman.
Only his most unexpected choice, a double-beat, banjo-laden take on Green Day's Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life), comes close to making this exercise worthwhile. By stepping up the tempo and allowing a little freewheeling, he takes the introspective original and turns it into the meandering soundtrack of a mid-west road trip.
Unsurprisingly, it isn't enough to save the album. There's no doubt that the rhinestone cowboy's fans will lap this up, but this was an obvious attempt to 'do a Johnny' and snare himself a new audience - and in that aim, he has failed spectacularly. --Chris Long
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Top Customer Reviews
This is truly a masterpiece, I downloaded the album from iTunes after hearing "good riddance" on the radio, as soon as I played the first track my plans for the rest of the evening went out the window, I must have played it back to back 6 or 7 times. "All I want is you" is the perfect song to seduce the love of your life to.
Don't bother with the downloads, just by the CD (or vinyl), believe me this is one album you'll be playing over and over again.
One of the other reviewers suggested that this is the best album of 2008 - it is right up there as a contender. The ten tracks are covers of some very fine songs, some I knew and some I didn't. The thing about Glen Campbell is that, at 72, his singing is still as good as ever. I've always liked him, but have nothing more than a compilation which features one or two of his songs.
One reviewer has criticised the production, but I think it just adds to the quality of the tracks on the album. It starts off with 'Sing', written by Fran Healey of Travis who, I must admit, I find extremely boring. However, this is a great song and a wonderful version, beautiful in it's full (as opposed to paired-down) production - a great opening track, which got me involved in the album. From there, the music just flows and the other nine tracks include a couple by Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, Billy Joe Armstrong (of Green Day), Lou Reed and John Lennon. It leaves me wanting to play the album again and again.
Yes, Glen is singing as well as ever and there are some lovely backing singers here. Instrumentally, there is a superb set of musicians, including GC himself - a great guitarist - and the arrangements are perfect.
This is Glen Campbell and friends, putting together an album in the Glen Campbell mould, but brought up to date. The length of the album is only 33:46, which is short. I would have like a couple more tracks, but if you want to listen to it a couple of times, you've only spent just over an hour doing so.
So, a brilliant album, a fantastic return from Glen Campbell which, I for one, hope will be followed up in a similar vein - I would welcome a second album of covers, a la 'Meet Glen Campbell Again'.
Pitched somewhere in peoples' minds between Elton John and John Denver, Glen Campbell became largely irrelevant for the next three decades. Although he recorded during this period, with occasional success, the songs were generally bland, pointless and poorly produced. What he needed was a decent set of songs and a sympathetic producer who would recognise the strengths Glen possessed, someone who would recognise what made those earlier classics work.
Enter Julian Raymond and Howard Willing. Their arrangements and production are beautifully evocative of Campbell's greatest period. The Foo Fighter's Times Like These and Tom Petty's "Walls" echo Galveston with low tuned guitars and strings reminiscent of Al de Lory's original arrangements.
Using the Webb classics as a cornerstone the ten selections draw upon the literate work of John Lennon, Jackson Browne, Lou Reed, Tom Petty, Paul Westerberg, U2, The Foo's and Billie Joe. Raymond and Willing let Glen's voice take centre stage and with his sensitive interpretations and their evocative arrangements a hauntingly, beautiful album has emerged.
Simple really. Take a great singer, give him some great songs, mix in some sympathetic arrangements for strings and horns, throw in steel guitar, drums and keyboards and you have a classic record.
Highly recommended. Not a dud track to be heard.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
awesome quite simply his best stuff since 1969 ...awesome id give it 6 stars if I could ...the man is a genius ..Published 2 months ago by keith fotheringham
Never been a glen Campbell fan until this turned up. Sublime, ridiculous and generally life affirming. Everybody who's heard it loves it.Published 4 months ago by Hed M