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Rock - Released November 16, 2018 | Glen Campbell - Demo PS

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Country boy Glen Campbell is often described as a singer who is "famous for his taste for variety". That’s not to say that his country pop from the late ‘70s is meaningless and simple. Quite the contrary! Tracks such as Southern Nights, Rhinestone Cowboy and Wichita Lineman have become classics because they contained all the ingredients needed to make a hit at that time. But Campbell's career is much richer and more complex. It’s full of details that make him a legend of American music. An experienced guitarist, singer, composer, songwriter and even TV host, he balanced his career between the spotlight and the less exposed life in the studio. It must be said that there were plenty of studio teams that revolutionized music in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and Campbell was an integral part of one of the greatest, if not THE greatest: The Wrecking Crew (a.k.a. The Clique or The Phil Spector Wall of Sound). In 1962, thanks to Jimmy Bowen, he joined this ensemble of musicians from the West Coast and met bassist Carol Kaye, guitarist Tommy Tedesco, drummer Hal Blain as well as Frank Sinatra, Rick Nelson and most importantly... The King! Sings For The King is a completely new posthumous record. These 18 recently discovered recordings, which reflect a sort of intimate correspondence between Campbell and Presley, were produced by the country boy for his friend between 1964 and 1968. It was a surprise gift that was never meant for our ears... Glen Campbell had two advantages. The first was that he could match Elvis’ tone and delivery, and the second was that he had been close to the star since 1956. It was an effective way to present Sid Wayne and Ben Weisman's new compositions to The King. It’s a record that couldn’t have opened in any other way than with this legendary duo on We Call On Him, where the harmony between the two men is obvious. It’s ballad on the piano that combines these two crooning voices on a melancholic tune that’s carried by subtle choirs. It’s a very emotional moment. This is followed by 17 tracks performed by Glen, who displays his imitation skills. From Easy Come, Easy Go and Spinout to I'll Be Back and I Got Love, his seventeen performances were all validated by The King. He’s a figure in the shadows who certainly contributed to the career of one of the greatest musicians of all time. However, on this record, it’s Campbell who is in the spotlight and it feels great! © Clara Bismuth/Qobuz
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Country - Released November 1, 1968 | Capitol Nashville

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Country - Released January 1, 2001 | Capitol Nashville

This LP, a certified double-platinum album, captures Campbell's appeal at his most mainstream, mixing midtempo country-pop, spiced by a smooth if unambitious cover of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" and the prettiest version of Tim Hardin's "Reason to Believe" ever done. The latter two make the album hipper than Campbell himself seemed to most of us at the time. On the other hand, there's ample romantic pop here, including his heartfelt, string-laden performance of the McKuen/Brel "If You Go Away" and "Words." Right there at the center of Campbell's appeal is the still-beautiful title track (for which he had composer Jimmy Webb's organ hauled to the studio to re-create its exact sound from the demo) and "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife," alongside midtempo country-pop like Billy Ed Wheeler's sprightly "Ann" and Campbell's own "Fate of Man." Sonny Curtis' "The Straight Life" is closer in spirit to the Mary Tyler Moore theme song (still a year or so away) than to the work of an ex-Buddy Holly compadre, and Sonny Bono's singsongy divorce ode, "You Better Sit Down Kids," did little to enhance the future congressman's musical credibility. He saves the best for last" "That's Not Home," the most heartfelt song here. The production is excellent throughout, if a little overly reliant on strings. ~ Bruce Eder
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Country - Released January 1, 2011 | Capitol Nashville

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Country - Released January 1, 2001 | Capitol Nashville

The best of Campbell's early albums, and also his first real commercial success. Ironically, the title track (written by John Hartford) which started Campbell on the road to stardom, was never intended for release -- he had submitted it as a demo, and Capitol issued it, to everybody's profit. Campbell's cover of "Catch the Wind" is one of the finest covers of a Donovan song ever done, stripping away any hint of the composer's sub-Dylan pretensions and bringing out the song's genuine beauty -- it's folk-pop, in the same manner that Peter, Paul and Mary's cover of Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" was, but excellent folk-pop. This is Campbell's folksiest album, albeit with string orchestra accompaniment, as he covers "Bowling Green," "Mary in the Morning," and the title tune, and you get to hear him do a solo guitar and voice number, his own "Just Another Man." Even the most overproduced stuff here, "You're My World" and Rod McKuen's "The World I Used to Know," come off well, and Campbell is in excellent voice throughout, most especially on a wonderfully restrained and beautiful rendition of Roy Orbison's "Crying." Gentle On My Mind was reissued in August of 2001 as part of Capitol-Nashville's "Cornerstones" series, in an upgraded, remastered edition with crisper sound than the 1996 Capitol CD. ~ Bruce Eder
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Country - Released January 1, 1977 | Capitol Records

Following two excellent records made with producers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, Glen Campbell turned to Gary Klein for 1977's Southern Nights, a record that retains some of the feel of Rhinestone Cowboy and Bloodline but is simultaneously too streamlined and diffuse, never developing the unified sound of either of its predecessors. That hardly means it's a bad album, of course; but it does mean that it's a record of moments, individual bright spots that stand alone and never quite gel into something cohesive. Part of the problem is that the best moments have different, not necessarily complimentary, moods. There are the two big singles, Allen Toussaint's "Southern Nights" and Neil Diamond's "Sunflower," both sharing a cheerful catchiness and a bright, colorful feel. Then, there is a pair of songs from Jimmy Webb, "This Is Sarah's Song" and "Early Morning Song." While not on the level of the fine Reunion, they both offer further proof that Campbell is Webb's best interpreter. Along with a good, albeit slightly maudlin, reading of Brian Wilson's "God Only Knows," the other highlights are two songs from Michael Smotherman, a singer/songwriter who would be given a greater showcase on Campbell's next effort, Basic. Although now a forgotten songwriter, Smotherman was a solid tunesmith, firmly within the '70s sensitive singer/songwriter tradition, and his songs bring out the best in Campbell. The rest of the record -- "Guide Me," "Let Go," "How High Did We Go" -- are also from forgotten writers, and they're entirely too generic soft rock, emphasizing that Smotherman had some true skills (something that Basic confirmed). So Southern Nights is a bit of a mixed bag, but those three separate sets of highlights are excellent and help elevate the record to one of Campbell's better ones, no matter how flawed it ultimately is. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 1, 2001 | Capitol Nashville

It doesn't really matter if Glen Campbell was Jimmy Webb's best interpreter or if Webb gave Campbell his best songs -- in other words, it doesn't matter who helped the other more -- because it doesn't change the essential fact that the duo fit each other so naturally. Webb's intricate, idiosyncratic compositions sounded warm and accessible in Campbell's hands, while the songs revealed Campbell's musical range and ambition. Other singers had big hits with Webb's songs and Campbell made tremendous music with other people's songs, but there was something special about their collaboration that was evident on their big hits of the '60s: "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman," "Galveston," "Where's the Playground, Suzie?." These songs provided the background for Reunion, the 1974 album where Campbell and Webb reunited for a set of Webb songs. Well, that's not exactly accurate, since Webb never produced or arranged the hits Campbell had in the '60s, and the record isn't entirely written by Webb, since it features Susan Webb's "About the Ocean" and Lowell George's "Roll Um Easy" (here retitled "Roll Me Easy"). So, this marks the first time that Webb arranged a full album of Campbell's, along with providing the majority of the songs, a move that in many ways made this closer to a Jimmy Webb record than a Glen Campbell LP. Certainly, it favored Webb's idiosyncrasies, particularly his elliptical songs with winding melodies and no straightforward songs. Not a song here outside of "Roll Me Easy" announces itself as a potential single (which very well may be why this tremendous song was added to the play list, particularly as the first single, since it might be the easiest way into the record for most listeners). Since most of the songs share a similar easy mid-tempo pace and have similar lushly interwoven arrangements, it's not necessarily the most accessible of Campbell's records; it doesn't set out to alienate, it's just that Webb's songs and arrangements call for close listening, which is precisely why it's an album beloved by Campbell/Webb connoisseurs. So, it's not entirely surprising that the record didn't make much of an impression, certainly nothing close to their big hits of the '60s, but rather that it's become a cult item, with some fans regarding it among Campbell's best work. And, in many ways, they're right. Reunion has a quiet power that grows with repeated listenings since it does indeed showcase Webb at his best as songwriter/arranger and Campbell as an interpretive singer. But this is very much a record for the dedicated, those that are already convinced of the strengths of both men, because it reveals its gifts slowly, and even when they're out in the open, the songs are so delicately, if exquisitely, crafted they're best appreciated by listeners with an eye for detail. Those listeners will surely find Reunion among Campbell's best work, and it is certainly among his most consistent and ambitious records, but it's just a little too reserved to play to an audience outside of the already converted. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 1, 2006 | Capitol Nashville

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Country - Released January 1, 2009 | Capitol Nashville

Sometimes it seems like not a year passes without a new Glen Campbell hits collection, and the simply titled Greatest Hits -- a title that has been used in some iteration at least ten times since 1971, probably more -- is the 2009 installment in this plan. The impetus for this Greatest Hits is the growth in digital releases (the collection issued both on CD and digitally), as well as the desire to capitalize on his fine 2008 comeback, Meet Glen Campbell, represented here by readings of the Foo Fighters' "Times Like These" and Jackson Browne's "These Days," which nicely cap a collection of basics, 14 songs that appear on pretty much any other Campbell collection released in the past four decades or so. As an introduction, it's clean and lean, offering all of the big hits ("Rhinestone Cowboy," "Wichita Lineman," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," etc.), which will appeal to new listeners perhaps hooked by Meet Glen Campbell -- and conversely, old fans may be enticed by the two new cuts. However, this is nothing more than basics: there are compilations that are more comprehensive and interesting out there for those who are interested -- but for those who just want the hits, this has them. [Greatest Hits was included as a bonus disc in the two-CD edition of Campbell's final album, Adiós, released in 2017.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released August 30, 2011 | Surfdog Records

Booklet
Few artists get the luxury of crafting their final album as a conscious farewell, but Glen Campbell isn’t just any artist. Campbell is a titan with a legacy that begins before he started to record solo albums, so if anyone deserves to craft a career-capping final record it is he, even if this opportunity is bittersweet, tainted by the knowledge that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s sometime during its recording. His disease does hang over Ghost on the Canvas, its sadness surfacing on the instrumental interstitials written by Roger Manning, but this album bears none of the ghoulish fetishization of death that haunts Rick Rubin’s latter-day productions of Johnny Cash. No, producer Julian Raymond has crafted Ghost on the Canvas as a specific sequel to the very good 2008 Meet Glen Campbell, which consciously re-created Campbell’s golden decade of 1967-1977 through newly written songs and covers of modern rockers. Raymond uses the same formula here, finding tunes by Manning, Paul Westerberg (the title track), Jakob Dylan (“Nothing But the Whole Wide World”), Robert Pollard (“Hold on Hope”), and Teddy Thompson (“In My Arms”), then crafting sturdy originals with Campbell, all evoking such luxuriant dramatic classics as “Wichita Lineman” without succumbing under self-conscious weight. It’s a delicate trick that, apart from those too elegiac instrumentals, never once seems forced, a testament to Raymond’s skills as a producer and Campbell’s as a musician and singer. Perhaps Ghost on the Canvas doesn’t revisit every high in Campbell’s history, but it pays honor to his legacy and feels like an appropriate and subtly moving farewell. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 1, 1978 | Capitol Nashville

There was a brief vogue for recording guitar-oriented instrumentals of folk songs for the pop and rock market just around the time the early-'60s folk boom started to taper off. Billy Strange's Twelve String Guitar was one of them, and so was The Astounding 12-String Guitar of Glen Campbell. And like that Strange LP, this was not so much a folk-rock precursor as an appropriation of folk melodies for Hollywood studio sessions that happened to use some bass and drums in addition to the guitar. If nothing else, this album is notable evidence of Campbell's considerable instrumental skills, which have generally been overlooked since his rise as a pop vocal star. But these readings of tunes like "Puff (The Magic Dragon)," "Blowin' in the Wind," "Green, Green," and "This Land Is Your Land" are rather perfunctory, as if they were laid down in an hour or two between the players' other session commitments (and it would be no surprise to learn that was the case). Campbell does take one vocal, on Bob Dylan's "Walkin' Down the Line" (which Dylan had yet to release at that point), which is probably the highlight of the album. He also wrote a couple of serviceable instrumental showcases for his 12-string, "12-String Special" and "Bull Durham." Notable session players on the record include drummers Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer, banjoist Roy Clark (who wrote one of the tracks, "Lonesome Twelve"), and Chip Douglas (later to produce the Monkees); noted pop and rock producer Nick Venet co-produced. Make sure you check the disc itself before you buy it, as a reissued version, unfortunately, deleted a couple of the dozen tracks from the already-short running time; those were "Wimoweh" and "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" (aka the theme to The Beverly Hillbillies). ~ Richie Unterberger

World - Released December 31, 2000 | Arion

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Country - Released January 1, 1977 | Capitol Nashville

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Country - Released January 1, 2001 | Capitol Nashville

On Glen Campbell's albums -- By the Time I Get to Phoenix and Wichita Lineman -- the Jimmy Webb-authored title cuts tended to dominate the LP tracks somewhat; good as the album tracks were, they usually weren't quite up to the standard achieved by the AM-aimed title songs. On Galveston, Campbell and producer Al DeLory overcame that problem -- the Jimmy Webb title tune is fine, to be sure, but this time out, Campbell and DeLory no longer felt the need for the singer to cover contemporary rock and soul hits like "Homeward Bound" and "Dock of the Bay," which he pulled off, but not as well as some other songs he might've sung on those earlier albums. On Galveston, he stuck closer to country with some pop embellishments and found a better fit. The result is a smooth, lively, sentimental, and occasionally even exciting album. Jimmy Webb's "Where's the Playground Susie" was the other hit off this album, but no one needed to think of skipping to it, around such heartfelt Campbell performances as "Gotta Have Tenderness" or "Time"; "Friends," built around the melody to "Danny Boy," may come dangerously close to sinking in mawkishness, but Campbell compensates for it with another co-authored effort, "If This Is Love," a stunning guitar workout with a haunting melody and sincere urgency in his singing; he also shows off his guitar prowess (and the harder side of his voice) on "Oh What a Woman," and to some extent on "Every Time I Itch I Wind up Scratching You." And he wraps himself very neatly around the New Christy Minstrels' number, "Today," singing it with a directness and honesty that makes one forget the original. ~ Bruce Eder
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Country - Released January 1, 1970 | Capitol Nashville

A spin-off of the TV show of the same name, this album is a nice representation of what Campbell was about at the time. In addition to the hit on the album (the cover of Conway Twitty's "It's Only Make Believe"), he dips into the Jimmy Webb songbook for two of the tracks. ~ Jim Worbois
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Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | Capitol Nashville

Booklet
No artist waits 40 years to introduce himself, so the title of Glen Campbell's 2008 album, Meet Glen Campbell, can be taken with a grain of salt -- unless it's seen as a way to introduce Campbell to a new, younger audience, which certainly seems to be the intention of this record, as it finds the countrypolitan crooner abandoning the bland professional songwriters he's relied upon in the '80s and '90s and turning to newer rock & rollers. That these younger rock & rollers include Tom Petty and Jackson Browne should give some indication that this isn't quite as daring a move as it may initially seem, even if Campbell does cover the Replacements here, but daring isn't the name of the game on Meet Glen Campbell and thankfully neither is irony, as this never succumbs to the cringing camp of Pat Boone singing metal. Thanks to producers Julian Raymond and Howard Willing -- who enlist the help of plenty of modern pop thoroughbreds, including Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. and Jason Falkner of Jellyfish and Cheap Trick's Robin Zander -- Meet Glen Campbell evokes the soft, warm haze of his classic '60s and '70s, when he turned Jimmy Webb's eccentricities into pop standards. Although they do make slight concessions to modernity on the rhythm tracks of Travis' "Sing" and Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" (also tellingly the two weakest songs on this brief album), Raymond and Willing use "Wichita Lineman" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" as their touchstones, picking songs that lend themselves to evocative melodrama, which generally means rich, elegiac ballads from Paul Westerberg's "Sadly Beautiful" and U2's "All I Want Is You" to Jackson Browne's "These Days," a song so perfectly suited for Campbell's voice it's a wonder that it never popped up on one of his LPs in the early '70s. Then again, Meet Glen Campbell is filled with small wonders, including how the Velvet Underground's "Jesus" is given a delicate acoustic treatment and how the Foo Fighters' "Times Like These" bears an arrangement that consciously echoes "Galveston" and is all the better for it. This reverence for Campbell's greatest work is what grounds Meet Glen Campbell, as it shows a deep understanding of what made those recordings work as pop records as well as an understanding of what a terrific interpretive singer Campbell is at his peak. For too long, Glen Campbell has been wandering away from these strengths, singing anonymous songs in sterile settings, but here he has the right production and an exceptional set of songs, all adding up an album that is alluringly out of time, caught somewhere between the '60s and the '90s, illustrating how enduring Campbell's sound really is. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 1, 1970 | Capitol Nashville

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Country - Released January 1, 1968 | Capitol Nashville

A New Place in the Sun may be Glen Campbell’s rockiest record of the late ‘60s. Haphazardly skipping between show tunes, misguided covers of pop written by Paul Revere & the Raiders’ Mark Lindsay, MOR schmaltz, and faithful reproductions of Merle Haggard, this has Campbell offering a little bit of something for everyone but winding up appealing to no one in particular -- so much so that this is one of the few of his late-‘60s LPs to lack a hit single. Which isn’t to say that the album is devoid of pleasure -- a cover of Haggard’s “Legend of Bonnie & Clyde” reconnects Campbell to his bluegrass beginnings, Harlan Howard’s “She Called Me Baby” has a soulful punch reminiscent of Joe South -- but it takes some serious excavating to unearth these modest gems. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released July 1, 1975 | Capitol Nashville

Early on in Rhinestone Cowboy, Glen Campbell sings that he's making his "comeback," a sentiment that can't help but seem to carry an autobiographical heft. While it is true that he was hardly off the charts in the early '70s, the quality of his music was a little inconsistent; the singles were often good, but his albums were burdened with schlock and erratic in quality. He started to break free with a pair of 1974 albums, Houston (I'm Comin' to See You) and the Jimmy Webb tribute Reunion, but it wasn't until 1975's Rhinestone Cowboy that he seemed in full control of his talent, delivering a record that stands proudly next to his '60s peaks. Much credit is due to the presence of producers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, who help focus Campbell through their own tunes, their expert selection of songs, and their shimmering, high-gloss production that dazzles on the surface but also delivers considerable thematic and musical substance. Throughout the record, there are allusions to Campbell being a country boy stranded in the big city, where he's successful but emotionally adrift. This is most evident on the album's two big hits, "Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)" and "Rhinestone Cowboy" itself, but his yearning is underpinned by sad songs like "I'd Build a Bridge," the despairing "We're Over," and a heartbreaking version of Randy Newman's "Marie." Among this, a cheerful cover of the Temptations' "My Girl" seems a little out of place, but this is the only outright misstep in an otherwise masterful album that manages to sound soothing even when it's sad. Even with its undercurrents of melancholy, Rhinestone Cowboy sounds and feels like a triumph because of the assured, layered lushness of the Lambert/Potter production and Campbell's fine performances. He sounds engaged by the material, bringing out nuances within the songs, and it's positively a joy to hear after several years of wandering. [A Deluxe 40th Anniversary edition of Rhinestone Cowboy, which included remixes and bonus tracks, was issued in 2015.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 1, 1968 | Capitol Nashville

Glen Campbell is richly brought into light here with a talented backup group and the enchanting power of a full string orchestra. His record, Hey Little One, was inspired with nine covers and one original, and though not a compelling work, his vocal style and his arrangements overshadow the record's list of covers. Enchanting in presence, Campbell sings with a sizzling flair for the romantic. Songs covered for the record include melodies about lost loves, break ups and getting back together. The title track, written originally by Dorsey Burnette and Barry De Vorzon, is a beautiful melody of solitude, loneliness, and one's initial experience of being far from home. "The Elusive Butterfly," a haunting and joyful statement of love written by Bob Lind, is played with great compassion. Campbell isn't afraid to explore the country genre as well, with a heartwarming rendition of John D. Loudermilk's "Break My Mind." He pays homage to the renowned poet Bob Dylan with his version of "I Don't Believe You." Thankfully, the record's form of originality is not lost, due to Campbell's original composition, "Turn Around and Look at Me," a charming and romantic tune later covered by the Beach Boys. The song was a remake of hit 1961 hit, and is presented here with full of emotion and endearing sentimental quality. It, like many of the tunes presented in this collection, radiates with a distinctive style Campbell can sincerely call his own. The orchestral arrangements are still necessary to carry the record, and they do so with a chilling degree of dynamics. ~ Shawn Haney

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