Anyone who only knows Glen Campbell's country-pop hits like "Wichita Lineman" will find his first album a revelation. Recorded in the midst of the college folk boom, Big Bluegrass Special paired off Campbell with Dale Fitzsimmons and Carl Tanberg, aka the Green River Boys, doing songs by Merle Travis, Cliffie Stone, Bob Nolan, and the Delmore Brothers. A long way from Campbell's Jimmy Webb-authored pop hits, this earthy bluegrass weaves in and out of folk, blues, and traditional country, and casts a wonderful spell in the process. The sound is more robust than the Louvin Brothers and has more raw energy than the Kingston Trio or the Shilos, and the songs are played and sung with an infectious enthusiasm, although their playing is no match for the Kentucky Colonels. Among the surprises is the bluesiest version of "One Hundred Miles Away from Home" ever done. Nick Venet's production gave the acoustic trio a very "hot" sound. True, this album only sold a fraction of Campbell's later '60s efforts, but it's still a pity, musically speaking, that it was never followed up.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder