Tennessee Ernie Ford

Ernie Sings & Glen Picks

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In a different reality, a good alternate title for this jewel of a disc might have been "Tennessee Ernie Ford and Glen Campbell Unplugged." The idea behind it was a natural, teaming two of Capitol Records' biggest-selling country artists together. This album was actually a distant follow-up to a 1965 recording by Ford entitled Country Hits...Feelin' Blue, which had featured the singer in a back-to-basics musical setting. At the time, in 1975, Ford was 19 years from his last big hit, while Campbell was still near the top of his commercial form, having outsold the Beatles as recently as the end of the 1960s. There isn't a weak track here, as Ford, backed by Campbell on acoustic guitar and bassist Chuck Domonico, renews his approach to old standards like "Trouble in Mind" and covers songs associated with Dottie West ("Here Comes My Baby"), Patsy Cline ("She Called Me Baby"), and classics like Floyd Tillman's "I Gotta Have My Baby Back." There are only 30 minutes of music here, but the album is one of the high points of Ford's career; cut loose in a simple, all-acoustic setting, Ford's elegant baritone has tremendous expressive power, which it brings completely to the fore, and Campbell's playing is extraordinarily sensitive and articulate, even for him. His playing on the break of "I Gotta Have My Baby Back" is one of the best solos of his career, and is matched by Ford's magnificent, towering-yet-despairing vocal. If you only own one album by either Ford or Campbell, this should be the one.

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