Glen Campbell

Essential, Vol. 1

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The first serious attempt to explore the full range of Glen Campbell's legacy on Capitol Records might have worked better in a more coherent and cohesive three- (or four-) CD box than in this strangely disorganized series of three separate CDs. Volume one of the Essential series sets the tone for all three CDs, beautiful remasterings of the hits, some excellent lesser-selling singles and outstanding album tracks, and a handful of unreleased cuts that are, by themselves, worth the price of the disc. There are relatively few major hits here, and one of them, "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," is represented paired with "I Say a Little Prayer for You" in a fine 1971 duet with Anne Murray, but that's what should have made this such a priceless collection -- it works the breadth and depth of Campbell's catalog, going all the way back to 1962, and encompasses tracks that showcase both his vocal and instrumental prowess. Thus, in between glowing remasterings of his singles and some notable album tracks covering 17 years of work, you get a brilliant acoustic instrumental workout, "Twelve Blues," showing off Campbell's prodigious guitar skills and his too-little-explored appreciation of the blues, and a rendition of "I Walk the Line" from 1967, in which he handles the song Sinatra-style (and most effectively, one might add); his previously unissued live 1975 rendition of "My Way"; and his poignant, gently swinging version of "Blue Sky Shining," done with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra in 1979. Casual listeners will be surprised by Campbell's range as a singer, while serious fans will simply want to immerse themselves in the contents from the opening note. The only flaw, and it is a big one with this series, is the producers' failure to put the music together in any rational chronological order -- a box set could have done it, but the jumping around, from decade to decade and between hits and unissued tracks, on each disc and between the three discs in this series will make some listeners dizzy just trying to decide whether or not to buy each.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:41
2 2:50
3 2:45
4 2:30
5 3:03
6 2:18
7 2:34
8 2:34
9 2:04
10 2:40
11 1:59
12 2:31
13 2:26
feat: Anne Murray
15 4:05
16 2:52
17 2:52
18 3:07
19 4:34
20 4:32
21 2:50
22 3:15
23 3:09
blue highlight denotes track pick