Jimmy Webb

Land's End

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After extracting himself from his contract with Reprise Records, which had failed to break him as a recording artist despite his renown as a songwriter, Jimmy Webb made what must have seemed like the perfect moves to achieve his goal of achieving stardom as a performer. He signed to the hottest singer/songwriter-oriented record label in the music business, artist manager David Geffen's boutique company Asylum, which was just then scoring major successes with Bob Dylan (Planet Waves) and Joni Mitchell (Court and Spark). He then went to England, where he recorded with an all-star session band that included Mitchell, Ringo Starr, and members of Elton John's backup band (Davey Johnstone, Dee Murray, and Nigel Olsson). As was no doubt intended, Land's End, the resulting album, achieved the heavily produced, dense pop/rock sound of such contemporary efforts (and Top Ten hits) as Ringo, Paul McCartney & Wings' Band on the Run, and Carly Simon's Hotcakes. And it achieved a thematic consistency in that most of its songs were tales of romantic discord addressed from an "I" narrator to a "you" who was giving that narrator trouble. "I don't think you're human," Webb declared harshly in the opening song, "Ocean in His Eyes," "but I'll miss you anyway." And he proved that in the album's catchiest song (one later covered definitively by Art Garfunkel), "Crying in My Sleep," an account of dissolute behavior caused by loneliness. Not all the songs were that self-pitying, however. The key track was "Just This One Time," in which Webb made his case for having his love work out, accompanying his soulfully expressed plea with what sounded like a heavenly choir and loudly pounding drums. Unfortunately, just as Webb's early solo albums had seemed under-produced, Land's End seemed over-produced, sacrificing the emotional content of the songs to bombastic arrangements. As usual, there were some well-written songs, and Webb continued to gain confidence and skill as a singer. But he still hadn't found an identity as a solo artist, and his fourth album followed his first three into obscurity.

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