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.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine