Glen Campbell

Sings the Best of Jimmy Webb 1967-1992

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On paper, Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb wouldn't have seemed to be an especially good match as collaborators when Campbell started cutting Webb's tunes in 1968 -- Campbell was a gifted guitar picker with a solid rep as a studio musician but not much of a pedigree as a singer or frontman, while Webb was just making the leap from writing fluffy pop for the 5th Dimension to the more mature material that would make him one of the most celebrated songwriters of his generation. However, once Campbell cut Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," it was obvious that they were an inspired combination; Campbell's vocals were rich without being histrionic, pinpointing the emotions in Webb's lyrics and bringing them forward with subtle strength, and Webb's melodies seemed perfectly suited for the ebb and flow of Campbell's gentle Southern tenor. Together, Campbell and Webb crafted some of the finest and most emotionally insightful commercial pop music of the 1960s -- "Wichita Lineman," "Galveston," "Where's the Playground Susie?," "Just Another Piece of Paper" -- and while not all their later collaborations lived up to the standards of these early triumphs, this collection of 24 songs written by Webb and recorded by Campbell over the course of 25 years is an object lesson in songcraft as well as the art of the interpretive vocalist. In addition to the early Campbell/Webb singles, this disc includes the lion's share of the lovely 1974 album Reunion, which like those classic singles featured Webb as arranger and pianist as well as songwriter, while ten other tracks culled from Campbell's catalog fill out the set. There aren't many hits in the second half of this disc, but the material is consistently strong and Campbell's performances remain sterling on such neglected gems as "Still Within the Sound of My Voice" and "If These Walls Could Speak." While this isn't the first collection of Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb's work together (or even the first from Raven Records), it's the best one that has emerged to date, and is a caring testament to the work of two talented men who brought out the very best in one another in the studio. Anyone who cares about great pop music of the '60s and '70s would do well to have this in his or her collection.

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