The Anthology 1968-1974: Man of Words

Richard Harris

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The Anthology 1968-1974: Man of Words Review

by Matt Collar

The Anthology 1968-1974: Man of Words collects the best cuts of actor/singer Richard Harris' music career beginning with his late-'60s work with legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb. The most well-known of these tracks is Harris' classic version of Webb's enigmatic pop song "MacArthur Park" from the 1968 album A Tramp Shining. Harris was a well-respected, Shakespearean-trained actor in his early thirties when he began his pop career and had his most success with that first album. The follow-up, 1968's The Yard Went on Forever, was more ambitious in scope and failed to register with the public. Despite this, Harris continued to record albums through the mid-'70s and although he never achieved the same acclaim in his music endeavors as in his film work, there is much to appreciate in this collection. Many of these cuts, especially the ones anchored by Webb's superbly melodic and skillful songwriting, evince a strong psych-pop, Baroque pop influence reminiscent of such artists as the Beatles and Paul Williams. Similarly, Harris' emotive delivery, though informed by his theatrical training, never comes off maudlin, or garishly overdone. Instead, he remains a kind of idiosyncratic pop entity much in the spirit of such icons as Jacques Brel and Scott Walker.

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