Glen Campbell

The Astounding 12-String Guitar

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There was a brief vogue for recording guitar-oriented instrumentals of folk songs for the pop and rock market just around the time the early-'60s folk boom started to taper off. Billy Strange's Twelve String Guitar was one of them, and so was The Astounding 12-String Guitar of Glen Campbell. And like that Strange LP, this was not so much a folk-rock precursor as an appropriation of folk melodies for Hollywood studio sessions that happened to use some bass and drums in addition to the guitar. If nothing else, this album is notable evidence of Campbell's considerable instrumental skills, which have generally been overlooked since his rise as a pop vocal star. But these readings of tunes like "Puff (The Magic Dragon)," "Blowin' in the Wind," "Green, Green," and "This Land Is Your Land" are rather perfunctory, as if they were laid down in an hour or two between the players' other session commitments (and it would be no surprise to learn that was the case). Campbell does take one vocal, on Bob Dylan's "Walkin' Down the Line" (which Dylan had yet to release at that point), which is probably the highlight of the album. He also wrote a couple of serviceable instrumental showcases for his 12-string, "12-String Special" and "Bull Durham." Notable session players on the record include drummers Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer, banjoist Roy Clark (who wrote one of the tracks, "Lonesome Twelve"), and Chip Douglas (later to produce the Monkees); noted pop and rock producer Nick Venet co-produced. Make sure you check the disc itself before you buy it, as a reissued version, unfortunately, deleted a couple of the dozen tracks from the already-short running time; those were "Wimoweh" and "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" (aka the theme to The Beverly Hillbillies).

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