Glen Campbell

The Glen Campbell Collection (1962-1989): Gentle on My Mind

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Glen Campbell not only had an enormous number of hit singles, he was also a staple of pop culture, appearing in films and hosting a TV show during the late '60s and early '70s. Before that, he was a respected studio musician and performer in search of a hit in the early '60s, cutting great singles that nobody heard. All this makes his career difficult to compile, even on a double-disc set with 40 songs, so it shouldn't be a huge surprise that Razor & Tie's 1997 compilation The Glen Campbell Collection (1962-1989), for all its attributes, is heavily flawed. Its biggest problem is its scope; by extending its reach to the end of the '80s, when Campbell was still having hits out of sheer inertia and was far past his peak, the listenability of the second disc nosedives about halfway through. Conversely, there's not enough of his earlier singles, such as his debut, "Universal Soldier," and, most egregiously, the Brian Wilson-written "Guess I'm Dumb," an achingly gorgeous song that is easily as good as any of the classic Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys singles. Of course, the heart of this -- or any -- Glen Campbell collection is the hits he had in the late '60s and early '70s on Capitol Records, when he was a fixture in the country and pop Top Ten with singles like "Wichita Lineman," "Galveston," and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." They're all here, along with "I Wanna Live," "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife," "Gentle on My Mind," "True Grit," "Where's the Playground Susie," and, on the second disc, "Rhinestone Cowboy," "Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in LA)," "Southern Nights," and "Sunflower." At the time of its release in 1997, it was more hits than any other Campbell collection, and it still is a very good cross section of basics. Where it stumbles is on the selection of smaller hits and album tracks, which are entirely too chart-bound (he had many songs better than some songs that reached the middle of the charts) and sometimes just plain silly and annoying, as in "The William Tell Overture" that closes the first disc. This, combined with the bland adult contemporary material that comprises the second half of the second disc (only "Bloodline" and perhaps "Can You Fool") make this an imperfect collection, but given that most Campbell collections have been a hodgepodge of hits, it still is one of the better discs to make sense of his entire career -- especially because the dip in quality toward the end does mirror the arc of his career. But, if you want a two-disc collection of Glen Campbell at his peak, seek out the U.K. collection Capitol Years: 1965-1977, which is a much more consistent and pleasing retrospective, with a much better selection of songs.

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