Tompall Glaser

Tompall & the Glaser Brothers

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The debut album from Tompall Glaser and the Glaser Brothers for MGM was a huge step up from the crap they'd been recording at Vocalion. With Cowboy Jack Clement introducing elements of Western swing and Marty Robbins' brand of cowboy balladry into their sound, they were beginning their transformation from being a pop-folk act into a country band. And while it's a far-from-perfect album, it does have one genuine classic on it -- the album's closer is one of Tompall's greatest songs, "The Streets of Baltimore," which charted for Bobby Bare in 1966 and would be covered by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris a few years later. (Interestingly, in 1967, the year this album was released, Parsons was trying to turn the Byrds into a genuine country-rock band.) Also notable is the appearance of John Hartford's "Gentle on My Mind," which was released and charted a week after Glen Campbell's version. Finally, acknowledging his debt to Marty Robbins, Tompall and family recorded a fine version of "El Paso," with full mariachi accompaniment. Hartford contributed another song to this set, "No End of Lover," and Clement and his songwriting partners wrote half the record, making Glaser with two and two others. This album is actually better because of the material than its subsequent follow-up in 1968, Through the Eyes of Love. It is worth it for the version of the Hartford hit alone, because the Glaser Brothers' version is every bit as authentic and moving as Campbell's.

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