Glen Campbell – “See You There” (2013)

August 27, 2013 at 1:32 am (Music, Reviews & Articles)

This review of Glen’s likely-final album comes from The Telegraph, dated Aug. 15th, and written by Helen Brown…

Back in 1967, Glen Campbell was struggling to make a career for himself as a solo artist when he heard John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind” on the radio. He connected to the song of lost love immediately, and rounded up members of his old Wrecking Crew band with whom he’d played on hits for Elvis, the Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra. They knocked out a rough version to pitch to Capitol Records, with Campbell yelling instructions to his band mates between verses. His producer fell in love with both the song and the impromptu recording, stripped Campbell’s shouting from the tape and turned the soulful demo into a hit.

Following his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s in 2011, the song’s lyrics about “forgotten words and bonds” and the tricky backroads and rivers of memory have a different poignancy. But in interviews given at the time, Campbell’s wife said that while he was prone to anxiety and forgot where the bathroom was, he was still connected to his old songs. Music was indeed proving gentle on his mind.

While he was recording his final album of new material – 2011’s Ghost on the Canvas – Campbell looked again at some of his signature songs and laid down new vocals. It is these raw reimaginings of his greatest hits that form the basis of See You There.

Producers Dave Kaplan and Dave Darling have sanded the new arrangements of smooth oldies such as “Gentle on My Mind” down to the rough grain. The result is a deeply moving record – a warm, valedictory squeeze of the listener’s hand from the cowboy hunk.

His versions of Jimmy Webb’s songs stand out. “Wichita Lineman” may well be the best pop song ever written. It’s certainly one of the most haunting and mysterious. Here the intensity of Campbell’s original recording is replaced by a feeling of weathered nostalgia. It’s slower, easier. The evident age in his new vocal invites you to imagine the lineman as a widower, listening for a ghost in the wire, smiling regretfully up at the electric sky. “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” is set against the slack, steel strings of a slide guitar and a steady, muffled drum drives “Galveston.”

Best, though, is the intimate new cut of “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Accompanied by just one scuzzy electric guitar, it sounds like Campbell’s alone in an empty auditorium. The old yodel in the voice is there as he sings of the “load of compromisin’ on the road to my horizon”. But the bright lights this devout Jew is gazing towards are no longer facing the stage. They’re much higher up.

Helen Brown

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/cdreviews/10245645/Glen-Campbell-See-You-There-review.html

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