October 2008

Glen Campbell - Meet Glen Campbell
Capitol 34137
Format: CD
Released: 2008

by Rad Bennett

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****

Glen Campbell was one of my favorite performers in the 1960s and 1970s and yet another icon to be drug down by the ravages of addiction. Until now, the most recent memory of him has been that awful Nick Nolte-lookalike mug shot from 2003, when he was arrested for drunk driving. However, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame two years later, and that seemed to be a pivotal point toward an upward swing climaxing with this CD. Campbell is on his mark once more and has proved that you can go home again, since this set is on Capitol, the label that launched his early hit albums.

In this set, Campbell does what he does best. He sings simply and without affectation, letting a lyric sell its meaning without pushing it, meanwhile delivering solid guitar work. He’s picked his repertory in order to be "current," so we find him doing tunes made famous by U2 and Tom Petty. Green Day’s "Good Riddance" is a perfect vehicle for Campbell and is on its way to becoming a successful single. I winced when I saw Lou Reed’s "Jesus" on the playlist, but Campbell makes the song very personally his. When he sings about one who’s "fallen from grace," he can identify, and so can we.

A good portion of Campbell’s successful repertory was written by Jimmy Webb, so it’s great news that this CD closes with remixes of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Galveston," and "Wichita Lineman" (my own personal favorite) as well as "Rhinestone Cowboy" by Larry Weiss, and John Hartford’s "Gentle on My Mind." In these, the guitars and drums seem stronger and clearer than before without losing any of the bite of the Webbesque string arrangements. The arrangements for the new songs on the album follow that tradition, too, and are anything but subtle. They’d swallow up a lesser talent, but Campbell rides them home in a very successful recording comeback.