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Meet Glen Campbell
Meet Glen Campbell is a masterclass in how to make a song your own. The man knows it too: dig the sleeve’s Ezekiel quotation: “Sing to the lord and make music in your heart to him.”
Peter Murphy, 17 Sep 2008
What a genius idea. Take Glen Campbell – an honourable journeyman who’s had his ups and downs sure, but whose rendering of Jimmy Webb’s ‘Wichita Lineman’ remains the holy grail of interpretive singing – and furnish him with a set of tunes forged by modern(ish) rock songwriters, all arranged and played with impeccable taste. The only surprise is Rick Rubin had nothing to do with it (production honours go to Julian Raymond and Howard Willing, and there are cameos by a couple of Cheap Tricksters too).
Meet Glen Campbell is a masterclass in how to make a song your own. The man knows it too: dig the sleeve’s Ezekiel quotation: “Sing to the lord and make music in your heart to him.” So, the choice of Travis’s ‘Sing’ as an opener is something of a mission statement. It’s also a glorious ‘60s baroque country-pop reimagining of the tune (and let it be said, that band might have been dubbed terminally uncool by the hiperati, but Fran Healy can write a melody).
Campbell follows it with a brace of Tom Petty tunes, ‘Walls’ and ‘Angel Dream’, triumphs of Rickenbacker chimes and grooves that are Keltner-like in their stoicism, plus sweeping, swooning strings.
If a great actor is defined by his choice of roles, then a singer is only as good as his A&R instincts. The song selection here is inspired. Foo Fighters’ ‘Times Like These’ is played Heartbreakers style, with Hank Marvin tremelo replacing powerchords, while the violin section provides panoramic back projection. Jackson Browne’s ‘These Days’ is as delicately autumnal as Nico’s version (and that’s saying something), Green Day’s ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’ loses none of its careworn airs through being reworked as a 2/4 country shuffle, and U2’s ‘All I Want Is You’ is delivered humbly but flawlessly, returning the song to its Spector roots while retaining Van Dyke Parks’s woozy string charts. And the glistening, gorgeous takes on Paul Westerberg’s ‘Sadly, Beautiful’ and John and Yoko’s ‘Grow Old With Me’ will drive a dozen shiny nails through your heart.