McPhillips Street Station Winnipeg, MB Canada June 27/09 A few of my regular readers might think it a little odd that I’d be reviewing a country artist like Glen Campbell since I generally review more pop and rock orientated acts. But they’d be wrong on a couple of points. First off, I enjoy many country artists. Second, before becoming a star in his own right, Glen Campbell was an ace session guitarist. As part of the studio musician clique “The Wrecking Crew,” he recorded with some of the biggest names of the time.
He did stints with the house band on ABC’s Shindig with fellow luminaries such as Leon Russell, and recorded and toured with the Beach Boys. He played on a number of their records including their finest album, the highly acclaimed Pet Sounds. Glen’s work can be heard on records by legends such as Elvis, Ricky Nelson, Bobby Darrin, Frank Sinatra, The Mamas and Papas and numerous others. As a solo artist, Glen’s credentials are even more formidable. He’s won a Grammy Award, a Dove Award and was nominated twice for a Golden Globe.
He’s released over 70 albums, sold 45 million records and earned 12 Gold albums, 4 Platinum albums, 1 Double-Platinum album as well as trophies for Male Vocalist of the Year from both the CMA and the ACM, and took the CMA’s top spot as Entertainer of the Year. Glen also had a successful TV variety series and co-starred with John Wayne in the Duke’s Oscar Winnining peformance in the move True Grit. His immense back catalogue of hits include classics such as Gentle on My Mind, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, Southern Nights and Rhinestone Cowboy.
Glen is a musician’s musician, and it’s a treat to see him perform. He’s a very relaxed entertainer, and the stage is like second home to him. But don’t let that easy country boy charm fool you. Even though he’s now an elder statesman, he still can swap guitar and vocal chops with the best. Glen opened with the song that made him a star, the 1967 Johnny Hartford penned hit Gentle on My Mind. He looked great for his years, attired in a pin-striped jacket, black t-shirt, slacks and cowboy boots.
He cracked a joke about “Being happy to be here and being happy to be anywhere at all at his age!,” and given his seventy-something years, no doubt he meant it. He continued to lay on the hits much to the delight of the capacity audience. He followed up with 2 back to back Jimmy Webb penned classics, Galveston and By the Time I Get to Phoenix. Glen’s 5 piece back up band handled the arrangements tastefully.
I was amazed at how much range and power Glen has retained. He chatted easily with crowd. He told entertaining stories about some of his famous hits, tales of his Arkansa childhood and the thrill of working with John Wayne. His only concession to age was the occassional need to check his prompter for lyrics. But at his age, who could really hold it against him? When it came time for his guitar solos, absolutely no prompting was necessary.
Glen’s memory might slip once in a while, but not his fingers – they dazzled. Occassionally, he’d doff his guitar and sing solo, doing a good job of working all parts of the stage so he could engage the entire audience. He began to intermix hits like 1969’s Try a Little Kindness and the beautiful 1968 Jimmy Webb ballad Witchita Lineman with newer material like In My Heart and interesting covers like Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds’ 1971hit Don’t Pull Your Love.
1968’s Dream of the Everyday Housewife, and the title soundtrack to True Grit were followed up with a moody reading of The Highwayman and his US top 5 cover of Conway Twitty’s classic Only Make Believe. Of the latter, he remarked Elvis ought to have done it, and did a surprisingly effective impersonation of the King doing the song. He continued with a cover of George Jones’ She Thinks I Still Care and did some decent yodelling on the Hank Williams classic Lovesick Bues before taking a brief breather and turning the stage over to his daughter Debbie Campbell.
Debbie performed Silver Threads and Golden Needles, You Ain’t Woman Enough, and http://slotoff.com/ Oh Lonesome Me before calling dad back to team up with her on the June Carter/Johnny Cash hit Jackson as well as on the Everly Brothers’ Dream, Dream, Dream and Let It Be Me.