mon 23/09/2019

CD: Glen Campbell - See You There | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Glen Campbell - See You There

CD: Glen Campbell - See You There

The last word from country totem refashions classics as a set of melancholy arias

A fine farewell: Glen Campbell records for the last time

Since the announcement that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s, the music industry has splashily paid tribute to Glen Campbell: a big celebration at the Country Music Awards, a lifetime achievement Grammy. Campbell himself went out on the road to make a more personal farewell. This album is clearly his last word. The title – See You There – invokes the religious faith that has worked its way into Campbell’s songwriting since he turned away for the unholy country trinity of drink and drugs and divorce.

When Campbell was recording Ghosts on the Canvas in 2011, he also re-recorded the vocals for many of his best-known songs, and here producers Dave Kaplan and Dave Darling have given them a fresh lick of paint. The likes of "Wichita Lineman” are still in-and-out three-minute country snapshots with a melancholy flavour. But there have been big changes – depending on your taste for full-on Seventies country crossover, you might even say improvements.

The main decision has been to remove all trace of the strings that hang around the original recordings like a jaunty perfume. Thus "Rhinestone Cowboy" is introduced with a lone jangly guitar, later joined by quiet acoustic strumming: with just a rhythm section, an ancient anthem is reinvented as a wizened country aria. “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” is stripped out to sound like something arranged by Burt Bacharach. The fast acoustic picking on “Gentle on My Mind” has gone and in come the discreet electric chugs and curls. The lone instrumental remnant is a slide guitar on "True Grit".

The most natural change is of course in the voice. In his pomp Campbell was a highwire tenor. Here he’s more the gravelly baritone, lending the songs an empirical twist and adding real heft to those trademark melodic dying falls. In “Galveston”, it’s now an old man that sings “I am so afraid of dying.” A fine farewell.

Overleaf: watch the video for 'Hey Little One'

Jasper Rees on Twitter

The main decision has been to remove all trace of the strings that hang around the original recordings like a jaunty perfume

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