Sunday, April 7, 2013
Bobbie Gentry & Glen Campbell - Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell
Bobbie Gentry & Glen Campbell
Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell
I picked up this album last year after hearing it mentioned at the tribute to Glen Campbell concert at the Hollywood Bowl last summer. I went to the show on the spur of the moment. My mom was a fan of Campbell and we watched his variety show on television when I was a kid, but I had never followed his career very closely. Given that the show was part of his farewell tour, I knew this was my last chance to see him and I liked some of the artists in the tribute portion of the show, so I went. At first I regretted going when I saw that I was surrounded by old people. Usually when I go to a show, I'm one of the old people so that was pretty weird. Courtney Taylor-Taylor of the Dandy Warhols came out to start the show and did some Monkees and Beach Boys songs that Campbell had played guitar on as a session man. When the geezers around me saw him strut out and deliver the songs in his typical lugubrious drawl, they were practically apoplectic. He was followed by Lucinda Williams who did a few Campbell songs in her own inimitable style which resulted in the codger behind me loudly proclaiming that she couldn't sing. Then Kris Kristofferson hobbled out and croaked out a few Campbell cuts that he could barely remember the words to and all the seniors were ecstatic - at last someone they could relate to. At that point I really regretted coming, but fortunately the show picked up after that with Jenny Lewis and Dawes doing some fine work and of course the man of the hour himself delivering a remarkable show. He can still play guitar like a virtuoso issuing lightning fast runs with seemingly effortless ease. He can still sing remarkably well too, it is hard to believe that Alzheimer's disease has him in its grip. He went through his back catalog and delivered a life affirming and inspiring show. I was very impressed. Earlier in the evening Jenny Lewis and Jackson Browne did a cut from this album, "Let It Be Me," which Browne mentioned was from a duet Campbell did with Bobbie Gentry. This was when I became aware of this record. I like duet albums so the next time I was in a record store I looked for it and bought it. It isn't a very good record and pretty skimpy on top of that with 11 cuts running well under 30 minutes - typical Capitol Records. Gentry and Campbell don't have a lot of chemistry and he is a lot better singer than she is. I like her low husky voice, but her range limitations and lack of emotion are really exposed next to Campbell's full-throated ability. The man has the power to blow the doors off the barn and he hits the high notes a lot easier than she does. On most of their duets, I wish he would just sing the lead and let her supply the harmony. Most of the songs are pretty pedestrian but listenable aside from the music hall style "Terrible Tangled Web" which I hate. "Gentle on My Mind" sounded a lot better when Campbell sang it by himself and I do not need to hear another version of "Little Green Apples" - heck I really don't want to hear any version of that song. "My Elusive Dreams" sounded better when Tammy Wynette sang it with David Houston. The cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" is pretty much as awkward and weird as you'd expect but to his credit Campbell does sing his part very convincingly. A few songs on the album do stand out for me. Campbell's "Less of Me" was one of my favorite cuts on the Everly Brothers' "Roots." This version is nearly as good but is undermined by the overblown arrangement. He also wrote "(It's Only Your) Imagination" which is slight but enjoyable. I like Gentry's own laid back love song "Mornin' Glory" which is full of domestic charm. Margo Guryan's "Sunday Mornin'" does the same thing a whole lot better though, it is my favorite cut on the album although if I wanted to hear it, I'd be more inclined to play Guryan's own version. The above mentioned "Let It Be Me" is best known in the Everly Brothers' classic version and this version is not going to change that although it has its moments. I guess there are enough decent cuts that I don't mind having the record and I like the cover photo - you can't see it very well in my picture but Campbell is sporting a peace symbol on his necklace - groovy! Campbell was a multi-faceted and abundantly talented performer, I wish I had appreciated him more during his heyday. Recommended to people who don't believe that Campbell was a terrific singer.