A Tramp Shiningby Richard Harris
The artist's first collaboration with composer/producer Jimmy Webb is a great record, even 35 years later, encompassing pop, rock, elements of classical music, and even pop-soul in a body of brilliant, bittersweet romantic songs by Webb, all presented in a consistently affecting and powerful vocal performance by Harris. Harris treaded onto Frank Sinatra territory here, and he did it with a voice not remotely as good or well trained as his, yet he pulled it off by sheer bravado and his ability as an actor, coupled with his vocal talents -- his performance was manly and vulnerable enough to make women swoon, but powerful and manly enough to allow their husbands and boyfriends to feel okay listening to a man's man like Harris singing on such matters. The production and arrangements by Webb were some of the lushest ever heard on a pop album of the period, with a 35-piece orchestra whose presence was more influenced by the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album than it was by any of Nelson Riddle's work with Sinatra. Strangely enough, "MacArthur Park" -- the massive hit off the album -- isn't all that representative of the rest of the record, which relies much more on strings than brass and horns, and has a somewhat lower-key feel but also a great deal more subtlety. One can also hear the influence of Webb's then-recent work with the Fifth Dimension in the presence of the muted female chorus on "In the Final Hours" and, much more so, on "If You Must Leave My Life" (perhaps the best song on the album, and the most complex, with heavy rhythm guitar, a great beat, and lush orchestrations), which almost sounds like a lost Fifth Dimension cut. None of the support musicians are credited, though it's a safe bet that Larry Knechtel, Hal Blaine, and Joe Osborn are among those present. The domestic CD sounds amazingly good, considering that it was mastered in the 1980s, but serious fans may want to opt for Raven Records' The Webb Sessions, which contains this album plus its follow-up, The Yard Went on Forever.
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This is some of the best put-together music I have ever heard. I haven't had a way to listen to these albums since sometime in the seventies, so it's great to know I can order them on CD. Richard Harris was definitely an original, and there will not be another like him. The Jimmy Webb stuff is amazing, especially for a guy who used to play keyboards at my aunt's church in Oklahoma City (his father was the preacher). The Tony Romeo stuff is also over the top - it's so cool to see the titles and remember the songs. I can't wait to order these memories from my past.
this is a milestone in recording history, dwafing the Beatles, or who ever- it's a must for us sadeyed people from the outer parts of europe.
Richard Harris was well known before his big hit single MacArthur Park in the '60s. This song became a #1 hit in those days. Jimmy Webb wrote the lyrics to this song and I can remember many people on the radio trying to figure out exactly what this song was about in those days! It turns out that the song was about unrequited love, but no one was around to tell any of the radio DJs at that time. Keep 'em guessing! This song MacArthur Park is the original version, too. It's difficult to find original versions of the songs that go back to the '60s nowadays. But the original version that was the hit back in the '60s is here on a CD for those of us that really miss it!
There have been three musical celebrity deaths that have truly saddened me.....Rick Nelson, Marvin Gaye and Richard Harris. Ofcourse, Mr Harris was best known for his acting, not singing, but 35 yrs ago (!), at the age of 15, I was given "A Tramp Shining" for Christmas and have been a devoted fan ever since! He may not have had the BEST voice, but he sure did put alot of feeling into his songs. I just ordered the CD and have no doubt that I'll still be able to sing along with every title. I'm not sure what a "new" listener would think of this album, but it's so very special to me.......Harris was so cool - he'll be seriously missed, I'm sure.