The Capitol Years 65/77
There is no definitive Glen Campbell compilation, but this 130-minute, two-disc set from England comes very close to it, and also forms a perfect compliment to Razor & Tie's Glen Campbell Collection: 1962-1989 (which it overlaps amazingly little). With 46 songs, selected from various singles, starting with Campbell's first pop
ock hit "Universal Soldier" and rarities such as the beautiful flops "Guess I'm Dumb" (co-authored and produced by Brian Wilson) and "Less of Me," along with various album tracks and B-sides, it's as good a cross-section of his sound (including two duets with Bobbie Gentry) and his successes as you can find. What's more, by ranging freely through the hits and the album cuts, it shows off Campbell's strengths in various idioms, from the country-ish "Just Another Man" and the more pop-focused "It's Over," to the brilliant "Reason to Believe" and non-LP sides, such as "You're Young and You'll Forget" sandwiched in between "Wichita Lineman" and Campbell's own "Everytime I Itch I Wind Up Scratching You." "True Grit," the title-song of the film in which he co-starred, is very much a piece with the best of his singles from that era, immersed in rich melodic textures, supported by moderately dense orchestration backing a superb vocal performance. Disc two is intriguing for its inclusion of the Jimmy Webb songs Campbell recorded during the early '70s (beginning with "Honey Come Back") that didn't become hits, and which haven't been heard often (if at all) on CD; they make a logical core for the second half of Campbell's Capitol history, and have generally been ignored along with most of that history (other than "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Southern Nights"), and "As Far As I'm Concerned," "It's Only Make Believe," "Just Another Piece of Paper," "Last Time I Saw Her," and "Dream Sweet Dreams About Me" are among the best sides Campbell ever recorded, and are comparable to his finest work from the 1960s. The sound is crisp, state-of-the-art fidelity circa 1998, which makes it comparable (or superior) to most of the rival compilations out there from American Capitol. The annotation is also reasonably thorough, and the packaging is neat and unpretentious. This British release is worth tracking down, though its virtues are also both sad reflections of the lack of respect with which American Capitol has usually treated Campbell's catalog.