Half way through the year and it’s the sixth instalment of exploring new music (new to me at least) and this month, I’ve taken inspiration from Alfie’s new country set from his current shows. Glen Campbell is one of those artists who has always been around, whose music is part of our culture, but I only really know a couple of songs. Rhinestone Cowboy and Wichita Lineman were about the only songs I could name, so this month, I’ve been listening to some of his albums. Researching this piece, I had no idea that Campbell had been a session musician before hitting the big time, working with just about everyone and was even a touring member of the Beach Boys at one point. While recording country music, Campbell also crossed over (that term again!) into pop and some of his biggest hits were hits in the pop charts too. His easy manner made him an ideal TV star and his own show ran for several years in the late 1970’s.
Campbell made over sixty albums so there was a lot to choose from, but taking advice, I settled for Wichita Lineman (1968), Galveston (1969), Southern Nights (1977) and Ghost on the Canvas (2011). Of the four, I enjoyed Galveston and Ghost on the Canvas the most.
Campbell’s earliest recordings reflected the bluegrass tradition and Galveston sees a return to some of this music, If This Is Love is a notable example:
Slotted in amongst the majority country crossover tracks, this self penned beauty has a frenetic bluegrass feel and is full of energy. Other favourite tracks are Where’s the Playground Susie and of course the title track, a song that jumped into the top five mainstream chart. Many consider this to be Campbell’s best album and I can’t say I disagree.
Campbell had a smash hit with 1975’s Rhinestone Cowboy and 1977’s Southern Nights repeated that success, both artistically and commercially – Campbell had his second Number One pop hit with the sunny title track. Campbell also had a second Top 40 hit from this album, the catchy Sunflower, written but never recorded by Neil Diamond.
2008 saw a new album from Campbell, Meet Glen Campbell, in which, to glorious acclaim he covered artists such as Travis, Green Day and Foo Fighters. Three years later, an album of mainly self penned originals was released, Ghost on the Canvas and is absolutely fabulous, vying for best album for me. The opener, A Better Place is just beautiful – pared down, and perfectly complements the final track, No Me Without You. In between, It’s Your Amazing Grace is that rare thing – a perfect song, with it’s pop-indie-country sound and In My Arms has danceability in spades.
Once again, thank you Alfie for inspiring me to explore different music – this is the best New Year’s resolution ever and certainly the one I’ve kept going the longest.
Ghost on the Canvas is available here:
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