Years before 1975’s “Rhinestone Cowboy” made him one of the biggest stars in the nation, Glen Campbell was a reliable hitmaker whose clear voice, boyish smile, and easygoing personality was seen weekly on the Glen Campbell Good Time Hour, a variety show that ran on CBS as a summer replacement series from 1969-1972. Earlier this week, Time-Life Video released Good Times Again, a 60-minute DVD that compiles many of the musical highlights from that show.
Although the Good Time Hour might not have the hipster appeal that The Johnny Cash Show, which ran concurrently on ABC, would achieve, it succeeded not only because of its host's charms, but also because of the diversity of the performers. With guests ranging from Sarah Vaughn to Three Dog Night, and Little Richard to Roy Clark, the show offered a range of music rarely seen elsewhere since.
Good Times Again focuses mostly Campbell's bread-and-butter of country music. He sings duets with country stars Roger Miller, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Bobbie Gentry (with whom he also recorded a hit album). Nelson provides the biggest surprise, not because of anything in his typically fine performance, but because he was dressed conservatively with short hair.
The pop singers that show up, like Linda Ronstadt and Ricky Nelson, all have country and/or folk influences. When Ray Charles appears, the highlight of the set, they sing his hit version of Buck Owens' "Cryin' Time." Bob Dylan appears twice, not in person, but through duets with Cher ("All I Really Want To Do") and Anne Murray ("Don't Think Twice, It's Alright").
Campbell's own career is well-represented, too. There are excellent versions of his hits, "Wichita Lineman," "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," and "Galveston." The final song of the collection is a duet with John Hartford, the writer of "Gentle On My Mind," which also served as the theme song for the show.
Unlike Time-Life's set of This Is Tom Jones that I reviewed earlier this year, this DVD avoids the comedy sketches almost entirely (there is an amusing bit with The Smothers Brothers from the debut episode). That said, Steve Martin and Rob Reiner were writers on the show, which leads me to believe that the humor might have aged better than what was on display on Jones' show.
The DVD also includes a 15-minute interview with Campbell in which he offers his insight into his time on the show, the guest performers, and his career. He frequently punctuates his ideas by singing a few bars or playing his guitar, which shows that, at 71, he hasn't lost too much with age.