Written by Fantasma el Rey
Meet Glen Campbell, ladies and gents, a well-loved and respected country music artist whose career has spanned over fifty years and seventy albums. Along the way Campbell has racked up many country/pop hits that have stood the test of time and are still spun on jukeboxes today, like “Galveston,” “Wichita Lineman,” and “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.” These heartfelt songs of love and everyday working life are what have made him the beloved icon he is today. With his latest effort he has handpicked some of the best rock hits of past years and has left his warm, slightly melancholy impression on them.
The 72-year-old Campbell chose ten mid-tempo rock tunes and with his calm voice and accomplished guitar picking has interrupted them in a way that is definitely his own. Although that doesn’t mean that these ten tracks are completely re-worked just “Campbell-fied.” If you know his tunes, mentioned above, then you have the basic blueprint for this CD. There are some surprising choices but they all lend themselves well to Campbell’s style.
The disk opens with Travis’ “Sing,” which is a wonderful tune that sets the tone for the rest of the CD. Campbell’s version is almost a complete cover and not a remake. What I mean is that the song remains the same, no pun intended, as the original. The instrumentation is nearly exact; Campbell’s vocals are close as well. Tom Petty’s “Walls” and “Angel Dream” get the same sort of treatment: “Walls” has the same sweeping sound in its string section and a good, solid beat, as “Angel Dream” strikes a chord with its galloping drums and banjo-picking.
Campbell covers some major modern hits as well with U2’s “All I Want Is You” and Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life).” Both songs come across as more country sounding as “Good Riddance” adds more instruments, but too little has changed to make them truly stand out as Johnny Cash did with his American Recordings (specifically “Rusty Cage” and “Hurt”), shaking the originals into something different. The same can be said of The Replacements’ “Sadly Beautiful,” Jackson Browne’s “These Days” and John Lennon’s “Grow Old With Me.”
Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These” strays from the original as Campbell’s version is not as electric guitar noisy and his vocals shine through, adding warmth to the song. “Jesus” by The Velvet Underground is the most tweaked tune on the album. It has a more spiritual feel to it as the bells and strings make it stand far from the Velvets version, giving a true country feeling as opposed to a New York City street vibe. Not that I think Lou Reed has no faith but knowing Campbell as a country boy makes it less of a satire and more an honest plea for direction.
Meet Glen Campbell is a very enjoyable CD and one I will listen to many times over, “These Days” has had the biggest effect on me and I can’t get it out of my head. Glen Campbell puts all his effort and love into these songs and it shows, yet as far as being a groundbreaking album it falls short. It is nowhere near the horror/comedy of Pat Boone doing heavy metal covers, but don’t expect Cash on American Records either. It is all Glen Campbell though, all his feeling, all his love and experience put into songs that fit very well into his repertoire, and some even sound tailor-made for him. Keep your ears open for the single “Good Riddance” on the radio, Glen’s first in many, many years.