My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Glen Campbell – ‘Reunion: The Songs Of Jimmy Webb’

reunionThe songwriter most closely associated with Glen Campbell’s career, and the writer of some of his best known songs, is Jimmy Webb. In 1974 Glen paid tribute to his friend with this album, with Webb acting as arranger and providing the sweeping strings so familiar from the crossover hits. None of the songs is as accessible as those famous ones, but there is much to appreciate here if you listen closely.

The sole single, ‘It’s A Sin When You Love Somebody’, reached a peak of only #16 country and #39 AC, but is perhaps the most commercial song on the album. The gospel undertones in the arrangement are appropriate for a song about the intensity of passionate love and divine condemnation/forgiveness.

My favourite track is the beautiful ‘You Might As Well Smile’, which has a gorgeous melody and a comforting message about the aftermath of a relationship. Also very good is the wistful ‘Wishing Now’, about separation from a loved one.

‘Just This One Time’ is a passionately delivered appeal to a lover to trust him:

And I know I’ve given you every reason
In this whole round world to fear me now
But my love’s a raging river
And you trapped it in your hands, sweet darlin’

I also very much like ‘I Keep It Hid’, on the theme of feelings enduring past the official breakup.

I was a little bored by the reproachful ‘Ocean In His Eyes’, another song about a failed relationship. Webb took the title of ‘The Moon’s A Harsh Mistress’ from a similarly titled science fiction novel by Robert Heinlein; the song is a dreamy and presumably metaphorical reflection on failure and loss, which Glen sings beautifully. ‘Adoration’ hides a bitchy putdown under a pretty surface.

Surprisingly, the album did not consist exclusively of Jimmy Webb tunes. Jimmy’s sister Susan Webb wrote ‘About The Ocean’, a pleasant sounding ballad with a melancholy feel and slightly elusive lyric which appears to be about a breakup. ‘Roll Me Easy’, written by Southern Rocker Lowell George (and known elsewhere by the variant title ‘Roll ‘Um Easy’), has a nice breezy feel and although not an obvious choice for Glen, Webb’s arrangement ensures it fits in quite nicely.

I wouldn’t categorise this as a country album in any way, but it is impeccably conceived and performed, and is a favourite for many of Glen Campbell’s fans. As a bonus the 2001 re-mastered reissue includes ‘Wichita Lineman’ and ‘By The Time I Get to Phoenix’.

Grade: A-

One response to “Album Review: Glen Campbell – ‘Reunion: The Songs Of Jimmy Webb’

  1. Erik North November 16, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Although it is true that the songs on this album aren’t as well known as those that Glen had recorded during that great 1967-70 period, this should not imply a slackening of Webb’s songwriting ability. Just for pure arcane matters, here are a few factoids:

    “I Keep It Hid” had already been recorded by the Supremes (post-Diana Ross) in 1972.

    “It’s A Sin” and “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” were both recorded around this same time by British “white soul” legend Joe Cocker. “Moon” had also been recorded by Judy Collins, also at around that time.

    And “Roll Um Easy”, the Lowell George cover, would be done, in a very feisty blues-rock version, by Linda Ronstadt. In fact, Linda, whom Webb had met around 1971 or so, would, along with Glen, be considered by Webb to be one of the great interpreters of his songbook.

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