My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Glen Campbell – ‘Southern Nights’

Glen_Campbell_Southern_Nights_album_coverSave an album recorded live in Japan two years earlier, 1977’s Southern Nights was the first time we saw Glen Campbell in the producer’s chair. He collaborated with Gary Klein and created a chart-topping album.

Two singles were issued to country radio. Allen Toussaint’s wonderful drum and guitar heavy “Southern Nights” is the classic, which peaked at #1. The other single was Neil Diamond’s “Sunflower” an aggressive mid-tempo that leans too heavily on rock guitars for my liking.

Also included on Southern Nights is a cover of The Beach Boys classic “God Only Knows.” Campbell’s version is far too slow and prodding, with lush strings that hinder his ability to convey the powerful lyrical content.

Campbell’s longtime friend Jimmy Webb contributed two songs to the album, each with flavorless and maddening arrangements. “This is Sarah’s Song” isn’t to my liking at all but I feel the lyric to “Early Morning Song” is inviting. That being said, I wouldn’t seek out either song to listen to again.

The string section remains on “For Crying Out Loud” but the inclusion of a more prominent drum section gives the otherwise sleepy ballad the kick of energy it needs. “Let Go,” another up-tempo in the vein of the title track, follows suit. While it isn’t very country, it should’ve been a single.

“Guide Me,” returns Campbell to the ballad realm that suffocates the majority of the album. “How High Did We Go” retains more of the same, but Campbell’s vocal scores, and the production is nicely thicker than the rest. And although it was co-written by Roger Miller, “(I’m Getting) Used To The Crying” is more of the same.

This is a tough album for me to critique, since it isn’t of my era. I couldn’t find much of anything to love in any of the arrangements, except for the title track. If I’m being blunt, I found Southern Nights quite boring. Now, this isn’t my kind of country music so I really cannot say if he does this style any justice or not. I just know it really wasn’t my taste.

Grade: C

2 responses to “Album Review: Glen Campbell – ‘Southern Nights’

  1. Paul W Dennis November 21, 2015 at 8:32 am

    I liked “Sunflower” but other than that I think your review is spot on. The strings don’t especially bother me but I don’t like most of the arrangements and I didn’t like “Southern Nights”.

    The arrangements were anything but country and frankly, most of the songs weren’t that good and the good Brian Wilson and Roger Miller songs were spoiled by the arrangements

    D+ or C-

  2. Mitchell Weiss November 30, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    I have to disagree with this review. The reviewer struggles to point out credible flaws with musical terms such as “arrangements,” which it’s clear he doesn’t have the music chops to understand what an arrangement is (I will not go on to explain that here).

    Without dissecting the album song by song, I will instead speak of the title song “Southern Nights.” Southern Nights was written by legendary jazz artist Allen Toussaint. You can find his original version on youtube. Give Mr. Toussaint’s version (the songwriter) a listen and Campbell’s version of Southern Night’s and without having to understand anything more about music, the listener will know something great was done with this song. In fact, it has been said, the legend Allen Toussaint himself walked into the chairman’s office of EMI Music Publishing where record producer Gary Klein was having a meeting and Toussaint got down on one knee, kissed Klein’s hand and thanked him for the production of the song he wrote.

    Southern Night’s guitar intro by also legendary guitar player Glen Campbell is so infectious it’s impossible to ignore. The tune so catchy there’s a reason it charged ahead of hits by the Bee Gees and The Eagles Hotel California to become number one across all charts.

    The production of this song is stunning. Record producer Klein’s recording was so compelling that the next artist to call on him was Dolly Parton. Klein took a song recorded by B.J. Thomas “Here You Come Again,” and heard a hit in it. Take a listen to the B.J. Thomas version and then what becomes of the Parton smash “Here You Come Again,” and you have all you need to know about record production.

    After hearing Parton’s version of “Here You Come Again,” arguably the world’s greatest female vocalist, Barbra Streisand, asked to meet record producer Klein. He went on to be the only record producer to record more than one full album with Streisand (three).

    I think the review of Southern Night’s needs to be reevaluated.

    A+

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