Archive for August 15th, 2012
What makes for the perfect marriage of songwriter and singer? The magic is nearly indefinable when composer and lyricist meet a voice to serve as a muse; when two or three people, each with an inimitable gift, find themselves on a perfect, sympathetic and transcendent wavelength to bring each other’s music to life. There have been many such marriages across all genes of music: Dionne Warwick with Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Frank Sinatra with Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen; Petula Clark with Tony Hatch; Meat Loaf with Jim Steinman. Yet surely one of the most special is that of Glen Campbell with Jimmy Webb. That enduring relationship is the subject of Fantasy Records’ upcoming CD/DVD set, In Session, due in stores on September 25.
Since Glen Campbell first recorded “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” in 1967, he became intimately acquainted with the words and music of Jimmy L. Webb. Formerly a staff songwriter for Motown’s Jobete Music arm, Webb had placed songs with big names (The Supremes) and lesser-known talents (Danny Day, The Contessas) when he attracted the ear of Soul City’s Johnny Rivers. The “Poor Side of Town” and “Memphis, Tennessee” man was the first to release a version of “Phoenix,” on his 1967 album Changes. Within a year, he was enlisting Webb to write and produce an entire album for The 5th Dimension (with whom he had provided the multiple Grammy-winning hit “Up, Up and Away”) and was recording almost an entire all-Webb album himself.
Glen Campbell’s recording of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” scored the singer a No. 1 Country LP, with its title song hitting No. 2 Country, No. 12 AC and No. 26 Pop. Before long, Campbell sought out Webb to craft a follow-up with a similar geographical bent. “Wichita Lineman” was inspiration borne from necessity. Even though Frank Sinatra famously called “Phoenix” “the greatest torch song ever written,” “Wichita Lineman” might be even better, a song of striking maturity for such a young songwriter. Campbell’s reading perfectly captured its evocative mood, and the album of the same name hit No. 1 on both the country and pop charts. “Wichita” the single went all the way to No. 1 Country and AC, and No. 3 Pop. Glen Campbell was officially on his way, and Jimmy Webb was the hottest young songwriter on the planet.
Over the years, Campbell has recorded roughly forty of Webb’s songs, from the chart-topping “Galveston” (which repeated the placement of “Wichita” on all three singles charts!) to the recent ‘Wish You Were Here,” from Campbell’s last (final?) album Ghost on the Canvas. Webb has been there every step of the way with his musical soul brother, even contributing songs during Campbell’s contemporary Christian period.
Hit the jump for all the details on In Session! Read the rest of this entry »
Vinyl Renaissance: Omnivore Recordings Offers Art Pepper, Josh Haden’s Spain on Vinyl, Plus “Music City” Rarities
The term “record store” (two rather hallowed words in these parts!) has long been used to describe those stores that sell music, even well into the age of the CD, and now, the digital download. But lately, record store walls have been lined with more and more actual vinyl records. In 2011, more records were purchased than in any other year in the past two decades, with sales up 36 percent over 2010, to a not-too-shabby 3.9 million. Sales for 2012 are likely to best that number. Since its founding in 2010, Omnivore Recordings has been committed to the art of the vinyl record, even as it continues to make music available in CD and digital formats, too. Omnivore has recently announced three vinyl-only projects sure to excite collectors.
The late Ray Dobard’s Music City Records label, of Berkeley, California, is one of the most acclaimed regional labels of all time. Its deep catalogue reflects the titanic changes in African-American music styles from doo-wop to funk, and that catalogue has been the foundation for recent releases from Omnivore and its U.K. distributor, Ace Records. Ace’s 3-CD box set The Music City Story spanned 25 years and 78 tracks of R&B in all its guises, while Omnivore has tapped the label further for Darondo’s Listen to My Song: The Music City Sessions and The Two Things in One’s Together Forever: The Music City Sessions. Three vinyl-only, various-artists releases are coming soon from Omnivore with more classic Bay Area funk from the early 1970s. The Music City Sessions, Volume 1: Richmond Experience, just arrived on August 14. It will be followed by The Music City Sessions, Volume 2: Super Strut on September 18, and finally, The Music City Sessions, Volume 3: Soul Show on October 23. Each unlimited edition will be pressed on black vinyl, and will include a digital download card. All three volumes have been researched, produced, and annotated by Alec Palao, whose essay for Ace’s 2011 Music City Story box, received a Grammy Award nomination.
What can you expect on these three LPs? Hit the jump to find out – plus news on Omnivore’s reissue campaign for Josh Haden’s ’90s group Spain and alto sax great Art Pepper, with pre-order links and track listings for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »