For nearly fifty years, many of us have opened our doors to Glen Campbell on record and on television. So it came as a shock that, just two months before the release of what’s being billed as his final studio recording, Campbell announced that he has been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. The beloved singer and guitar legend still intends to embark on a farewell tour, and his wife Kim, speaking to People, assured fans that “Glen is still an awesome guitar player and singer. But if he flubs a lyric or gets confused onstage, I wouldn’t want people to think ‘What’s the matter with him? Is he drunk?” For the new album, Ghost on the Canvas, Campbell will be joined by a number of musicians whom he has influenced, including Paul Westerberg, Jakob Dylan, Billy Corgan, Robert Pollard and Rick Nielsen. But before that valedictory LP is released, the U.K.’s BGO label is affording fans the opportunity to revisit two Campbell classics on one CD. 1967’s Gentle on My Mind and By the Time I Get to Phoenix were the artist’s 6th and 7th studio albums for Capitol Records, and both were built around the titled hit singles. Both were country chart-toppers and the former peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 while the latter reached No. 15. The two-on-one CD is due in stores on July 4.
Gentle on My Mind was produced by Al De Lory, with De Lory arranging and conducting alongside none other than Leon Russell. Many familiar titles can be heard on the LP alongside John Hartford’s title song, which became one of Campbell’s signature songs. Donovan’s “Catch the Wind,” Jimmie Rodgers’ “It’s Over,” Petula Clark’s “You’re My World,” Harry Nilsson’s “Without Her” and Roy Orbison’s “Cryin’” all were recipients of the Campbell treatment. The band was, naturally, an accomplished one. Two players came from the famed Los Angeles “Wrecking Crew,” of which Campbell was a member, playing for everyone from Frank Sinatra to The Beach Boys (and Campbell, of course, was even a one-time touring Beach Boy himself). Joe Osborn handled bass and Leon Russell played piano as “Russell Bridges.” Campbell, on acoustic guitar, was joined by another legend of the instrument, James Burton, on both acoustic and electric, while Doug Dillard played banjo. Future Domino (of Derek and the Dominos) Jim Gordon played drums. “Gentle on My Mind,” the song, won two Grammy Awards. But just three months after Gentle’s release in August 1967, Capitol unveiled another Glen Campbell LP.
Hit the jump to read about the album that made Grammy Awards history, plus the complete track listing and discographical annotation!
By the Time I Get to Phoenix was built around the sumptuous production of Jimmy Webb’s title song, the track that Frank Sinatra famously called “the greatest torch song ever written.” But in Al De Lory’s production, it was less a torch song than a gloriously orchestral three-minute mini-movie. (It, too, would win two Grammy Awards for the singer!) The album had fewer concessions to modern-day pop, than Gentle on My Mind, though it offers a fine version of Paul Simon’s “Homeward Bound.” It’s rounded out by a couple of Campbell originals (“Back in the Race” and “Love is a Lonesome River”) and country classics by recognizable names like Ernest Tubb and Jerry Reed. The same core band of Campbell, Burton, Osborn and Gordon returned, as did Leon Russell for one track (“My Baby’s Gone.”) De Lory brought in Mort Garson and Jimmie Haskell to contribute arrangements. When By the Time I Get to Phoenix won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1968, it was the first-ever country album to win that top honor.
This release by BGO is actually a step backwards for the company; their last Campbell release brought to CD the two albums that followed Phoenix in 1968, Hey Little One and A New Place in the Sun. After an album of duets with Bobbie Gentry and his first Christmas offering, Campbell continued to set the charts afire with two more albums named after geographically-minded Jimmy Webb masterworks, Wichita Lineman and Galveston. It’s our hope that the series will continue and bring Campbell’s earliest LPs to CD as well as the hard-to-find seventies albums. (Gentle and Phoenix have both received standalone reissues from Capitol and have been combined once before, from EMI U.K.) But in case you missed these two albums before, BGO’s reissue looks like a solid one, with new remastering and notes promised. It’s a timely reminder of the talents of the courageous and talented Glen Campbell, and it arrives on July 4.
Glen Campbell, Gentle on My Mind/By the Time I Get to Phoenix (Capitol, 1967 – reissued BGO, 2011)
- Gentle on My Mind
- Catch the Wind
- It’s Over
- Bowling Green
- Just Another Man
- You’re My World
- The World I Used to Know
- Without Her
- Mary in the Morning
- Love Me As Though There Were No Tomorrow
- By the Time I Get to Phoenix
- Homeward Bound
- Tomorrow Never Comes
- Cold December (In Your Heart)
- My Baby’s Gone
- Back in the Race
- Hey Little One
- Bad Seed
- I’ll Be Lucky Someday
- You’re Young and You’ll Forget
- Love is a Lonesome River
Tracks 1-11 from Gentle on My Mind, Capitol 2809, 1967
Tracks 12-22 from By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Capitol 2851, 1967