Following the release of 1981's It's the World Gone Crazy, Glen Campbell left Capitol Records, his home of two decades, and moved over to Atlantic Records' new country division, Atlantic America. The superstar artist remained at Atlantic through 1986, releasing three mainstream country LPs while simultaneously recording contemporary Christian material at Word. Varese Vintage has recently released the first anthology of this oft-overlooked period in Campbell's career. For the Good Times features sixteen selections drawn from the Atlantic years plus one Warner Bros. single, and premieres two previously unreleased tracks.
At Atlantic, Campbell continued to bridge the gap between country and pop with his honeyed, emotional vocals. 1982's Old Home Town was produced by Jerry Fuller, an accomplished songwriter and singer in his own right. The September '82 release gave Campbell his best showing on the Country Albums chart since 1978. The album's three single A-sides have all been culled for inclusion here including Bob Corbin's "On the Wings of My Victory" (recut by Campbell for his 1992 Christian album Wings of Victory on the New Haven label) and the title track from David Pomeranz ("Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again," "The Old Songs"). Campbell's warm performance of Pomeranz' unusual simile ("You're so sweet to come home to/You're just like an old home town...") earned him a minor No. 44 Country hit, but the earlier single release of Barry Mann and Larry Kolber's 1961 Paris Sisters oldie did even better, making the top 20. Glen's easygoing style was ideal for Fuller's sleekly modernized production of the familiar melody. The fourth cut is from the pen of Campbell's longtime and most prominent collaborator, Jimmy Webb: the affecting, rueful "I Was Too Busy Loving You."
For 1984's Letter to Home, Campbell was again in a nostalgic mood with Carl Jackson's twangy title song, one of five tracks from the LP on Varese's new set. For Letter, Glen relocated to Nashville with producer Harold Shedd, but continued to mine both pop and country veins. J.D. Souther's "Faithless Love" was already familiar from Souther's and Linda Ronstadt's renditions, but Campbell brought it to an even wider audience with his Top 10 Country hit version. The tender ode to "A Lady Like You" came from songwriters Jim Weatherly ("Midnight Train to Georgia," "Neither One of Us") and Keith Stegall, referencing both a new relationship (likely Campbell's wife Kim, whom he married in 1982) and his faith in God. It earned Glen his biggest Atlantic hit, reaching No. 4. "Tennessee," with some of the more prominent picking from this era, reunited the singer with composer Michael Smotherman, who wrote most of his albums Basic and Highwayman as well as numerous other tracks recorded by Campbell at Capitol. "Tennessee" tapped into a classic country sound, albeit with a big-'80s drum sound and strings; Paul Kennerly's heartfelt ballad "I'll Be Faithful to You" might well have been a sequel to "A Lady Like You."
Campbell's final Atlantic America release came in 1986 with It's a Matter of Time, again recorded in Nashville with Shedd and so named for his revival of the Brook Benton classic. Though Benton's original recording of "It's Just a Matter of Time" topped the R&B chart in 1959 (and made an impressive No. 3 showing on the Hot 100), it later became a C&W staple. Campbell's Top 10 hit version followed Sonny James' 1970 cover but preceded Randy Travis' 1989 interpretation. (Both James and Travis went to No. 1 with the song.) Stan Jones' lively "Cowpoke," Mike Reid and Troy Seals' gently reflective story song "Call Home" and Jimmy Webb's timeless, oft-recorded "Do What You Gotta Do" round out the selections from this LP. "Do..." is one of three Webb compositions on Matter of Time, along with "Shattered" and "Cowboy Hall of Fame."
The two previously unissued songs are both covers of popular hits. Campbell recorded Dave Loggins' "Please Come to Boston" in 1983 and Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times" in 1985; these renditions fit comfortably with the other material here and are worthy additions to the Campbell discography. (Glen, on guitar, previously recorded "Good Times" with Tennessee Ernie Ford on the Capitol LP Ernie Sings and Glen Picks and also performed it solo on television.) Another bonus here is the inclusion of the hit Warner Bros. single "Any Which Way You Can" from the Clint Eastwood-starring film of the same name. The song, which kicks off this chronologically-sequenced compilation, was also included on Glen's final Capitol album.
Laurence Zwisohn provides a brief essay in this release's insert. Art director Bill Pitzonka has nicely replicated the original Atlantic America label for the CD. For the Good Times has been freshly remastered by Steve Massie. Following his Atlantic tenure, Glen migrated to MCA Records and continued to experience chart success with such tracks as "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" and Jimmy Webb's "Still Within the Sound of My Voice" before moving to Liberty Records. All the while he remained committed to contemporary Christian music, as well. Varese's For the Good Times is an enjoyable look back at how well Campbell adapted to the changing sound of country in the 1980s while staying true to his roots as a pop-country balladeer nonpareil. It's available now at the links below!
- Any Which Way You Can
- The Old Home Town
- Please Come to Boston
- I Was Too Busy Loving You
- I Love How You Love Me
- On the Wings of My Victory
- Faithless Love
- A Lady Like You
- (Love Always) A Letter to Home
- For the Good Times
- I'll Be Faithful to You
- It's Just a Matter of Time
- Call Home
- Do What You Gotta Do
Track 1 from Warner Bros. single 49609, 1980
Tracks 2, 4-6 from Old Home Town, Atlantic America 90016, 1982
Tracks 3 & 10 previously unreleased
Tracks 7-9, 11-12 from Letter to Home, Atlantic America 90164, 1984
Tracks 13-16 from It's a Matter of Time, Atlantic America 90483, 1985