Glen Campbell joined Capitol Records in 1962, remaining with the label through 1981. At Capitol, Campbell released almost 40 albums, picking up six Grammy Awards and scoring such indelible hits as “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.),” and “Southern Nights.” Campbell followed up his remarkable two decades at Capitol by signing to Atlantic Records’ new country-oriented Atlantic America imprint. Cherry Red’s Morello Records imprint today brings Campbell’s three underrated Atlantic LPs back to CD in a new 2-CD edition with one new-to-CD bonus track. While all have previously been released on CD, they now fetch high numbers on the secondhand market, making this release a most welcome one.
Campbell’s Atlantic debut, 1982’s Old Home Town, united him with one of his best friends: singer-songwriter-producer Jerry Fuller. With a C.V. including Ricky Nelson, Johnny Mathis, The Knickerbockers, Ray Price, Al Wilson, and Gary Puckett and The Union Gap, Fuller was (and is) one of the most versatile talents in pop, rock, R&B, and country. Fuller first met Campbell in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the young guitar-slinger went to go see a bill featuring Fuller and The Champs. Campbell was living in Albuquerque and playing local clubs there with his uncle’s band, and invited Fuller to see him. Fuller was immediately impressed with what he heard. He gave Campbell his phone number and address, and implored him to look him up in Los Angeles. Upon his arrival there, Fuller helped land him a job in The Champs and made the introductions on the L.A. scene that saw Campbell soon become an in-demand session guitarist. One of his earliest solo recordings (as “Billy Dolton”) was Fuller’s song “Girls.” He and Fuller remained close for the decades to come but Old Home Town marked their first LP together.
Recording in California with Campbell’s band Caldonia, Fuller showcased every side of his old friend’s artistry. The album was named after David Pomeranz’ sweet, melodic “Old Home Town” (“You’re so sweet to come home to/You’re just like an old home town”), also the lead single. Joe Rainey and Don Rogers’ “Hang On Baby (Ease My Mind)” offered a slick slice of country-pop with some boogie-woogie ivory tickling, and Campbell also breathed life into Rainey’s moody “A Few Good Men.”
The tongue-twisting “Blues (My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me)” conjured a jazz feel, winningly pulled off by Campbell. The gospel-infused “On the Wings of My Victory” elicited a vocal performance straight from the singer’s soul, as did the heartbreaking “I Was Too Busy Loving You” from the pen of his longtime friend and collaborator, Jimmy Webb. Fuller himself wrote the warm and tender ode to “A Woman’s Touch,” and selected a couple of choice covers: a subtly modern updating of The Paris Sisters’ “I Love How You Love Me” (a top 20 Country hit for Campbell) and a folk-inflected reading of Paul McCartney’s “Mull of Kintyre” which became a concert favorite.
Glen set up shop in Nashville for his next Atlantic LP, joining forces with producer Harold Shedd for 1984’s Letter to Home. Joined by Nashville cats such as David Briggs on keyboards, Jerry Douglas on dobro, and Bergen White’s strings, Campbell and his band (including Caldonia’s Carl Jackson on mandolin and banjo) delivered a stellar set in the countrypolitan vein.
Carl Jackson penned the album’s affecting title track (a top 20 chart entry) featuring Harris’ resplendent harmonies, while another emotional highlight was Campbell’s sublime take on J.D. Souther’s “Faithless Love.” Glen was rewarded with a top ten hit. Shedd balanced upbeat, contemporary country material like Ted Hewitt’s “Leavin’ Eyes” and Jackson and bandmate T.J. Kuenster’s “Scene of the Crime” with ballads like the soaring “Tennessee” from Micheal [sic] Smotherman (a songwriter whom Campbell had championed since the Capitol days) and Jim Weatherly’s romantic “A Lady Like You.” The latter became a No. 4 hit.
Buddy Cannon and Steve Nobles’ “Goodnight Lady” found Campbell taking on the classic road song tradition, while he cut straight to the heart with his surprising, and completely effective, interpretation of Stevie Nicks’ “After the Glitter Fades.” The fourth single off her smash Bella Donna LP, it had actually been written in her pre-fame days.
Few would have tackled Mickey Newbury’s “An American Trilogy” in the shadow of Elvis Presley, but Campbell – who famously demoed numerous tracks for The King – had no such qualms, and in fact channeled Presley, as he had on those demos, for his own deeply felt recording. Campbell’s innate modesty and sincerity as a singer kept the bombast in check on the anthemic melody.
Glen’s second consecutive LP with Shedd, 1985’s It’s Just a Matter of Time, was named for his smooth reinvention of the classic R&B tune by Brook Benton, Clyde Otis, and Belford Hendricks. It notched him a top ten hit. Shedd welcomed back many of the same players plus the great Buddy Emmons on steel guitar. Touching balladry was again emphasized on tracks like Troy Seals and Mike Reid’s “Call Home” and three tracks from the formidable pen of Jimmy Webb: a paean to one who belongs in the “Cowboy Hall of Fame” (with much the same musical flavor as Webb’s “Highwayman”), a fine, new interpretation of the oft-covered “Do What You Gotta Do,” and the big ballad “Shattered,” to which Campbell brought both power and vulnerability.
Reflecting the artist’s eclectic spirit, there was a downhome romp (Stan Reid’s “Cowpoke”) and a Marty Robbins specialty (the “El Paso”-esque tribute “Gene Autry, My Hero”). Campbell and Shedd even dipped into the nineteenth century (!) for James Thornton’s “When You Were Sweet Sixteen.” Featuring some lovely acoustic guitar work from Campbell, the song proved to be timeless.
These three albums represented Campbell’s complete released body of work for Atlantic save one non-LP single released in the U.K.: “They Still Dance to Waltzes in England.” Co-written by Buddy Cannon, the nostalgic tribute to Britain’s part has been a bona fide rarity, if a curiosity. It makes its CD debut here; the B-side was “Letter to Home.” (Note that Campbell recorded one other studio album during this period, the 1985 Contemporary Christian set No More Night for Word Records.) Campbell followed up his Atlantic tenure with a move to MCA Records before returning to Capitol.
The two discs are sparsely packaged in Morello’s usual fashion, with a brief 2-page essay by Tony Byworth within an eight-page booklet reprinting the original credits but no discographical annotation. Remastering is by Alan Wilson. This three-for-one package is a must-have for Campbell collectors (even those who have the previous issues of these albums) thanks to the inclusion of “They Still Dance to Waltzes in England,” but it’s essential listening for all – and a timely reminder of the eternal musical gifts shared by the late Glen Travis Campbell.
This collection is available today in the U.K. and next Friday, September 13, in North America at the links below!
- Old Home Town
- I Love How You Love Me
- Hang On Baby (Ease My Mind)
- Blues (My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me)
- A Few Good Men
- On the Wings of My Victory
- I Was Too Busy Loving You
- A Woman’s Touch
- Mull of Kintyre
- I’ll Be Faithful to You
- (Love Always) Letter to Home
- Faithless Love
- Leavin’ Eyes
- Goodnight Lady
- After the Glitter Fades
- A Lady Like You
- Scene of the Crime
- An American Trilogy
- It’s Just a Matter of Time
- Wild Winds
- Cowboy Hall of Fame
- Rag Doll
- Come Home
- Do What You Gotta Do
- Sweet Sixteen
- Gene Autry, My Hero
- They Still Dance to Waltzes in England
CD 1, Tracks 1-10 from Old Home Town, Atlantic America LP 7 90016-1, 1982
CD 1, Tracks 11-20 from Letter to Home, Atlantic America LP 7 90461-1, 1984
CD 2, Tracks 1-10 from It’s Just a Matter of Time, Atlantic America LP 7 90483-1, 1985
CD 2, Track 11 from Atlantic (U.K.) single A 9755, 1984