Monday, November 19, 2012

Today's Vinyl Flashback

In the past few weeks, I've picked up the occasional vinyl LP just because (a) it looked interesting, (b) it featured an artist who has produced other work that I liked, and (c) it was in remarkable condition for its age. Friday, I picked up Glen Campbell's Gentle On My Mind--which, as it turns out, was his seventh album release but his first album to chart (it came in at number one on the Billboard Country Albums chart for two weeks in 1967, and made it to fifth place in the Billboard Top 200 albums during that same period). The copy I found was so pristine that it seems like it could have been issued last week: clean, white back cover, sharp colors on the front, no corner or edge wear, and an album (complete with the Capitol Records black label with the rainbow border) that was absolutely pristine.

I listened to the album today and was absolutely fascinated; while this album was considered country in 1967, were it issued today there would be nothing about it that would fit into the country music genre other than Campbell's vocal accent (and it's not that strong on any of the songs). The album opens with his first big hit, "Gentle on My Mind," which is one of John Hartford's best compositions--and a song that I've heard many, many times over the years. However, on this album, the sound seems more open, the stereo more wide than in the later issues. Just to verify that, I pulled out a 1970s Glen Campbell's Greatest Hits and a CD version of The Best of Glen Campbell and it turned out my memory was correct--in both cases, the version of "Gentle on My Mind" was a more traditional mix with the bulk of the sound centered in the sound field rather than being pushed as widely to the left and right channels.

The rest of the album consisted of Glen Campbell covers with which I was unfamiliar. One of my favorites was his take on Donovan's "Catch the Wind," one of my favorite songs; he brings to it the honesty and introspection that the song deserves. There's also a great cover version of Harry Nilsson's "Without Her," a song that sounds so distinctively Glen-Campbell-esque in his version that I'm amazed it didn't become a major hit. He also does a fine job with Roy Orbison's "Cryin'" as he brings his empassioned, fervent vocal style to play in fine form. My favorite unknown song, though, was "Mary in the Morning," a song I know I'll listen to again and again.

45 years later, this album is every bit as engaging as it was when it was first released, and the sound is impeccable--rich, full-range instrumentation, well-placed stereo, clean vocals, and the crisp Glen Campbell guitar that made him such a popular session man before he became a solo star. Quite a find for only $3!

1 comment:

JaniceG said...

I actually owned this album but have no idea what became of it. I also really like the rarely heard "Mary in the Morning"