Saturday, October 14, 2017

Rhinestone Cowboy, Streets of London

The fires are still raging but the East Bay smoke has cleared a little... at least I can breathe without crying today. Before the haze returns, let's fire off an anniversary special that doubles as a memorial tribute to a recently departed luminary.
Our Saturday hero left us a few weeks ago after a career spanning over 50 years and a whole host of beloved tunes. He was also one of the truly monster guitar pickers with whom we'll ever share our Earth time.
An integral part of the celebrated 1960s LA session Mafia dubbed The Wrecking Crew, he plays on about ten million Sixties hits as well as his own songs and ones he's interpreted to make famous.
As if all that wasn't impressive enough, he also subbed for Brian Wilson in the Beach Boys for several tours. This guy got around, didn't he? I think he holds the record for TV variety shows, performing and hosting them.
One of the most popular and beloved musicians of our lifetimes, can there be any argument? I can remember hearing him on the radio from early childhood. When I was a child I really loved Galveston, one of his Jimmy Webb-penned place-name smashes. Shucks, I was anti-war even at age 3!
Perhaps his finest hour came at the very end of his life, when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and embarked on an extensive and well-documented Farewell tour before he slipped away in August.
And oh-emm-gee, could he strangle a six-string. And toggle a twelve. At the height of his considerable powers, he may have been the hottest guitar player on the planet. The only word that comes to me is blazing. Fretmelting too. OK, two words.
It boils down to the fact that Glen Campbell was and is one of the most adored musos of our lifetimes, any way you swing it. Don't be fooled by the pop success or ascribe one-dimensionality on its behalf.
When he passed a couple of months ago, I immediately thought of this BBC special from 1977 I had seen back when I was a kid somehow. I didn't have it and it really doesn't circulate in any archival form, but lucky for us the BBC fired it up a few days after Glen's death and someone captured it as an HD file off of their site before it disappeared again into the aether.
This is a Goodtime Hour and a Half for certain, with the man performing all his big chartcrushers in front of a band marshalled by Jimmy Webb himself, plus the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the pit. And yes, it was taped for television precisely forty years ago tonight.
Glen Campbell
"An Evening With Glen Campbell"
Royal Festival Hall
London, UK

01 Rhinestone Cowboy
02 Dreams of the Everyday Housewife
03 Where's the Playground, Susie?
04 If You Go Away
05 Wichita Lineman
06 Good Vibrations
07 Help Me Rhonda
08 Surfer Girl
09 Surfin' USA
10 Turn Around, Look At Me
11 Try a Little Kindness
12 Didn't We
13 Soliloquy
14 That's When the Music Takes Me
15 Streets of London
16 Classical Gas
17 William Tell Overture
18 Southern Nights
19 God Only Knows
20 By the Time I Get to Phoenix
21 Galveston
22 This Is Sarah's Song
23 MacArthur Park
24 Amazing Grace

Total time: 1:18:26

Glen Campbell – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bagpipes
George Green – drums
Carl Jackson – acoustic and electric guitars, banjo
T.J. Kuenster – piano
Bill McCubbin – bass
Fred Tackett – acoustic guitar
Billie Barnum, Ann White & Stephanie Spruill – background vocals
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Alan Aynsworth & Jimmy Webb, conductors

960p mp4 file of a 1977 TV special, captured from the BBC website soon after Glen's 2017 passing
I shall return with more memorial musings next weekend, but right now it's time to remember this iconic singer and player who brought so much joy to so many people for such a long period. Pull down this great concert -- it was also released as a record back in the day -- recorded four decades ago and see why Glen Campbell was so on target ;D--J.
4.22.1936 - 8.8.2017

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