Glen Campbell is best known for his chart-topping hits of two decades: the sedate countrypolitan ballads such as "Wichita Lineman" and "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" in the 1960s and radiant pop smashes like "Southern Nights" and "Rhinestone Cowboy" in the '70s. Campbell worked his way up from a highly-regarded session guitarist to a full-fledged star -- in the early 1960s he was part of the notorious LA studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew, who backed countless recording artists on countless sessions. This included the Beach Boys, who Campbell toured with as a bassist and harmony singer. Campbell's first real solo chart success came with his hit version of John Hartford's "Gentle On My Mind," a 1967 single that propelled him towards the top of the Pop charts and made him an icon of the nascent "countrypolitan" sound. Here's a quick look at his work...
Glen Campbell & The Green River Boys "Big Bluegrass Special" (Capitol, 1962)
Before hitting the bigtime, future countrypolitan star Glen Campbell cut this "bluegrass" album, with backing by Dale Fitzsimmons and Carl Tanberg of The Green River Boys. It's not really so much a bluegrass album as a bouncy set of country standards, delivered with a bland, unquashable cheerfulness reminiscent of the then-booming folk revival. Not a bad album, actually... For Glen, it was a positively rootsy outing.
Glen Campbell "Too Late To Worry, Too Blue To Cry" (Capitol, 1963)
Glen Campbell "The Astounding 12-String Guitar Of Glen Campbell" (Capitol, 1964)
Chiming in with the folk-scene sound of the time, Glen picks up the venerable 12-string guitar, a then-popular instrument that sounds great but is notoriously hard to play... He plays things pretty straight on this mostly-instrumental outing, performing one sweet, flawless song after another. It's a sedate, modest but perfectly pleasant record, with very little of the gooey over-poppification that dominated many of his '60s sets. Mostly its a showcase for his skills as a picker: it ain't easy to make a 12-string sound this clean, much less fingerpick it rather than strum. I'm impressed.
Glen Campbell "The Big Bad Rock Guitar Of Glen Campbell" (Capitol, 1965)
To be sure, Mr. Campbell was no stranger to the ways of real rock'n'roll: he was a member of the proto-surf instrumental band, The Champs, and he played a zillion rock and pop sessions as a member of the Wrecking Crew. But this instrumentals-with-vocal-chorus outing is strictly a cheesy, tongue-in-cheek easy listening send-up of a certain slice of the '60s rock scene. There's fun stuff on here, and Campbell gets in some impressive guitar licks, but the fun comes in a kitschy, nod-and-a-wink way... Since it was a Capitol release, they got dibs on some Beatles material -- his showy cover of "Ticket To Ride" was timely and kind of clever, but some tracks, like "King Of The Road" are a bit intolerable. And even on spy-jazzy songs like the James Bond theme, the over-the-top orchestrations are a bit much. Of course, that's the point: either you're into it or you're not.
Glen Campbell "Burning Bridges" (Capitol, 1967) (LP)
Glen Campbell "Gentle On My Mind" (Capitol, 1967)
Glen Campbell "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" (Capitol, 1967)
Glen Campbell "Hey Little One" (Capitol, 1968)
Glen Campbell "A New Place In The Sun" (Capitol, 1968)
Glen Campbell & Bobbie Gentry "Bobbie Gentry & Glen Campbell" (Capitol, 1968)
A collaboration with singer Bobbie Gentry...
Glen Campbell "That Christmas Feeling" (Capitol, 1968)
Glen Campbell "Wichita Lineman" (Capitol, 1968)
Glen Campbell "Galveston" (Capitol, 1969)
Glen Campbell/Elmer Bernstein "True Grit" (Soundtrack) (Capitol, 1969) (LP)
Glen Campbell "Glen Campbell Live" (Capitol, 1969)
Glen Campbell "Live In Japan" (Capitol, 1969)
Glen Campbell "Live At The Royal Festival Hall" (Capitol, 1969)
Glen Campbell "Try A Little Kindness" (Capitol, 1970)
Glen Campbell "Oh Happy Day" (Capitol, 1970)
An all-gospel album... The title track is a cover of the Edwin Hawkins gospel hit, albeit a very white cover version... Ah, Glen!
Glen Campbell "Norwood" (Soundtrack) (Capitol, 1970)
Glen Campbell "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Album" (Capitol, 1970)
Glen Campbell "The Last Time I Saw Her" (Capitol, 1971)
Glen Campbell & Anne Murray "Anne Murray/Glen Campbell" (Capitol, 1971)
Wait -- was Glen Campbell responsible for making Anne Murray a star in America? Well, the Canadian soft-pop songbird had already had several hits before pairing up with Campbell on this mellow outing... But she was a regular performer on his nationwide TV show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which, sadly, helped her build her career in the States. Oh, well. Nobody's perfect. We forgive you, Glen.
Glen Campbell "The Artistry Of Glen Campbell" (Capitol, 1972) (LP)
Glen Campbell "Glen Travis Campbell" (Capitol, 1972)
Glen Campbell "I Knew Jesus (Before He Was A Star)" (Capitol, 1973)
Glen Campbell "I Remember Hank Williams" (Capitol, 1973)
Glen Campbell "Houston (I'm Comin' To See You)" (Capitol, 1974)
Glen Campbell "Reunion: The Songs Of Jimmy Webb" (Capitol, 1974)
Glen Campbell & Tennessee Ernie Ford "Ernie Sings & Glen Picks" (Capitol, 1975)
Glen Campbell "Rhinestone Cowboy" (Capitol, 1975)
Glen Campbell "Bloodline" (Capitol, 1976)
Glen Campbell "Southern Nights" (Capitol, 1977)
Glen Campbell "Basic" (Capitol, 1978)
Glen Campbell "Highwayman" (Capitol, 1979)
Hick Music Index