Thursday, January 19, 2012

Glen Campbell: "Live In Japan" (1975/2012 re-issue) CD Review

Glen Campbell's 1975 record Live In Japan is finally being released in the United States. It's really surprising that this album was not previously available here (except as an import from Japan). After all, his previous live record, 1969's Glen Campbell Live, reached #2 on the country chart.

Glen Campbell is currently on his final tour. As most people are probably by now aware, Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease last year, and that is the reason this will be his final tour. He also released a new album, Ghost On The Canvas, in August of last year. So while you're getting ready to see Glen Campbell for the last time, you can check out this live record from 37 years ago, with Campbell's glorious mix of country and pop. He chooses some great tunes to cover, including songs by John Denver and Mac Davis, and of course a few by Jimmy Webb.

"Intro/I Believe In Music"

An orchestral instrumental intro leads to a bright burst of pop as Glen Campbell comes in with "I Believe In Music." Yes, it does feel a bit cheesy all these decades later, but it's wonderful in all its cheesy glory. And the audience is loving it, clapping along. "I believe in music/And I believe in love/Well, music is love and love is music/If you know what I mean/Everybody that believes in music/Are the happiest people I've ever seen." So true.

"I Believe In Music" was written by Mac Davis, and was the title track of his 1971 release.

"It's Only Make Believe"

I love the song "It's Only Make Believe." Some people say that all the best love songs are the unrequited ones, and this song might be all the proof those folks need. And this is that rare unrequited love song in which the people in question are actually a couple, as the first lines show: "People see us everywhere/They think you really care." While some folks might want to get out of a situation like that one, this song's protagonist wishes that his love would become truly involved: "My only prayer will be that someday you'll care for me/But it's only make believe." This song builds like some of the best Roy Orbison tunes. It's a fantastic song, and Glen Campbell does a great job with it.

"It's Only Make Believe" was written by Conway Twitty and Jack Nance, and released as a single by Conway Twitty in 1958 (reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100). Glen Campbell's version, released as a single in 1970, reached #10.


A different kind of love song is "Lovelight," written by bass player Billy Graham and Glen Castleberry. This one begins, "There were two people/Who loved each other/They had it all together/Then something happened/To all their good times/Somehow their laughter/Turned into cry time." This song has such a good beat and energy that you somehow get the feeling that maybe things will work out for this couple.

"I Honestly Love You"

I honestly love Olivia Newton-John, and Glen Campbell does a good job on his version of "I Honestly Love You," a song originally included on Newton-John's 1974 record, If You Love Me, Let Me Know. This is a beautiful song, written by Peter Allen and Jeff Barry. (By the way, if you don't own that Olivia Newton-John record, it's worth checking out - she covers the Beach Boys tune "God Only Knows.") The following year, 1976, Glen Campbell hosted a television special with Olivia Newton-John called Down Home, Down Under.

"Annie's Song"

John Denver is one of the world's best songwriters, and "Annie's Song" is so pretty. It's clear that Glen Campbell loves John Denver as much as I do, from his earnest, delicate rendition of this wonderful song. For those who don't recognize the song by its title, it's the one that starts, "You fill up my senses like a night in the forest/Like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain." Beautiful.

"Song For Y'All"

"Song For Y'All" was written by guitarist/banjo player Carl Jackson. Glen jokes about it in the song's introduction, calling it a country version of Leon Russell's "A Song For You." But what it is is a damn fine and fast bluegrass instrumental.

Hits Medley

The medley on this album doesn't do it for me. You only get a bit of "Try A Little Kindness" and "Gentle On My Mind." I'd prefer to hear the entire songs. But of course this is how he did it then.

"William Tell Overture"

The band gets to show off with a seriously cool western version of the "William Tell Overture." I've always thought this was a fun tune, and this rendition really captures the great spirit of the piece.

The album then concludes with the always wonderful "Amazing Grace." (No matter how many times I hear this song, I can only recall the first verse when I try to sing it.)

CD Track List
  1. Intro/I Believe In Music
  2. Galveston
  3. It's Only Make Believe
  4. Lovelight
  5. I Honestly Love You
  6. Annie's Song
  7. Song For Y'all
  8. Coming Home (To Meet My Brother)
  9. Try To Remember/The Way We Were
  10. Hits Medley: By The Time I Get To Phoenix/Try A Little Kindness/Wichita Lineman/Honey Come back/Gentle On My Mind
  11. My Way
  12. William Tell Overture
  13. Amazing Grace
Live In Japan is scheduled to be released on January 24, 2012 through Real Gone Music. Again, this is the album's first United States release.

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