Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Glen Campbell: Ghost On The Canvas

Growing up in our household in the late 1970s and early 1980s I was introduced to lots of different kinds of pop music, my brother, who is four years older than me would listen to metal, punk and prog rock. My parents who had their teenage years in the late 1950s and early 1960s would listen to country music.

So my musical tastes were and always have been quite diverse, one of the artists I was introduced to from an early age was American country pop singer Glen Campbell.

Campbell's musical career started at the end of the '50s as a session musician, his guitar skills can be heard on many classic pop tracks, he was a part of Phil Spector's Wall Of Sound, and he played on the Beach Boys' seminal 1966 album Pet Sounds, and toured with them when Brian Wilson was unable to join the rest of the band due to his declining mental health.

He was later offered a contract with Capitol records and after a few false starts had a string of hits throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Wichita Lineman and Galveston.

During the 1980s and 1990s Campbell's stardom had faded somewhat, not helped by drug and alcohol addictions.

He made a cameo in Clint Eastwood's Every Which Way But Loose, which he also provided the theme for.

He later gave up his addictions and became a born again christian.

In 2008 he was persuaded by Julian Raymond to return to Capitol and record an album of covers of more contemporary artists, illogically called Meet Glen Campbell.

Campbell revealed in June of this year that he had Alzheimer's disease, and that he planned to make one more album and go out on the road for a farewell tour.

Ghost On The Canvas goes back to the sound that made Campbell a star, the trademark tremolo guitar sound is there. The album features a list of guest artists including Dick Dale, Chris Isaak and Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins.

Lyrically at times it's very moving, the title track and Any Trouble are the sound of a man who has come to terms with his situation and is prepared to fight on rather than just give up.

One of the highlights for me is a cover of one of my all time favourite songs, Hold On Hope, originally by Guided By Voices, a song by a band that you would never automatically think of as ripe for a cover by a country music veteran, but it's a perfect fit.

As the final release in a career that has spanned over fifty years this is a fitting tribute to an artist who brought country music to the masses.

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