Three-album taste of Jimmy’s range and skill. By Danny Eccleston.
ORCH-POP IN EXTREMIS Richard Harris A Tramp Shining
Unlike any other album in the world ever, this is the sound of two ebullient, baroque personalities (Webb writes everything, produces, arranges; Richard Harris, off the back of musical success with Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot, emotes to the edge of his vocal ability and beyond) egging each other on. MacArthur Park’s epic hymn to romance spoiled and lost forever presides, but If You Must Leave My Life is like Bacharach gone ballistic.
THE SOLO HIGH-FLIER Jimmy Webb El Mirage
All of Webb’s ’70s solo albums have something going for them, but this is the only one where his singing voice feels entirely comfortable (credit producer George Martin, giving it loads of America). Apologies to Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson & co, but Webb’s opening take on The Highwayman is the definitive performance and If You See Me Getting Smaller I’m Leaving is another of his great ‘my funny old career’ songs (cf. Song Seller from 1972’s Letters).
THE OLD FIRM MATCH Glen Campbell And Jimmy Webb In Session
Every home should have a ’60s Campbell best-of, embracing widescreen, Webb-penned smashes Galveston, Wichita Lineman, By The Time I Get To Phoenix and Where’s The Playground Susie?, but this late, Songbook-style collaboration is beautifully intimate, with the country giant’s once silken delivery made vulnerable by age and oncoming Alzheimer’s. Galveston, a song about memory and more, is unspeakably poignant. Adieu to a classic combination.