CD Country/Bluegrass Review

Glen Campbell’s The Early Years

Title: The Early Years

Label: Jasmine

We all know Campbell, don’t we? His hits are still played on national radio while the best of them remain the core of many cover versions. Classics such as By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, Galveston, Rhinestone Cowboy and Southern Nights remain a staple of country pop.

Many music fans don’t know too much about Campbell before that. OK, Beach Boys followers will know about his association with the group via his membership of the famed Wrecking Crew but, apart from that?

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Campbell began is solo career under a pseudonym. As Billy Dolton, in 1961, he appeared as a bubblegum pop artist with a rock’n’roll swagger singing choice cuts such as Winkie Doll and Girls. You get the general idea. ‘Coming out’ as Glenn Campbell, Valley Of Death (Death Valley) was a story song that hit the Top 100. As a solo artist, he was still to make his mark so the diversion into a group structure was no surprise. Knowing about his later Beach Boys connection, the surf guitar style was almost to be expected. The Gee Cees’ Buzz Saw included Jerry Cole and will shock any Campbell fan used to his easy going country/pop antics. This is Campbell with no little attitude.

Glen-Campbell

Next? And there is a next. In fact, no end of ‘nexts’. Next was the Fleas, a formal name for Ricky Nelson’s backing group (after The Jordanaires went a-walking). Scratchin’ is Nelson-esque in style and delivery. The Fleas turned into The Trophies. As such, Desire could have been an early Four Seasons track. Light, harmonic and full of non-sensical background vocalese.

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It was when he later joined The Green River Boys, the sound took a distinct bluegrass flavour. The fames ‘lost’ bluegrass classic, the band’s Big Bluegrass Special is included in full here.

A superb collection of early Glen Campbell fare. Essential for all Campbell fans but also to those interested in music history.

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