Glen Campbell: Sings for the King
UMe (LP, CD)
By Ray Chelstowski
Just when you thought that we knew all there was to know about Elvis, a new collection emerges of Presley songs by none other than Glen Campbell. Glen’s passing cast a well-earned light on how prolific he was in the 1960s; working with the legendary Wrecking Crew on scores of hits, subbing for Brian Wilson in The Beach Boys, even appearing with Sinatra on Strangers in the Night. Well, it turns out he also did quite a bit of “spec work” for the King. Between 1964 and 1968 he recorded full versions of songs exclusively for Elvis to consider recording himself. This unique approach to reviewing material becomes even more stunning when you listen to how fully developed each track really is. The entire process was another Presley indulgence. All tracks were written by Ben Weisman and Sid Wayne, the writing team that Elvis turned to the most recording 57 of their songs. 29 tracks were recovered from these Campbell sessions, and 12 were picked to become Sings For The King.
What’s most striking about the record is how similar Campbell and Presley were in terms of their singing styles, intonation and phrasing. While Campbell’s voice was of a higher pitch, at times it’s almost indistinguishable from a young Presley. That’s largely where the wonder ends. These songs seem dated even for the late '60s, and the title track from the film Clambake, one of the few that Elvis actually did record is a metaphor for the unfortunate turn his music took during his movie career. His decision to largely scrap the Campbell sessions and instead to turn to Memphis for material led to Elvis recording some of his most powerful and moving music. Sings for the King is a great piece of nostalgia, but leaves nothing really of note.
Read about a lot more Elvis releases — our year end 'Elvis Roundup' — by picking up the latest issue of Goldmine, on the newsstand now (select Barnes & Noble, Books A Million and indie record stores) until January 7.