Release Date: Aug 13, 2013
Record label: Surfdog Records
Genre(s): Country, Pop/Rock
In the two years since Campbell revealed he was suffering from Alzheimer’s he’s undertaken a lengthy farewell tour, released the reflective and heartbreaking Ghost On The Canvas, and now this second, presumably final, album. Realistically, he may be facing the dark oblivion of a vicious illness, but has, to all intents and purposes, had the unusual opportunity to soundtrack his own decline. Recorded during sessions for Ghost…, See You There isn’t such a pronounced study of mortality as that album, and is more geared towards revisiting past triumphs.
Albums by venerable singers revisiting their own classics can sometimes pale by comparison with the originals, but Glen Campbell's Alzheimer's disease and a slight tremor in his voice has given new meaning to beautifully intimate renditions of the likes of Rhinestone Cowboy and By the Time I Get to Phoenix. Recorded in 2011, the year of his diagnosis, lines such as "I'm so afraid of dying" (from Galveston, originally penned about a soldier) now pack an eerie but humbling poignancy. Equally affecting are songs that now seem to offer comforting messages to those he will leave behind.
Glen Campbell originally recorded the songs on See You There back in 2011 during his Ghost on the Canvas sessions. The more recent release features new, stripped-down versions of some of his most popular singles, this time without the lush strings and countrypolitan production of his youth. His voice has also aged. Campbell used to sound preternaturally young.
Back when I was fresh out of university, I took a temporary job working for Northamptonshire County Council in their social care learning and development department. The job was pretty much entirely administration, and as such I didn’t see much of what my colleagues and the health care providers I got do know did on a daily basis. A handful of people I got to know as friends worked closely with elderly patients suffering from mental illness on a daily basis, and would tell difficult anecdotes strewn with the most unbearable heartache: not only is there the sadness of seeing a person losing touch with their world, but the grief and anguish of patients’ families and carers seeing someone who may have been part of their entire lives unable to recognise their loved ones.
Glen Campbell's last LP, 2011's surprising Ghost on the Canvas, set him up impressively with songs by Paul Westerberg, Robert Pollard and other offspring. This set combines new songs with remakes of Campbell's signature singles. Surprise again: What could be a late-game throwaway instead has near-definitive versions of "Wichita Lineman," "Galveston" and "Gentle on My Mind," conjuring the originals with a patina of age and minus the arrangement lard.
Glen CampbellSee You There(Surfdog)Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars This “might be final” album — Campbell’s well publicized Alzheimer’s diagnosis pretty much guarantees that — consists of new renditions of the singer/guitarist’s hits spliced with recently recorded vocals without much input from it star. On the surface, it seems like a studio concocted, cash grabbing, wince- inducing creep fest. Surprisingly the results are pretty great and even if they won’t make you forget the often charmingly dated originals, it’s cool to hear these songs stripped down without the syrupy orchestrations and bloated slick pop arrangements that made them such beloved radio mainstays over the years.
If you are one of these people whose throats constrict upon hearing the words "I am a lineman for the county", Glen Campbell's latest album may prove a wobbly listen. Campbell, 77, one of the lions of American popular music, has rerecorded a number of his best known songs alongside a clutch of outtakes from 2011's Ghost on the Canvas album sessions; vocal tracks that have since acquired no-fuss arrangements. Wichita Lineman and Rhinestone Cowboy, for two, are stripped down to barely more than guitar and vocal.
When an artist is conscious that his/her time is limited, the big question becomes how to bow out gracefully. It's been known since 2011 that Glen Campbell has Alzheimer's, and from that moment the push was on to pay tribute to one of the great all-around musicians and song interpreters. It led to Ghost on the Canvas, a brilliant American Recordings-style record of contemporary covers that set the stage for Campbell's farewell tour.
Anyone with a family member or close friend suffering with Alzheimer’s disease in their twilight years can do nothing but applaud See You There, Glen Campbell’s reinterpretation of some of his classic songs. At 77 and living with this debilitating condition, that Campbell could come up with something quite as touching as this album is remarkable in itself. Much of the credit should go to producers Dave Kaplan and Dave Darling who took the vocals Campbell laid down for many of his cherished hits while recording his 2011 album, Ghost on the Canvas, and knitted together what you can now hear on See You There.
Ghost on the Canvas was designed and promoted as Glen Campbell's farewell album but, unbeknownst to all who were not in the studio, the country legend also recorded a bunch of new vocals to old hits (plus a couple of curious deep cuts) during those 2011 recording sessions. Producers Dave Darling and Dave Kaplan then took these vocals, added new instrumentation, and released the whole shebang as 2013's See You There. Darling and Kaplan may refer to the Rick Rubin/Johnny Cash playbook, but See You There isn't an exercise in noir nostalgia.
Too often when veteran artists revisit career-defining hits late in life it's more of a marketing move than an artistic exploration. Not in this case. Since revealing two years ago that he's been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, the singer-guitarist and former TV show host released his well-received "Ghost on the Canvas" album and went on the road one last time for a farewell tour.
“See You There” comprises new versions of seven Glen Campbell classics, fleshed out by a handful of tracks from the sessions for his last record, “Ghost on the Canvas. ” Campbell laid down new vocals on his old hits during the “Ghost” sessions; his label owner subsequently added instrumentation. The results in no way surpass those towering originals — how could they, when songs such as “Wichita Lineman” and “Galveston” are towering peaks on the map of popular music? These new takes do offer some worthy alternative perspectives: “Hey Little One” is given a slower, almost stately pace, “Gentle on My Mind” a rawer sound; “Galveston” comes in stripped-down, resonating form, and gains a reflective element courtesy of touches of accordion.