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Glen Campbell in Concert
Image Entertainment/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 61 mins . G . PAL

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Hmm. Let me guess, you all think the life of a reviewer is filled with champagne, superstars and all manner of our favourite discs being showered upon us, right? Well, perhaps cheap cask wine, a single well-worn divot on the couch and a pile of unreviewed stuff that generally has a couple of titles that instil fear within you at sight would be a little more accurate - at least around these here parts (oh goodness, this country thing is affecting me already). It is from this frightening category that Glen Campbell in Concert has been plucked, after all SOMEBODY had to do it and the guys all let me down, and I did kind of grow up with the man’s work courtesy of my Mum’s sometimes questionable taste in music. So, it’s time to throw any cool points I may have accrued during my life to the wind and get on with it...

For those who have little, or no, idea who Glen Campbell is, he’s a Phoenix, Arizona chap who looks and sounds remarkably like a Good Ol’ Boy – in fact I kept expect him to say “it’s gonna be hard eatin’ corn on the cob with no BLEEPin’ teeth”, but curiously enough he never did. His group is called the Goodtime Band, however, so it is kinda close I guess. Many will know him as a singer, and the fact that he has quite a decent set of pipes on him has certainly not harmed this reputation, however he first came to prominence as a guitarist – and anybody who can play The William Tell Overture (the theme from The Lone Ranger) as fast as he does here must be a damned good one. In the ‘60s he did session work for many a shining star, from the likes of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole to the Beach Boys and one Elvis Presley. He was even the guitarist of choice for renowned producer/nutter Phil Spector, appearing on most anything the man ever recorded. And he did it without a gun to his head, too... A solo career soon bloomed, and Glen has gone on to sell over 40 million records worldwide in a long-running and remarkably successful career.

This here little programme was recorded for the US television network PBS in 2001, and features Glen, his band and the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra. Now let’s face it, you could put an orchestra behind somebody as hideously shocking as Celine Dion and they’d sound better, right? Erm... on second thoughts...

Anyway, what follows is a well-chosen collection covering most of his well known hits, and you may be surprised just how many of the tracks here will sound familiar. Songs such as his breakaway hit Gentle On My Mind, Galveston, Wichita Lineman (which our very own Clouds covered magnificently a few years ago – there, I get some cool points back!), Southern Nights and his massive hit which surely everybody knows, Rhinestone Cowboy (a favourite song of Radiohead, that they have been known to cover – yay, more points back!). Elsewhere he brings out his daughter Debby for a duet on another favourite, Little Green Apples, lets loose on Classical Gas (Lenny from The Simpsons will be a happy man) and even drags out the bagpipes for a run through that old chestnut Amazing Grace. And as well as having me to deal with, anybody who claims bagpipes are uncool should just think of Acca Dacca, Macca and Jebediah (they must use Clearasil, they don’t have any accas!)...

In all it’s a tightly packed show, launching straight into proceedings and with plenty of entertaining chat between songs. Any fan of Glen Campbell should be in absolute heaven with this release. It may be of recent vintage, but I daresay anybody who even dares suggest that his talent has diminished may be facing a somewhat hefty dentistry bill...

That track listing in full goes a little something like this...

Wichita Lineman
Gentle On My Mind
Dreams of the Everyday Housewife
(The) Highway Man
By the Time I Get to Phoenix
Classical Gas
It’s Only Make Believe
Little Green Apples
Southern Nights
Rhinestone Cowboy
Galveston
Since I Fell for You
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
The William Tell Overture
True Grit
Still Within the Sound of My Voice
Amazing Grace

  Video
  Audio
  Extras
Contract

The bad news visually? It’s in full frame and you may notice some slight aliasing on rare occasions – after all, there are guitar strings on prominent display. The good news? Basically everything else. Shot to video, things look simply sumptuous – beautifully saturated colours, detail to spare and clean and crisp all around. With regular audience shots shadow detail could have been a worry, but no, it is handled very well.

Popping over to the audio department, we have a rather quiet Dolby Digital stereo mix, plus a comparatively rather loud Dolby Digital 5.1 one. The first was sampled only briefly, as it all sounded quite flat, and besides, when you have a 5.1 mix that’s this clean and crystal clear then why bother with the lesser format? As all good live presentations should do, when it comes to the rear channels this 5.1 mix adheres to the rule of the two seven letter ‘a’ words that both end in ‘ience’ – delivering ambience and audience without playing funny buggers with the music. The only real let down is that there’s very little in the way of subwoofwoof action, however most probably won’t even notice.

There are actually a few extras, the most substantial being a five bonus tracks totalling over 20 minutes in running time, all with both 2.0 and 5.1 available. These are a medley of Don’t Pull Your Love and Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye, plus Macarthur Park, Let It Be Me, Time in a Bottle and another big Campbell hit, Try a Little Kindness. They are from the same show, so it seems curious that they have been included separately like this, however they can at least be played in one long flowing lump rather than having to be selected separately. Next up is a fairly substantial Making of special, which runs for just under 20 minutes and in what was quite a surprise also includes 5.1 sound as well as 2.0. This combines the usual kind of stuff such as interviews with Glen and many in his orbit (all saying smooshy nice things, of course) and rehearsal footage, and should delight fans. Rounding out the package are a photo gallery with 14 stills from the show, all cropped to look widescreen, a selective discography and an eight page biography which isn’t overly informative, and is a pain in the eyes to read as it shimmers more than Liberace’s wardrobe.

As intimated up above somewhere, fans of Glen Campbell should be a’whoopin’ and a’hollerin’ down at their local DVD corrals for this one, as it’s a very well presented disc both technically and content-wise.

Now, can anybody spare a few cool points? Please?!


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  •   And I quote...
    "Any fan of Glen Campbell should be in absolute heaven with this release, a very well presented disc both technically and content-wise... "
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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