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 Jimmy Webb

American singer-songwriter

Jim Webb Sings Jim Webb (1968)

Words and Music (1970)

And So On (1971)

Letters (1972)

Land's End (1974)

El Mirage (1977)

Angel Heart (1982)

Suspending Disbelief (1993)

Ten Easy Pieces (1996)

Twilight of the Renegades (2005)

Live and at Large in the UK (2007)

Related Albums

Magic Garden - Fifth Dimension

Tramp Shining - Richard Harris

The Yard Went on Forever - Richard Harris

My Boy - Richard Harris

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Webb

 

Jim Webb Sings Jim Webb
Words and Music - 5

Sleepin' In the Daytime/ P.F. Sloan/ Love Song/ Careless Weed/ Psalm One-Five-O/ Music for an Unmade Movie - Song Seller/ Music for an Unmade Movie - Dorothy Chandler Blues/ Music for an Unmade Movie - Jerusalem/ Three Songs - Let It Be Me, Never My Love, I Wanna Be Free/ Once Before I Die.

This album has the feel that Jimmy Webb doesn't quite know where to go with a singing career. When it comes to song writing the man is one of the great geniuses, but when it comes to singing his own material - well let's say that early on it was better left to the interpretation of others. That's not to say that at times Jimmy couldn't interpret his own material as well as others, but on Words and Music he really does struggle. His voice, which much later in his career would take on a much better timbre, is sadly lack lustre and far too guttural. It's almost as if Webb was saving his best material for others and leaving himself with some odds and ends. Love Song and Careless Weed are perfect example of  good songs that would improve with better handling. On the latter Webb really struggles to reach the notes and his voice isn't idiosyncratic or original enough to survive lack of tonality. The album is also rather introverted and the material needed to be of a higher quality.

 

And So On - 5.5

Met Her on a Plane/ All Night Show/ All My Love's Laughter, Highpockets/ Marionette/ Laspitch/ One Lady/ If Ships Were Made to Sail/ Pocketful of Keys/ See You Then

The question about And So On is whether the songs would be stronger. To have to say this about one of the great songwriters of the 20th (and 21st) centuries is rather sad. Not surprisingly Words and Music didn't sell well and anybody expecting epics in the MacArthur Park mould would again be disappointed, although there was a marked improvement here with the likes of Met Her On A Plane and All My Love's Laughter being fully fledged Webb ballads. The problem is that when he tried to go up tempo on songs like All Night Show and Highpockets, the result was throwaway horrible tracks. Highpockets is a particular example of Webb trying too hard. A harsh intro and verse gives away to a  velvety chorus that just doesn't work. Marionette is a pretty song, but Laspitch is hard and unworthy. One Lady is decent and If Ships Were Made to Sail was destined to become one of Webb's best songs. But it's so much better in the hands of Scott Walker. Overall it's an improvement on Words and Music - but only just

 

Letters - 6

Galveston/ Campo de Encino/ Love Hurts/ Simile/ Hurt Me Well/ Once in the Morning/ Catharsis/ Song Seller/ When Can Brown Begin/ Piano

The improvement in Jimmy's solo efforts continued with Letters. The opening track Galveston is an interesting one. The Glen Campbell version is universally known but here we have a sparse Webb version which takes it from the commercial song we know into a more folk territory and this time it works. I remember buying Campo de Encino as a single and not really liking it. Over the years it has grown on me and is one of Webb's more enduring songs which gives way to a reasonable version of Love Hurts - although I'm not quite sure why Webb broke out into covering other people's material when he couldn't have had a shortage of his own. There's an alternative version of Song Seller which originally appeared on Words and Music and then a couple of excellent Webb numbers - When Can Brown Begin which was recorded brilliantly by The Supremes and Piano

 

Land's End - 7

Ocean in His Eyes/ Feet in the Sunshine/ Cloudman/ Lady Fits Her Blue Jeans/ Just This One Time/ Crying in My Sleep/ It's A Sin/ Alyce Blue Gown/ Lands End, Asleep on the Wind

This is more typical Jimmy Webb material than his previous solo efforts. Gone are many of the ordinary traits to be replaced by something a little more satisfying. There seems to be a much greater form and structure about these songs with Ocean in His Eyes, Cloudman, Just This One Time and Crying in My Sleep all being solid offerings. The album is worth the money for the last two tracks which combine to give a pastoral feel to things - beginning with Lands End and morphing into Asleep on the Wind. It's semi classical, semi rock and works extremely well, being a good vehicle for the songwriter's vocals.

 

El Mirage

The Highwayman/ If You See Me Getting Smaller I'm Leaving/ Mixed up Guy/ Christiaan No/ Moment in a Shadow/ Sugarbird/ Where the Universes Are/ P.F Sloan/ Dance to the Radio/ The Moon's A Harsh Mistress/ Skylark (A Meditation)

Angel Heart
Suspending Disbelief
Ten Easy Pieces

Twilight of the Renegades  - 7.5

Paul Gauguin in the South Seas/Skywriter/Why Do I Have To.../Class Clown/Spanish Radio/Time Flies/How Quickly/High Rent Ghetto/She Moves.../Just Like Marilyn/No Signs of Age/Driftwood

A beautiful album of soaring songs that will delight the many fans of Jimmy Webb both as a singer and supreme songwriter. It starts with the remarkable Paul Gauguin in the South Seas where he manages to squeeze out a memorable tune whilst telling an historical story of the artist's later years. This is Jimmy Webb at his inventive best. Skywriter is a beautiful ballad that oozes class. After that some of the other tracks are understandably lighter in nature but there's plenty of life and beauty here - not the least in the exceptionally emotional songs "She Moves and Eyes Follow" and "No Signs of Age." Jimmy doesn't release too many solo albums and there was a 12 year gap between the disappointing Suspending Disbelief and this one. Twilight of the Renegades sees Jimmy in reflective mood with swooping highs and, thankfully not too many lows.

 

Live and at Large in the UK (2007) - 7

My love of the songs of Jimmy Webb goes back to my teenage years. A superb songwriter, I have always preferred other people's interpretations of his own songs. Indeed Jimmy seems to be aware of the shortfalls in his own voice. But over the years he has developed a laid back and self deprecating style with his live albums. This is the best to date. Jimmy has an easy-going style that pulls the audience into his world and this album follows on the success of Twilight of the Renegades - his last studio release. There is much to be admired here. Jimmy lets us into his world of friends and renegades and talks with great enthusiasm about the likes of Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Art Garfunmel, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Richard Harris and all the other people who "have swum up stream." Musically his voice has now reached a decent pitch and seems to be smoother than in previous offerings. Above all it is the charm of the man that stands out in an interesting collection. Along with old favourites like Wichita Lineman, Didn't We, All I  Know and Galveston comes more contemporary pieces like Paul Gauguin in the South Seas and Time Flies. Sadly the only let down on the whole album is a rather pedestrian and long drawn out MacArthur Park that is just too slow for comfort. Overall another marvellous insight into the world of a songwriting genius.