1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In The Presence Of Genius
The title of this review is not a mistake. I did not mean to call it "In The Presence Of A Genius" and omitted the qualifying "a." To me, genius is something that either visits you or not, rather than something that any artist can take credit for owning and having developed out of will and skill alone. This album -in which Webb has chosen to interpret...
Published on Jan. 11 2004 by Juan Mobili
1.0 out of 5 stars If you like the songs, stay away from this recording!
I feel bad being negative about this CD, but it really [stinks]. I love the Glen Campbell versions of "Galveston" and "Wichita Lineman" and was hoping this recording would add something to those songs, being interpreted by the songwriter, but it's a big disapointment. If this had been recorded when the songs were written (late 1960's, early 70's)...
Published on May 16 2001 by SCOTT BENNETT
Most Helpful First | Newest First
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In The Presence Of Genius,
This review is from: Ten Easy Pieces (Audio CD)The title of this review is not a mistake. I did not mean to call it "In The Presence Of A Genius" and omitted the qualifying "a." To me, genius is something that either visits you or not, rather than something that any artist can take credit for owning and having developed out of will and skill alone. This album -in which Webb has chosen to interpret most of his famous songs accompanied by himself on the piano and some occasional, exquisite strings- is a journal of these visitations of graceful and undaunted creativity. For the sake of evidence, consider this: between 1966 and 1969 alone, he was responsible for writing such classics as "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman," "Up Up and Away," "MacArthur Park," and "Didn't We." The man composed all these beauties between the ages of 20 to 23! And, as impressive as this is, the fact that a single person wrote them all, even if they were dispersed along his whole career, would still constitute a musical miracle. But the wonders don't end there -with the startling recognition of such young man having the maturity to conceive amazing songs while still a babe- Webb is a great singer in his own right and a sensitive pianist too. His renditions offer a profound insight into a composer's vision of his work and rival its wonderful counterparts by Glen Campbell or Isaac Hayes, among others. This is a true gem, melodies gifted by wonderful words, and wonderful words brought to life by incomparable melodies. I've read that Burt Bacharach has been Webb's idol all his life, which in part may not be surprising after listening to this CD, yet it may also be said that Bacharach could be a fan of Jimmy Webb, if the consistent, profound quality of these songs is any indication of it. It's more accurate to say that you can consider Jimmy Webb Burt's peer: another landmark in American Pop music. So, get it now, either because you'll be in for an amazing array of delightfully composed songs, or because you'll encounter the radiance of genius' visitations on a young man.
5.0 out of 5 stars ....,
This review is from: Ten Easy Pieces (Audio CD)This is quite possibly the best easy listening c.d's I have heard in a long time. Jimmy Webb is an icon when it comes to writing and all these songs were better represented when they were released and popularized several decades ago by the likes of Glen Campbell, Judy Collins and Richard Harris. Jimmy Webb quite simply shunned away from his own singing career and only took up a few offers from established artists that required his song writing skills. By the age of 21, Webb was not only a multi-millionaire but also the hottest songwriter on the market. It's amazing that Jimmy Webb the artist never caught on with the public and that his songs only took on a added dimension that were being interpreted by others. When you compare Galveston, Witchita Lineman and By the Time I Get to Phoenix to Glen Campbell's versions...it's quite a whole new experience and very refreshing, the tempo is slower and melancholy. It's brimming with simplicity and brilliance.
5.0 out of 5 stars "Ten Easy Pieces" ....A Long Time Coming,
This review is from: Ten Easy Pieces (Audio CD)Jimmy Webb, like his idol Burt Bacharach, became better known for his songwritting than for being a performer. The post-Tin Pan Alley world of the sixities had reshaped the musical landscape of popular music. Professional songwritting was becoming an obsolete occupation because performers like Dylan, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones wrote their own material, and did not rely on a stable of song writters like earlier generations of cabaret performers. Jimmy Webb survived on the strength of his material.
His break-through work was the Fifth Deminsion's first album "Up, Up and Away" in 1967. He arranged, conducted and wrote about half the songs on that album. Webb is often maligned for over producing and providing material for mediocre artists. A case in point is Richard Harris' rendition of "MaArthur Park" which depending on the critic; is either one of the worst, or best songs ever made. Webb provides a full orchestra and Harris' vocal skates a thin line between being dramatic, and laughably histronic.
With "Ten Easy Pieces", Webb manages to place "MacArthur Park" and nine other jewels from his catalog in perspective by using unadorned arragnements, primarily his piano. Stripped of their elaborate orchestration, these songs sink or swim on the strength of Webb's songwritting. The results are so good, one wonders why Webb never tried low tech approach before. Webb's voice is intimately connected to his material and he sings with a passion that owns these songs. "Ten Easy Pieces" is compelling evidence that Jimmy Webb is the best intrepeter of Jimmy Webb songs and these are the definitive verisions of his songs. "MacArthur Park", in the Webb intrepetation, becomes a lovely, haunting and ornate song and it's clear that Webb, not Richard Harris, should have sang on the original version. This album is a long time coming but certainly worth the wait.
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect,
By A Customer
This review is from: Ten Easy Pieces (Audio CD)It's marvellous to have an album of the truly great Jimmy Webb singing his best known songs - what he lacks in vocal technique he more than makes up for in TLC. What a shame then that there are only ten tracks and that hits such as 'Up Up and Away' and 'Do What You Gotta Do' aren't included, not to mention other gems like 'Carpet Man', 'Where's the Playground Susie?' and the more recent and wonderful 'Time Flies'.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my 5 "desert island" albums,
This review is from: Ten Easy Pieces (Audio CD)Caveat: I'm a fan of great songs. This album has great songs in their "barest" form and they're beautiful. If you even like these songs, buy this CD. Despite owning hundreds of CD's, I keep coming back to this one.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wasail Guy,
This review is from: Ten Easy Pieces (Audio CD)This guy is simply the greatest composer of the last 30 years. I watched him at the piano when we were both in our late teens, writing most of this stuff. He was always at the piano, while everyone else was on their way home or whatever. This was 1966 in San Bernardino California. Yes! Jimmy, we always think of you. Wayne Stauble, Toronto. Former student SBVC>
5.0 out of 5 stars Webb the Singer,
This review is from: Ten Easy Pieces (Audio CD)Jimmy Webb is one of the most successful songwriters of the last half of the 20th century. As a singer, he's been adored by a small but devoted following. From his "Words & Music" LP in 1970, his music became an integral part of the soundtrack to my life. When he got angry as with Laspitch on "And So: On," I was angry. And when he was tender and his voice quivered with emotion on one of my favorites, his "Letters," it spoke to my soul. After those 3 on Reprise, followed the incredible "Land's End" with the soaring freedom of its melodies. "El Mirage" followed and then we've only heard from him sporadically with "Angel Heart," "Suspending Disbelief" and this gem that is now 6 years old.
Jimmy's voice trembles and rises in strength, "I still see her standing by the water" as Michael McDonald lends harmony on the elegy "Galveston." The beauty of the melody shines with his reading of "Highwayman." Jimmy's voice melts like butter over the words, "I still need you more than want you; and I want you for all time" in "Wichita Lineman." Has a more romantic lyric been written? Many have sung "The Moon's a Harsh Mistress" including Linda Ronstadt, Jennifer Warnes, Judy Collins & Joe Cocker. Jimmy's charming reading makes this stately melody shine. Jimmy's voice quivers with emotion, "She just didn't know that I would really go" on the contemplative "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." The levels are shown as we feel the guy loves the one he hurts; and we wonder why is he going, and for what reason. This is a gorgeous song that Glen Campbell sold well, but Webb expresses superlatively. Oliver Schroer's fiddle is beautiful on "If These Walls Could Speak." On "Didn't We" the song builds passionately and then softly reflects on hope and regret, "This time we almost made our poem rhyme." I never cared too much for the Brooklyn Bridge, but Jimmy's voice flutters with emotion, "If he loves you more than me," on the pretty melody of "The Worst That Could Happen." Art Garfunkel did I nice job with his orchestral version of "All I Know," but with Pat Perez's sax Jimmy makes the melody glow, "They say in the darkest night there's a light beyond." The CD ends with one of the most unusual lyrics of "MacArthur Park" that speak of reminiscence and loss. Jimmy's voice softly sings, "the birds like tender babies in your hands." "Ten Easy Pieces" showcases the expressive Webb piano with that voice that feels like a caress. Enjoy this emerald of a CD! It's one of my favorites.
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential,
This review is from: Ten Easy Pieces (Audio CD)If you like art that breaks your heart, then puts it back together again better than before, you need this album. I heard his songs all my life but never really understood them until I heard the writer sing them.
Spare, elegant, haunting, evocative, intimate, naked, true.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Degree of Excellence- A Songwriting Treasure,
This review is from: Ten Easy Pieces (Audio CD)As if you were required to explain the need for oxygen..where do you start,except to say that you just DO!The songs and the songwriting skills of Jimmy Webb need no explanation..they just ARE unique.He is a world wide songwriting treasure,an icon ,a reminder of the truely great songwriters of the golden age that existed in the first half of the 20th century.On this CD however he has attempted to interpret the songs that were made famous by others and others that themselves are standards.
His song arranging skills are highlighted as is his sensitive and personal interpretation of each.The truely magical, The Moon's A Harsh Mistress and "If These Walls Could Speak" make this purchase worth the money.Songs that have become part of popular culture and the benchmark for other songwriters are here,Galverston,By The Time I Get To Phoenix,Macarthur Park and Wichita Lineman,still as as vital today as they were in the 60s and 70s.Then add other gems such as All I Know,Didn't We and Highwayman..truely superb.His playing skills are excellent,and the understated support from friends such as Michael McDonald,Shawn Colvin,Marc Cohn,and Susan Webb truely make this a must have collection.
5.0 out of 5 stars A great CD,
This review is from: Ten Easy Pieces (Audio CD)In November 1999, I was lucky enough to attend a Jimmy Webb show in Boston: just him, his incomparable songs, and his beautiful singing and piano playing. Immediately afterwards, I bought this CD. We've all heard performances of many of these songs, in sometimes overproduced renditions by Glen Campbell and Richard Harris. But these are the definitive performances. There are certainly more innovative and revolutionary singer/songwriters of this generation (Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Laura Nyro, Tom Waits, and [later] Prince and Rickie Lee Jones come to mind), but few perform with such sincerity and openness as Jimmy Webb. On this recording, as in the performance I caught, Webb literally seems to be singing these wonderful songs for the first time: there is no hint of the jadedness and resentment that sometimes infects the performances of some of the more famous artists mentioned above when they're asked to "do the old hits." So, my hat goes off to him. When I saw him live, it was in a small jazz bar, not an arena or even a concert hall. He'd probably been on the road for months, playing similar venues. But he really gave us his all: it was a moving, direct, and totally musical exchange between a great songwriter/performer and a small but attentive audience. My personal favorite song: If These Walls Could Speak My personal least favorite song: MacArthur Park, which, even in this slimmed down version (which is preferable to the overblown Richard Harris one), remains incomprehensible to me.
Most Helpful First | Newest First