"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.