The Legacy 1961-2002

by: Glen Campbell

Given the overwhelming number of Glen Campbell collections released over the years, it comes as a shock to realize that Capitol' s 2003 set Legacy 1961-2002 is the first-ever Campbell box set to be released. Legacy is one of the few serious, ambitious, and successful Campbell retrospectives assembled during the CD era. It contains everything on All the Best and falls somewhere between the overreach of the Razor & Tie set (33 of its 40 tracks are here) and the impeccable, if idiosyncratic song selection on the EMI collection (23 of its 46 tracks are here, if the "Houston (I'm Coming to See You)" variation "London (I'm Coming to See You)" counts). So, the basic song selection is right on the money, but, as in many Campbell collections, the devil is in the details, the biggest being disc four, containing 15 live tracks recorded between 1969 and 2002. While there are some good cuts here, including a Beach Boys medley, it's hampered by too many run-of-the-mill performances and stilted latter-day tracks. Since they're all squared away on one disc, it's easy to ignore it, but it would have been better to either release this as three discs, or use all four for his studio recordings, which are superior to live cuts. The other three discs are much better, but they do suffer from the typical box set tendency to extend the story too far after the quality of the artist's music starts to decline. After 1978's Basic, Campbell' s music turned too calculatedly adult contemporary, and the last 14 tracks of disc three are devoted to cuts from the '80s and '90s, which, frankly, is too much space. It would have been much better to play up his glory years of 1967-1977. They are still emphasized here, but space should have been made for great album tracks, forgotten singles, and obscurities that have been on other collections. While it is asking too much to see the B-side "Record Collector's Dream" (not on CD until Raven's 2002 two-fer of Rhinestone Cowboy/Bloodline), "See You on Sunday," "Comeback," and the Jimmy Webb masterpiece "Christian No" should have been on here. There are other good, idiosyncratic choices to be sure, but it winds up not being as sharp as The Capitol Years, which remains the best collection because it captures Campbell at his best, regardless of hits. This has its nicely idiosyncratic song selection and, like Razor & Tie' s collection, runs out of steam toward the end. However, it gets things mostly right, and it is a good, thorough overview, although it doesn't contain every great thing Campbell recorded -- which it could have, if it had thrown out the live disc and concentrated on his peak. Still, it's an admirable box set and a worthy addition to Campbell' s prodigious catalog. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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