Jimmy Webb

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- Jimmy Webb -- vocals, keyboards


  supporting musicians (1972)

- Joni Mitchell -- backing vocals

- Skip Mosher -- bass, flute, sax

- Ray Rich -- drums, percussion

- Fred Tackett -- guitar, trumpet

- Susan Webb -- backing vocals


  supporting musicians (1974)

- B.J. Cole – steel guitar 

- Barry DeSouza – drums 

- Phillip Goodhand-Tait – keyboards 

- David Hentschel – synthesizer 

- Brian Hodges – bass 

- Davey Johnstone – mandolin 

- Paul Keogh – guitar 

- Joni Mitchell – vocals

- Dee Murray – bass 

- Nigel Olsson – drums 

- Dean Parks – guitar 

- Tom Scott – saxophone 

- Ringo Starr – drums 

- Fred Tackett – guitar 

- Susan Webb – vocals  


  supporting musicians (1977)

- Harry Bluestone – concertmaster 

- Billy Davis - vocals 

- Lowell George – slide guitar 

- Jim Gordon – drums

- George Hawkins – vocals 

- David Hungate – bass 

- Kenny Loggins – vocals 

- Clydie King – background vocals

- Larry Knechtel – bass 

- George Martin – arranger, conductor, keyboards, synthesizer 

- Harvey Mason – percussion 

- Sherlie Matthews – background vocals 

- Dee Murray – bass 

- Nigel Olsson – drums 

- David Paich – keyboards, synthesizer 

- Dean Parks – guitar 

- Herb Pedersen – banjo, 12-string guitar, background vocals 

- Fred Tackett – guitar 

- Susan Webb – background vocals 





- The Strawberry Children

- Jimmy Webb and the Webb Brothers





Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Letters

Company: Reprise

Catalog:  MS 2055

Country/State: Elk City, Oklahoma

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $25.00



Given my Jimmy Webb collection wasn't acquired chronologically, perhaps I should have waited till I owned most of the catalog and listened to them oldest to most recent.  Wonder if that would have changed my opinion on some of these albums?


Having self-produced his three previous albums, 1972's "Letters" found Webb turning over production responsibilities to Larry Marks.  Featuring nine originals and one cover (Boudleaux Bryan's classic 'Love Hurts'), the results were a little more mainstream than his earlier efforts.  Exemplified by tracks like 'Similie', 'Catharsis' and 'When Can Brown Begin', the majority of the set appeared to be an effort to position Webb as a gifted singer-songwriter.   Imagine a keyboard playing James Taylor.  Lots of tears.  Lots of heartbreak. The one ballad that stood out was Webb's arrangement of 'Galveston.'  I grew up with a like the Glen Campbell cover, so Webb's stark, guitar powered arrangement was a real ear-opener.  Worth hearing even if you aren't a fan.  As you can tell, I'm not a big fan of Webb's pretentious ballads, so was there anything worth hearing on this one?  The breezy 'Campo de Encino' was actually funny.  Similar, but not quite as good was 'Once in the Morning.'  Perhaps not the best song on the album, but certain the biggest surprise came in the form of the full-out rocker 'Song Seller.'  A total surprise to me, but Webb's voice was actually capable of handling a rock arrangement.  My favorite Webb album?  No.  Not sure I actually have one, but worth a spin for the atypical performances.


"Land's End" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Galveston (Jimmy Webb) - 4:09 rating: **** stars

Having grown up on Glen Campbell's cover of the tune, Webb's rendition caught me totally off guard.  Ditching all the orchestration found on Campbell's version, Webb's arrangement remained true to the original melody, but slowed it down, stripping it down to his voice, a couple of acoustic guitar and a bit of tasteful orchestration.  Wow.  I still love the Campbell version, but I can listen to this one without any hesitation. As part of December, 1988 appearance on the Canadian concert series In Session, YouTube has a clip of Webb and the late Campbell talking about the song and then performing it as a duet.  Fascinating to hear, this version slows the song down along the lines of Webb's version, but with keyboard replacing the angry acoustic guitar: Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb: In Session - Galveston (with lead-in discussion) (youtube.com)

2.) Campo de Encino (Jimmy Webb) - 4:51  rating: **** stars

The breezy and goofy 'Campo de Encino' stands as one of my favorite Webb performers.  The song was supposedly inspired by Harry Nilsson taking a shot at Webb's reputation for being such as "serious" writer.  Webb blows his pretentious reputation to  pieces with this one.  Nilsson responded by recording the song, but setting it to a slow, piano-powered dirge.  The track finally saw a public release as a bonus track of a reissue of his "Son of Schmilsson" album.  The song was released as a British promo 45 and appeared as the flip side of his 'Love Hurts" US single.





- 1972's 'Campo de Encino' b/w 'One In the Morning' (Reprise catalog number K-14279)






3.) Love Hurts (Boudleaux Bryant) - 3:58 rating: ** stars

Webb's cover of the Boudleaux Bryant classic 'Love Hurts' was the album's lone non-original.  While his stark, keyboard-powered arrangement was pretty and heartfelt, it wasn't an improvement on the classic Everly Brothers version.  The second half of the track found Webb fighting a losing battle against the heavy string orchestration. Although it's a slightly different version the found on the album, I always wondered why Reprise decided to release the one cover song as the US single.  Bet Webb wasn't particularly happy with the decision.





- 1972's 'Love Hurts' b/w 'Campo de Encino' (Reprise catalog number REP 1116)





4.) Simile (Jimmy Webb) - 3:14 rating: ** stars 

Shocker, 'Simile' was another pretty, keyboard-powered ballad.  I suspect this was the kind of stuff that got under Nilsson's skin ...  Joni Mitchell provided the backing vocals.

5.) Hurt Me Well (Jimmy Webb) - 4:13 rating: *** stars

Anyone want to guess what 'Hurt Me Well' sounded?  Well, it you guessed a keyboard-powered ballad, you won the prize. Okay this one actually exhibited a little more energy than some of the other tracks,  In fact, this could have been a track for Glen Campbell to record - the orchestration was already there.


(side 2)

1.) Once in the Morning (Jimmy Webb) - 3:07  rating: *** stars

Complete with horns and sister Susan Webb on backing vocals, 'Once In the Morning' appeared to be another effort to shatter his serious imagine.  Pretty melody, funny lyrics, but not quite as impressive as 'Campo de Encino.'

2.) Catharsis (Jimmy Webb) - 3:29  rating: ** stars 

Hum, how did Webb get his reputation as pretentious?  

3.) Song Seller (Jimmy Webb) - 3:30  rating: **** stars

A remake of a tune that originally appeared on Webb's 1970 "Words and Music" album, thankfully 'Song Seller' surrounded Webb with a true rock arrangement.  Powered by Fred Tackett's fuzz guitar, it really did rock out.  The autobiographical lyrics and nods to The Fab Four were cute.  Yes, the lyrics included a word that ensured no radio station would play the song.

4.) When Can Brown Begin (Jimmy Webb) - 4:16 rating: *** stars

Webb and piano; speculation on my part, but the lyrics seem to reflect Webb's thought on America's racial issues.  I'll admit the lyrics "Salt and pepper don't get in each other's way, you know they just cook together .." always make me smile.  If you want to hear a far more commercial take on the song, listen to the version Webb produced for The Supremes' (found on their 1972 "The Supremes Produced And Arranged By Jimmy Webb" album). Recorded in London (not time or place credits), YouTube has a live performance of the song: Jimmy Webb When Can Brown Begin (youtube.com)

5.) Piano (Jimmy Webb) - 3:59  rating: ** stars

'Piano' was even more fragile than your typical Webb ballad ...  Pass.





Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Land's End

Company: Asylum

Catalog:  SD 5070

Country/State: Elk City, Oklahoma

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: small punch hole top right; includes lyric insert

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $25.00



After three studio albums for Reprise Records, 1974's "Land's End" found Jimmy Webb signed to David Geffen's Asylum Records.  The collaboration would seem to have been the perfect move with Asylum doing the same thing for Webb it had done for acts like Jackson Browne, The Eagles and Joni Mitchell.  Asylum certainly seemed willing to shell out money, allowing Webb to record the album in London's Trident Studios.  The self-produced collection also featured one of the year's biggest cast of collaborators, including most of Elton John's recording and touring band, Joni Mitchell and Ringo Starr. Featuring ten Webb originals, the bulk of the collection showcased what Webb did best.  Exemplified by material like 'Cloudman' and 'Just This One Time' these were prime highlighting tales of romantic loss, woe and destructive self-pity.  On 'Ocean In HIs Eyes' and 'Crying In My Sleep' Webb wrapped his patented heartbreak moves in LA styled country-rock moves.  As we all know, there's absolutely nothing wrong with an occasional dose of self-pity, but it's one of those things where a little goes a long way.  Webb at to the problem by wrapping lots of these songs in a heavy dose of orchestration. Admittedly it wasn't a total wipeout.  The album's biggest strengths came in the form of Webb's growth as a singer.  On early albums he came across as tentative vocalist.  Here Webb sounded far more confident, revealing some great chops - particularly on those songs where he broke the sensitive singer/songwriter mold.  The happy, bouncy 'Feet in the Sunshine' was a shocker.  The same was true for 'Lady Fits Her Blue Jeans.'  Even better was the out-and-out rocker 'Alyce Blue Gown.'  Shame he didn't spend more effort exploring those musical directions.  


Surprisingly David Geffen's golden touch didn't work for Webb.  In spite of floating two singles and promoting the LP, it did little commercially.


"Land's End" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Ocean in His Eyes (Jimmy Webb) - 4:27   rating: *** stars

Jimmy Webb with a country-rock edge.  Well the good news was Webb's voice sounded surprisingly strong and vibrant on 'Ocean in His Eyes."  The bad news is the song wasn't particularly engaging.  Lots of strumming guitars, B.J. Cole's pedal steel guitar, needless orchestration and Susan Webb on backing vocals.  Say what you will about Glen Cambell, but his cover was superior.

2) Feet in the Sunshine (Jimmy Webb) - 3:28   rating: **** stars

'Feet in the Sunshine' opened up with a tasty guitar solo and for an instant Webb's boisterous vocals reminded me of Glen Campbell.  One of Webb's bounciest tunes and showcasing a rare set of uplifting vocals, this one was tapped as a single, but escaped radio's attention.  Shame since it should have been a hit single.  Joni Mitchell's instantly recognizable voice on backing vocals.  Surprising Nike or some shoe company hasn't latched on to this as a commercial.  





- 1974's 'Feet In the Sunshine' b/w 'Lady Fits Her Blue Jeans' (Asylum catalog number AS-11042-A/B)






3.) Cloudman (Jimmy Webb) - 3:45   rating: ** stars

Ah, in case anyone was concerned Webb had been infected by happiness, 'Cloudman' found him back to wallowing in sensitive singer/songwriter moves.  Definitely a contender for "cram the most words into a three-ana-a-half-minute song" award.  What it made for in terms of word count, was lacking in terms of a memorable melody.

4.) Lady Fits Her Blue Jeans (Jimmy Webb) - 4:05  rating: **** stars

The title would guarantee radio wanted nothing to do with it, but 'Lady Fits Her Blue Jeans' was another surprisingly sweet tune with a great Webb vocal.  Ah the joys of a sugar baby.  Another track that had Glen Campbell cover written all over it.  And of course Webb couldn't leave a great pop song alone, adding an orchestrated coda to the end.

5.) Just This One Time (Jimmy Webb) - 4:58   rating: **** stars

The title would guarantee radio wanted nothing to do with it, but 'Just This One Time' started out with one of those patented "heavy" Webb melodies.  The result was a pretty, slightly ominous melody with heavily orchestrated ballad; Webb trotting out his "power" vocals.  Not sure who it was, but the track also featured some great drums.  Yes, this was another track Campbell covered.


(side 2)

1.) Crying in My Sleep (Jimmy Webb) - 4:10   rating: *** stars

Ah, back to standard heartbreak ...  'Crying in My Sleep' was pretty, but a bit maudlin, even by Webb's standards.  Never thought I would say something like this, but Art Garfunkel actually did a nice cover of the song on his 1977 "Watermark" album.  The song was tapped as the album's second single:





- 1974's 'Crying In My Sleep' b/w 'Ocean In His Eyes' (Asylum catalog number AS 11027-A/B)




2.) It's a Sin (Jimmy Webb) - 3:06  rating: ** stars

Opening up like something off a Broadway stage show, the heavily orchestrated ballad 'It's a Sin' found Webb bringing all of his gravitas to the table.  Expect a lightning strike at any moment.  Campbell covered the song on his 'Reunion" collaboration with Webb.

3.) Alyce Blue Gown (Jimmy Webb) - 4:58   rating: **** stars

Not that I have any problems with a pretty heartbreaking ballad, but I've always found Webb at his best when breaking from that mold.  That's what makes 'Alyce Blue Gown' so impressive.  Nah, you weren't going to mistake this for AC/DC, but in the Webb catalog it came close.  Full of screaming lead guitars and a true rock melody, Webb sounded like he was having a blast on this one.  Should have been a single.  That's Jimmy Webb ???

4.) Land's End/Asleep on the Wind (Jimmy Webb) - 9:07   rating: *** stars

To my ears the suite 'Land's End/Asleep on the Wind' sounded like Webb trying to outdo his earlier 'Macarthur Park.'  Fans slap the song with descriptions like 'incredible', 'floating,' 'almost religious' ...  I can already see the hate mail, but I just don't get it.  The instrumental title track struck me as being little more than routine film soundtrack instrumentation.  I realize the limits of recording technology in 1974, but the "bird" sound effects were simply funny.  'Asleep on the Wind' found Webb unpacking the 'Macarthur Park' arsenal of sentimentality.  Oh gosh, images of Rose standing on the front of the Titanic ...   It was pretty and I can see English majors shuddering in ecstasy.  You also got to hear a little more from Joni Mitchell on backing vocals.  I'll give it an extra star for Mitchell's participation.





Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  El Mirage

Company: Atlantic

Catalog:  SD18218

Country/State: Elk City, Oklahoma

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $25.00



George Martin handling production for one of America's best known song writers ...  Sounds promising.  


Signed to Atlantic, there were clearly high hopes for 1977's "El Mirage" o be Webb's breakout release. Atlantic clearly shelled out some big money to record the collection.  In addition to hiring George Martin to produce, the collection sported one of the year's most impressive collections of studio musicians, including the cream of L.A. sessions players, and a sizable part of Elton John's touring band.  Having heard Webb's earlier album's this ballad heavy set wasn't a major departure from those previous releases.  The biggest difference was actually Webb's voice.  Whereas on his earlier albums Webb's vocals lacked a certain confidence and tended to be inconsistent, this time out he seemed to have gained considerable confidence.  The performances weren't perfect (check out parts of 'The Highwaymen'), but it made for a significant improvement over earlier albums.  That's not to say everyone was going to love the collection.  Exemplified by performances like 'Christiaan, No,' 'Where the Universes Are' and 'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress', Webb's ballad heavy, highly stylized catalog was a niche product.  Taken individually virtually every one of these tunes was worth hearing.  Taken in one sitting I found the results tended to overwhelm and drift towards a certain sound-the-sameness.  Imagine a diabetic overdosing on sugar.  Elsewhere, some of Webb's more obvious stabs at a commercial breakthrough fell flat - 'Mixed-Up Guy' even reflected a touch of disco.  Not perfect, but probably Webb's best solo release.


"El Mirage" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Highwaymen   (Jimmy Webb) - 3:51  rating: **** stars

Outside of 'MacArthur Park' and the songs he placed with Glenn Campbell, I'm guessing that 'The Highwaymen' is Webb's best known work; serving as an inspiration to one of country music's first "super group" collaborations in the form of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson.  Collectively they adopted The Highwaymen name and enjoyed their first hit with a cover of the tune.  Musically the tune follows in the path of eclectic, hyper-literate tunes like 'MacArthur Park.'  Okay, it's certainly better than the former, through Martin's production (horns, strings, backing vocalists, etc.) threatened to drown Webb.  Recorded during an appearance on BBC television, YouTube has a performance of the tune: Jimmy Webb - The Highwayman - YouTube   The song was tapped as a promotional 45 in the States and as a stock single in the UK:


- 1977's 'The Highwaymen' (mono) b/w 'The Highwaymen' (stereo)  (Atlantic catalog number 3426)

- 1977's 'The Highwaymen' b/w 'Christiaan, No' (Atlantic catalog number K 10931)

2.) If You See Me Getting Smaller I'm Leaving   (Jimmy Webb) - 3:53   rating: **** stars

To my ears 'If You See Me Getting Smaller I'm Leaving' sounded like a James Taylor outtake.   The title was cumbersome, but the autobiographical look at his dying solo career and glorious refrain saved the song from oblivion.  The song was apparently written for Waylon Jennings who recorded it a couple of years earlier.  Atlantic tapped it as the album's leadoff single:



- 1977's 'If You See Me Getting Smaller I'm Leaving' b/w 'Christiaan, No' (Atlantic catalog number 3407)


Recorded at new York's City Winery, YouTube has a live May 2019 performance of the song: Jimmy Webb “If You See Me Getting Smaller” Live at City Winery Boston, May 15, 2019 - YouTube






3.) Mixed-Up Guy   (Jimmy Webb) -  3:40   rating: *** stars

Maybe it's just my old ears, but 'Mixed-Up Guy' reminded me of something Webb might have penned for the late Glen Campbell.  With a '70s top-40 feel (perhaps even a touch of disco), Webb's vocals even reminded me a bit of Campbell's delivery.  The arrangement was just a tad to MOR for the song to be really good.  Blame the chirping backing singers.  

4.) Christiaan, No   (Jimmy Webb) -  3:07   rating: **** stars

Pretty, sentimental, and commercial ballad that served to highlight Webb's surprisingly nice voice.  Interesting to compare this to Glen Campbell's slightly more country-tinged version of the tune.  Webb's original is better.  Actually I've always thought this one had kind of an Elton John flavor which may be a reflection of the fact most of John's touring band was on the album.

5.) Moment in a Shadow   (Jimmy Webb) -  3:39   rating: ** stars

Well, Martin's over-the-top production managed to turn the ballad 'Moment In a Shadow' into MOR slush.  


(side 2)

1.) Sugarbird   (Jimmy Webb) - 3:25   rating: *** stars

Opening up with a tasty bass line, 'Sugarbird' introduced a light reggae vibe to the mix.  Extra star for the bass line.  Deduct a star for the needless orchestration.

2.) Where the Universes Are   (Jimmy Webb) - 3:34   rating: ** stars

'Where the Universes Are' opened up as a spare, acoustic ballad, and then shifted into an over-the-top, overly-orchestrated arrangement that threatened to drown Webb.  The song was tapped as an English single:





- 1977's 'Where the Universes Are' b/w 'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress' (Atlantic catalog number K 10978)








3.) P.F. Sloan   (Jimmy Webb) - 4:17   rating: **** stars

Webb had previously recorded 'P.F. Sloan' on his 1970 "Words and Music" debut.  I remember thinking the original had kind of a Michael Nesmith and the Monkees flavor.  The remake wasn't a radically redo, but still stood as one of the album's standout performances ...   Taken from an early-'70s appearance on English television,  YouTube has a live performance of the song at: JIMMY WEBB P F Sloan - YouTube 

4.) Dance To the Radio  (Fred Tackett) - 3:06    rating: **** stars

The only cover tune 'Dance To the Radio' featured a commercial country-rock feel.  To my ears the song actually had a Little Feat feeling.  Wonder if it had anything to do with the fact Fred Tackett and Lowell George was featured on lead guitar?   Had I been responsible for marketing, this was the song I would have tapped as the lead single.

5.) The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress   (Jimmy Webb) - 3:06     rating: **** stars

One of Webb's best know compositions.  It's certainly a beautiful song.  Strictly my opinion ...  teh Webb original is better than Joe Cocker, or the Glen Campbell's covers, but not as good as Linda Ronstadt's.  Admittedly, Ronstadt's version is probably the one most folks have heard.  It's certainly the one I was familiar with.  Recorded in 1988 as part of a "Salute to the American Songwriter", YouTube has a clip of Webb and Ronstadt performing the tune: Jimmy Webb & Linda Ronstadt THE MOON'S A HARSH MISTRESS - YouTube

6.) Skylark (A Meditation) (Instrumental)  (Jimmy Webb - Paul A. Skylar) -  3:37   rating: *** stars
Almost new-agish, the synthesizer powered instrumental 'Skylark (A Meditation)' was a strange way to end the album.  The melody was certainly pretty, but it just felt out of place on the album.  Imagine a sibling to Crosby and Nash's 'Whistling Down the Water.'