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Jimmy Webb

Just Across the River – 2010 (E1)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Jimmy Webb

Songwriter Jimmy Webb revisits many of his classic compositions in this collection, with help from several other pop, rock and country music luminaries. While Webb's vocals are pleasant enough, at times reminiscent of Ronnie Milsap or Alabama's Randy Owen, these offerings demonstrate why he is more revered as a tunesmith than a singer.

No Webb compilation would be complete without the contribution of Glen Campbell and the inclusion of the tune By The Time I Get To Phoenix, so it's no surprise that Campbell joins Webb on an effective duet of the song that helped make them both stars in 1967. Other songs originally associated with Campbell that make the cut here are Galveston with Lucinda Williams and Wichita Lineman with Billy Joel.

Among the stronger collaborations are If You See Me Getting Smaller with Willie Nelson, P.F. Sloan with Jackson Browne and Highwayman with Mark Knopfler. Webb goes solo on three tracks as well: Cowboy Hall Of Fame, It Won't Bring Her Back and Do What You Gotta Do.

While none of the revisions here will make anyone forget the original, perhaps the most disappointing effort is the impassive delivery by Webb and Linda Ronstadt on All I Know, which pales to the hit version by Art Garfunkel.

The one new song is Where Words End with Michael McDonald, which Webb reveals in his liner notes was written for singer Johnny Rivers (who also suggested the title of the song) on the death of Rivers' mother ("Where words end/ They'll be no might have beens/ She'll be waiting for me then/ Just across the river/ Where all the words end").

Fans of Jimmy Webb will enjoy most of the remakes in this set, and the absence of such classics as MacArthur Park and Up, Up and Away suggest another volume is in order.