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Glen Campbell

Sings for the King – 2018 (UME)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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At first glance it may seem an unlikely connection, that which tied Glen Campbell, the so-called Rhinestone Cowboy, with the undisputed King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley. Nevertheless, it was a relationship that spawned several years, mostly during Elvis' lean period in the mid '60s and Campbell's tenure as part of that famed studio ensemble, the Wrecking Crew. As the decade wore on, both men accelerated in prominence, Elvis via his 1968 televised comeback special and Campbell as a solo star tallying up a string of Jimmy Webb-penned hits.

It was during the mid point of the decade when the bond between the two men came ever closer, thanks to a series of song demos Campbell recorded for Presley at the behest of Elvis' longtime song supplier Ben Weisman. Weisman had been filling out Elvis' recorded catalog since the beginning, and needing someone to convey them to the King, Campbell was tapped for the job. He allegedly cut 30 tracks between 1965 and 1968, 18 of which appear on this aptly titled collection, "Sings for the King."

The most striking thing about these recordings is not only that they languished in the vault for so long - they were intended only for Elvis' ears after all - but the way Campbell conveys them, affecting the trademark Presley croon. He does so, so effectively in fact, that if one didn't know any better, they would easily think it's Elvis himself rummaging this material.

A sole duet between Elvis and Campbell aside - that being a gospel number titled "We Call On Him" - Campbell's near perfect Presley impression effectively puts the Presley stamp on each of these entries.

And while all but a handful of these songs ("Clambake" in particular) will be familiar only to the most fervent fans, it's easy to imagine Presley's voice in place of Campbell's. And given the mostly upbeat selection, it's fair to say that wen Campbell was singing for the King, he was by turns singing for the rest of us as well.

Lee Zimmerman is a freelance writer based in Maryville, Tenn. He also expounds on music on his web site, Stories Beyond the Music - Americana Music Reviews, Interviews & Articles.