This week marks the release of "See You There," a brand new collection of recordings from the legendary Glen Campbell, released on Surfdog Records. The collection -- which given the singer's battle with Alzheimer's Disease -- will likely be the final studio recording of the Arkansas native's career. Five of the twelve cuts were recorded during sessions for his 2011 set "Ghost On The Canvas." The other seven tracks will no doubt be familiar to his fans -- "Hey Little One," "Wichita Lineman," "Gentle On My Mind," "Galveston," "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," "True Grit," and "Rhinestone Cowboy."
However, these are not simply remakes. In many cases, the standards sound like different songs. Gone are the strings that were so much a legendary staple of the Al De Lory-produced Capitol sessions that made the singer one of the most successful artists of his era. Instead, you get some warm and inviting steel licks on cuts such as "Wichita Lineman," and some dark and moody guitar work on "Galveston" and "Rhinestone Cowboy."
Surfdog founder Dave Kaplan – who oversaw the making of the album with Dave Darling – does not take it for granted that he is getting to be a part of history.
"Glen and this record are not just another release," Kaplan told Billboard. "Obviously, with all the facts surrounding his health and everything else. I'm just proud to have any involvement with him. I'm in awe of everything about him."
As is the case with many Campbell fans, Kaplan's memories take him back to the decade of the 1960s, CBS Television, and Wednesday nights.
"My first exposure to Glen was sitting around the living room with my family -- three kids, mom and dad, watching the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour," he recalled. "At that age, I didn't really grasp what a great vocalist or talent he was, I just knew he was such an engaging man on TV. I remembered 'Gentle On My Mind.' which to me, was my Ground Zero for Glen Campbell." That personality was what Kaplan wanted to bring to light on See You There.
"I wanted it to be, at least symbolically, bringing him back to our living room. I still didn't know exactly what that meant. Everyone jumped to the thought process 'You're going to do the Johnny Cash thing that Rick Rubin did.' I thought 'If we could get anywhere close to what Rick did, that would be great -- but that's not what we're trying to do.' I just wanted the overall theme to be bringing Glen back to our living room where many of us were exposed to him in the first place. I knew I wanted the record to be very intimate -- not necessarily having strict rules about every song being acoustic or stripped down -- but certainly the overall theme and goal was to be very personal and intimate."
Kaplan says the updated vocal recordings came from the 2011 "Ghost" sessions.
"Glen, Julian Raymond, and whoever was around, would just sit around after the formal sessions for 'Ghost' were done. They had worked very hard on the songs on the record, and almost for creative release, they started jamming and laying down casual tracks to some of Glen's classic songs. 'The Ghost' release did very well both critically and commercially for us, and when that campaign was winding down, Julian came and played some of those jams for me. The very first words that came out of the speaker were 'Hey, Little One' the way you hear it open this record. I heard that voice, and just thought 'That's from another world.' You don't have to overthink it. It just is. I don't know why it is when you hear a voice like Van Morrison, it just affects you to the core. I don't know why. The ones that can grab your insides a half a second after opening their voice, grab your emotions, and convince you of whatever they are saying, that's a gift -- and it's rare. That's Glen."
In choosing what went on the album, Kaplan stated that the updated recordings had to fit. After all, the originals still hold up very well on their own merits.
"Wichita Lineman' was about as close to perfect as you'd ever get. So, to do it again, you'd better have something to say. I say 'you' as in me. You'd better have a good reason to do songs like that again, a reason that justifies itself. That's why we put things like lonely harmonicas, Hammond B-3, and a different presentation that we hope makes people appreciate it and smile like we did."