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Rhinestone Cowboy Takes a Shine to City

Date: 2000-05-16
source: New York Post
author: Mary Huhm

At Manhattan's year-old and most sophisticated show room, Feinstein's at the Regency, composer Jimmy Webb and singer Glen Campbell reunited for an easygoing ambling hour of familiar story-songs. All that was missing was a potbelly stove as the duo transformed the posh eatery into a genial and relaxed setting for an informal and folksy program from the pages of Webb's picturesque songbook.

Songwriters need a voice, and Webb, who made a solo Manhattan club appearance in 1998 at the defunct and sadly missed Rainbow and Stars, appears to be considerably more comfortable hit time with Campbell around to do the serenading. The occasion marks a preview of their forthcoming CD, "Reunited." Campbell still boasts boyish good looks and invest amiable easygoing chatter and charm into the show. Complemented by his clean and confident finger-pickin' guitar style, Campbell's voice brought rustic warmth to a familiar program of chart-breaking country flavored hits.

An audience, scattered with some fiercely devoted fans, welcomed the golden oldies -- "Galveston," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Wichita Lineman" -- with enthusiastic response.

While Webb's canvas is filled with vivid panoramic landscapes of trails, horizons and sunsets, the program is decidedly marked by a kind of lumbering sameness.

Along with their trademark hits, the pair added folksy romanticism to "The Moon's A Harsh Mistress," and invested both "Where's the Playground Susie" and "Lightning in a Bottle" with a kind of wistful reflection. "If These Walls Could Speak" was marred by some disturbing audio feedback and a slight struggle to find the correct key, but the goon-natured duo chuckled and rose above it all. And that old cake, which still appears to be standing out in the rain, was recalled in a dismissive soggy rendition of "MacArthur Park," but Campbell framed the simply stated torchiness of "Didn't We?" with a real sense of heartbreak. For an encore Campbell put a postscript on his 40-year career as a recording and performing artist inviting the audience to join in for a down-home sing-along of "Rhinestone Cowboy."

While country-flavored writers and singers may appear to be on hallowed ground and out of sorts in the posh environment of Manhattan cabaret, Webb and Campbell proved to be a welcome alternative to the steady club diet of Porter, the Gershwins', Berlin and Broadway show tunes. The songs from yet another lost generation deserve their due as well.