Various Artists – The Songs Of Jimmy Webb, Tunesmith

Hefty selection of Webb songs, featuring R.E.M., Stevie Wonder, Scott Walker and Dusty Springfield

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It was probably asking too much for this two-disc set of Webb interpretations to be comprehensive (plenty of Glen Campbell but not “Wichita Lineman”, no Isaac Hayes or Donna Summer). Nevertheless,…Tunesmith is a much-needed collection of his emotionally ripe songs. Alongside familiar gems by 5th Dimension and Richard Harris, there are some rare treasures: Webb’s first lead vocal, fronting Strawberry Children on the ornate pop of “Love Years Coming”; a tempestuous, bluesy take on “Requiem: 820 Latham” by Australian footnotes The Executives; original Fairports singer Ian Matthews making dappled folk-rock out of “Met Her On A Plane”; the post-Ross Supremes’ marvellous “5.30 Plane”.

Some of the ’70s balladry on the second disc is predictably over egged, and only the truly resilient will want to hear Kenny Loggins’ “The Last Unicorn”. Still, one to file alongside Archive, WEA’s terrific compilation of Webb’s own performances.

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