Richard Harris A Tramp Shining
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- Released: March 2, 1993
- Originally Released: 1993
- Label: MCA
Uncut - p.134"TRAMP is a masterpiece of romantic pining, unrequited whining and self-pity..."
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All songs written by Jimmy Webb.
The artist's first collaboration with composer/producer Jimmy Webb is a great record, even 35 years later, encompassing pop, rock, elements of classical music, and even pop-soul in a body of brilliant, bittersweet romantic songs by Webb, all presented in a consistently affecting and powerful vocal performance by Harris. Harris treaded onto Frank Sinatra territory here, and he did it with a voice not remotely as good or well trained as his, yet he pulled it off by sheer bravado and his ability as an actor, coupled with his vocal talents -- his performance was manly and vulnerable enough to make women swoon, but powerful and manly enough to allow their husbands and boyfriends to feel okay listening to a man's man like Harris singing on such matters. The production and arrangements by Webb were some of the lushest ever heard on a pop album of the period, with a 35-piece orchestra whose presence was more influenced by the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album than it was by any of Nelson Riddle's work with Sinatra. Strangely enough, "MacArthur Park" -- the massive hit off the album -- isn't all that representative of the rest of the record, which relies much more on strings than brass and horns, and has a somewhat lower-key feel but also a great deal more subtlety. One can also hear the influence of Webb's then-recent work with the Fifth Dimension in the presence of the muted female chorus on "In the Final Hours" and, much more so, on "If You Must Leave My Life" (perhaps the best song on the album, and the most complex, with heavy rhythm guitar, a great beat, and lush orchestrations), which almost sounds like a lost Fifth Dimension cut. None of the support musicians are credited, though it's a safe bet that Larry Knechtel, Hal Blaine, and Joe Osborn are among those present. The domestic CD sounds amazingly good, considering that it was mastered in the 1980s, but serious fans may want to opt for Raven Records' The Webb Sessions, which contains this album plus its follow-up, The Yard Went on Forever. ~ Bruce Eder
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