Saturday, October 31, 2015

Al Molinaro (1919-2015)

Al Molinaro is probably best remembered for being diner owner Al Delvecchio in the classic 1970s/1980s sitcom Happy Days.

To me, however, he will always be Murray the Cop.

Many actors understandably bemoan typecasting. As decried as it is, typecasting is also the mark of performers who are so talented that they become the one major character that everyone associates them with and loves them for.

Thanks for the memories, Al.

--Raj Manoharan

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

CD (Fan) Review – Ghost on the Canvas, by Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell’s final original studio album, from 2011, captures the legendary genre-defying artist in fine form.

This is one of those rare albums on which every song is excellent, varying between intimate acoustic guitar pieces and full-bodied ballads replete with acoustic and electric guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, and percussion. My top three favorite songs are the introspective “A Better Place,” the soaring title track, and the ethereal “Nothing but the Whole Wide World.”

Even though Campbell is 75 years old on this recording, his voice is as vibrant and poignant as ever. And he still wrings out those distinctive, trademark bass-note guitar solos like only he can.

This is quite a grand exit for quite an extraordinary performer.

--Raj Manoharan

Best Song of All Time

In my nearly 43 years, I haven’t heard a song as affecting as “Wichita Lineman” by Glen Campbell. Jimmy Webb’s brilliant melody and lyrics, the lush instrumentation, and Campbell’s earnest vocals and signature bass-note guitar solo come together in a perfect fusion that is unmatched, making this possibly the best song of all time.

The last time I remember hearing this song was on the radio during family road trips in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. I became reacquainted with it recently in all its glory while listening to Campbell’s 2009 Greatest Hits album. The rerecording from the 2013 album See You There and the live version from the 2015 soundtrack album Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me are just as powerful, with the older Campbell’s meeker but still determined vocals exuding even more emotional resonance.

All three versions of the song are absolute, unmistakable gems. Get the aforementioned albums if you can, or at least the songs. If nothing else, get the original recording.

Do it while the Wichita Lineman is still on the line.

--Raj Manoharan