Wichita Linemen, Part One

:: Tom Jones - Wichita Lineman ::

:: The Heartaches -Wichita Lineman ::

:: Enoch Light & The Brass Menagarie - Wichita Lineman ::

The Record Robot has proven time and time again that you can never post too many versions of Wichita Lineman. The Jimmy Webb composition, originally a huge hit for Glen Campbell in 1968, is one of those songs that simply had to be covered by every recording artist of the day who basically didn't write their own material. So, while the likes of The Beatles and Burt Bacharach no doubt admired the song-craft, their job was to accept the challenge presented by the existence of this song, and try to write something equal or better. For the Jack Joneses and Eddy Arnolds of the world though, the pressure to put their individual stamp on the song was great, but more often than not any given singer found it to be a tough nut to crack.

So, while it was a great challenge for male vocalists (girl singers didn't touch it. What were they supposed to do? "Wichita Lineperson"?), instrumental arrangers had a field day with it.

Tom Jones didn't have a problem with the material. He simply applied liberal doses of female melting bravado, mixed with a somewhat subtle delivery. Overall, the arrangement is not unusual (sorry), and sticks to the Glen Campbell standard.

The Heartaches were Dottie West's backup band, but as soon as they were given the opportunity to make an album of instrumental renditions of their favorite country songs, WL was at the top of their list (and was the inspiration for the title of the album, "Wichita Lineman and Other Country Hits"). You gotta dig that plaintive pedal steel, along with vibes, vibrato guitar, and harpsichord!

Enoch Light treats the material with his usual flair, exploiting nearly all of it's sonic possibilities with a brassy arrangement. Fans of FM "background music" were no doubt thrilled and probably asked themselves, "Isn't this a country song?". Of course the answer is no, but we won't tell them.

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Monday, February 11, 2008 4:13:00 AM

Hey Mike,

Glad to see you finally out of hibernation and hitting us again with some regular posts. Jimmy Webb is da man, for sure. I was ready to sicker & sneer at Valley Tom's rendition, but actually it's not too shoddy, even given that it takes no risks as you point out.

Love the glockenspiel section in the Heartaches' version, but it sadly subsides all too quickly into a perfunctory guitar bridge. Ah well! The cover art is a revelation; didn't know that Enoch Light was so captivated by the "Story of 'O'"...    

Sunday, May 25, 2008 7:16:00 PM

Hi Mike
Thanks for the Wichita Linemen by Enoch Light, please could you post the entire LP "Enoch Light and the brass menagerie"
Thanks in advance

Wednesday, December 22, 2021 3:34:00 PM

Your thee best    

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