Dec
9

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The Band Perry ‘Gentle On My Mind’ – Single Review

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‘Gentle On My Mind’ was originally recorded by Glen Campbell in 1967, receiving 4 Grammys for Best Male Country & Western Solo Vocal Performance and Best Country & Western Recording for Campbell, and Best Folk Performance and Best Country & Western Song for the writer and original performer John Hartford. It is always hard to cover such a massive hit, and I was very interested to hear how The Band Perry would stamp their energetic style of country onto such a stripped back song.

I was concerned about how The Band Perry would cover this song since 3 of their 4 most recent singles, such as ‘Chainsaw’, ‘Better Dig Two’ and ‘Done’ have all been carried by Kimberly’s big vocal performances. In Glen Campbell’s original version of ‘Gentle On My Mind’, the energy in the song comes mainly from the string backing, heavy in banjo, with his understated vocals complementing the backing to give a laid-back style that is very intriguing, especially for me as a modern listener more used to being captured by a loud rock backing, or big crescendos from the vocalist.

To their immense credit, The Band Perry have adopted the original style and made it their own, with a lone banjo at the beginning being joined by other instruments added in layers, giving an unobtrusive and welcome crescendo carried by addition of instruments like a snare drum, steel guitar and acoustic guitar.

Whilst this backing isn’t dissimilar to that used in the original, the faster tempo and slightly breathless vocal performance from Kimberly distinguishes this song from the original and very much puts a ‘The Band Perry’ stamp on it, which is exactly what I think a good cover should do.

While this is a really good adaptation of the song, having listened to both the original and this cover I have got to say I prefer Campbell’s version. I think the faster, more energetic ‘The Band Perry’ version doesn’t fit the song as well as the beautiful and understated vocal performance by Glen Campbell. I’m not sure whether Kimberly’s higher and more frenetic female vocals contributes to this at all, but given that this song was covered as part of the soundtrack for the sombre biopic ‘Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me’, based on his final ‘Goodbye’ tour after his Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, I was expecting something a lot more sombre.

I would highly recommend giving this cover a listen, but I would also be interested to see what conclusions you draw based on the context and the original version of the song. On the whole, I think I would have enjoyed this song a lot more if I hadn’t listened to the original version.

About Nick Jarman

Music writing as a hobby, neuroscience student at Cambridge University as profession. In the market for music-industry jobs, so if you like what you read, don't be shy! Otherwise you will either find me up a mountain, or on a cricket pitch!
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2 Responses to The Band Perry ‘Gentle On My Mind’ – Single Review

  1. bob says:

    I agree with your comment that “the faster, more energetic ‘The Band Perry’ version doesn’t fit the song as well as the beautiful and understated vocal performance by Glen Campbell.” I first saw Campbell on the “Shindig” TV series in the mid 60’s. Although I’m a David Nail fan, I also like Campbell’s “Galveston” better than David’s cover with Leeann Womack. Generally, I think it’s tough to beat the original version. I’m trying to think of a case where I clearly preferred the cover and I’m coming up empty. There must be a few I’m forgetting.

    Although I have been disappointed with their second cd, except for “Better Dig Two”, I do like the BP. Their debut album had more songs to my liking. One of my favorites was not a single – “Double Heart”.

    • Nick Jarman says:

      I also really like TBP. I think both of their albums are full of great songs, but I also think that their singles are amongst my least favourite from each album, with songs like ‘Chainsaw’ and ‘Better Dig Two’ not really doing it for me.
      I love David Nail’s version of Galveston, and I actually haven’t heard the original, so I can’t comment there! There are loads of covers that I prefer from the original, but usually I find they are crossover hits, and generally I prefer the less-produced country versions of pop hits. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but they are out there somewhere!

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