One of the many spectacular sales achievements of Glen Campbell is the fact that his first seven albums to appear on Billboard’s country chart all went to No.1. But the only one of his LPs to make the top of both the country and the pop album chart climbed to the top of that country listing on November 30,1968.
That album was the classic Wichita Lineman, and while its aggregate of five weeks at the pop summit was impressive enough, its performance on the country bestsellers was something else. It stayed at the summit for an amazing 20 weeks, became the only one of his albums to be certified double platinum in the US — and when the album’s reign finally came to an end in April 1969, the record that replaced it was…Campbell’s next album, Galveston.
Wichita Lineman is, of course, best known for the timeless Jimmy Webb composition which is widely regarded as one of the greatest pop songs ever written. That was the album’s second single, released just ahead of the long-player, but its first had been the Chris Gantry song that also became one of Campbell’s trademarks, “Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife,” a No.3 country hit that only reached No.32 pop but made No.6 on the Easy Listening chart.
The album featured such top-drawer session players as Carol Kaye, Hal Blaine and Jim Gordon and was produced at the celebrated Capitol Studios in Hollywood by Al De Lory. It contained Campbell’s by now familiar, easy mixture of elegantly-orchestrated country-pop numbers, many of them covers, such as the Bee Gees’ “Words” and Sonny & Cher’s “You’d Better Sit Down, Kids.” He also interpreted Otis Redding and Steve Cropper’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” and there was room for one of Campbell’s own compositions, the reflective “Fate Of Man,” which was the B-side of the “Wichita Lineman” hit.
Campbell did have a No.1 on Billboard’s Christmas charts, just a short time later in the festive season of 1968, with That Christmas Feeling, but never returned to the top of the Billboard 200, or had such a long-running country smash. Wichita Lineman captures a truly great American vocalist doing what he did best.