Jimmy Webb Just Across The River

Long recognized as one of America's greatest songwriters, Webb has assembled quite the star-studded list of guest vocalists here: Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams, Glenn Campbell, Mark Knopfler, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and more. They join him in new versions of some Webb classics that have mostly been hits for others. The success rate is high, which is only to expected with songs the calibre of "By The Time I Get To Phoenix, " "Galveston" and "Highwayman." The latter two songs feature, respectively, Williams and Knopfler, and are highlights. The one lowlight is the unsatisfactory choice of Billy Joel for the gorgeous "Wichita Lineman," while Webb was smart to omit melodramatic epic "Macarthur Park." There's Canadian content, in the form of producer Fred Mollin, who's assembled the cream of Nashville's session players. Webb's liner notes detail his history with all the guest stars and are an interesting bonus with this fine collection. (E1)