Jimmy Webb’s debut album Words and Music (1970) was a formative exercise in multi-tracking and overdubbing, with almost every sound on the LP made by Webb or his studio cohort, Fred Tackett. But its pioneering thunder was largely stolen by the near-simultaneous release of Paul McCartney‘s equally hands-on approach to his first post-Beatles album.
The follow-up, And So: On (1971), was more stripped down, as was 1972’s Letters. Arguably his finest work, the latter boasts a telling contribution from Joni Mitchell and a wonderfully sparse reading of Galveston, shorn of the big sky symphonics of the Glen Campbell hit version.
Land’s End (1974) was perhaps closest to the orchestral grandeur of the two 60s albums he made with actor Richard Harris, and most notable for the nine-minute title track and the Spector-friendly epic pop of Just This One Time.
1997’s El Mirage, produced by George Martin, included two 24-carat Webb classics in The Moon’s A Harsh Mistress and the old West ghost ballad, The Highwayman – later covered by, and the inspiration for, the superstar country quartet of Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.