JIMMY WEBB RELEASES his new album, Still Within The Sound Of My Voice, in September. On it the master songsmith follows the pattern set by 2010's Just Across The River, and reprises treasures from the vaults in duet form. This time he's helped out by Brian Wilson, Kris Kristofferson, Crosby and Nash, Carly Simon, Art Garfunkel, The Jordanaires, Joe Cocker, Rumer, Marc Cohn, Lyle Lovett, Amy Grant, America and ex-Del Amitri man Justin Currie.
"They said I should do MacArthur Park," Currie tells MOJO. "I shat myself! There's no way I could have done it. So I've done a song called You Can't Treat The Wrong Man Right – it's quite straightforward, almost in the Don Henley area, and I loved the lyric. When you do a duet, when the second voice comes in it should be a surprise, and that's what happens I think. And he's great to harmonise with. Brian Wilson's sung a really soulful, restrained version of MacArthur Park, fortunately!"
Currie adds that it was Richard Harris' 1968 version of MacArthur Park that opened his mind to Webb's songwriting. "It was my real introduction to Jimmy Webb, when I realized that MacArthur Park is actually a masterpiece and not some kitsch hit. This was when I hitched up with the woman I'm still with, and she's a massive fan."
Webb performs MacArthur Park at the BBC, 1971. That cake must be sopping by now.
"Jimmy writes poetically," Currie continues, "and the meanings aren't immediately obvious, so just singing his lyrics is interesting. In the act of learning them, you invent new meaning, or maybe even begin to understand them! So it's given me an insight into how someone I really admire writes and works."
Elsewhere on the LP Joe Cocker sings The Moon's A Harsh Mistress, Kristofferson takes on Honey Come Back and Crosby & Nash interpret If These Walls Could Speak.
"I should take it in my stride but I just can't believe my luck, that my name's up there with all those others," laughs Currie, whose new solo LP Lower Reaches' is out August 19 through Endless Shipwreck/Ignition Records. "And I should say I didn't record with him, I actually sent him a CD with my vocal on. The song was recorded in Nashville with all the proper Nashville session geezers, so it was a real pleasure to be tracking vocals in my downstairs bedroom – karaoke as recorded by God!"
Listen to Justin Currie's Little Stars, from the album, Lower Reaches – out August 19.