Totally Unrequested: Jimmy Campbell Live on "Disco 2" from 1970
January 2, 2019 | by Jocelyn Hoppa
Hailing from Liverpool, England, Jimmy Campbell was an omnipresent figure in the mid-60s pop/rock Merseybeat scene. One undeniable claim to fame is the first band Campbell started in school, The Panthers, supported The Beatles back in 1962. Campbell then made the rounds through several other known Merseybeat groups such as The Kirkbys, The 23rd Turnoff, and Rockin' Horse, which ventured into more psychedelic territory that was taking shape in the later portion of '60s.
Though a fixture on the scene, he never had a record chart.
Today, I'd like to point your attention toward Campbell's solo foray into the folk, acoustic sounds of the '60s with this rare live performance. He put out three prime listening solo records, and even with his somewhat "legendary" status, he really never cared for playing live and, though regarded for creativity and garnering respect, never emerged from the status of obscure folk-rock artist.
You can hear the man's chosen reticence in the subdued, fragile delivery of his poetic lyrics. But for this listener, I'm drawn into the mystery of this inhibited musician.
Here, a video that only surfaced on YouTube this past year, he performs "In My Room," "Closing Down the Shop," and "Forever Grateful" — all from his swirling, whirling 1970 album Half Baked.
More stock was put into Half Baked, with the Vertigo label carrying some level of optimism title track would be a successful single amongst the stoned existential sect of the time. There are a large number of Half Baked original pressings out there — so a good one for your collection, if not a particularly valuable one in terms of price tag.
All of that being said, Jimmy Campbell's story is a story of lost potential. He put out some weirdly awesome folk records, though he never quite got his act together, and never had the brazen confidence musicians like The Beatles exhibited and the public very much wanted their rock stars to duplicate. "In My Room" kind of says it all. A song about personal belongings, there's the double-take line "In the poster on my wall, of Hitler, John, and Paul, I see myself." By the end of the song, he's destroying everything in a bonfire.