Classic Clips: Glen Campbell and Leon Russell “Mama Don’t Allow” – In Session, 18th November 1983

Glen Campbell was a multi-talented artist, something his commercial success tended to obscure. One of his many talents was as a phenomenal guitar player who first made a name for himself as a session musician and member of The Wrecking Crew in Los Angeles in the ‘60s. It was as part of The Wrecking Crew that Campbell first met Leon Russell. They both played on countless sessions in the early ‘60s, including adding parts to Willie Nelson’s debut Liberty album in September 1961, which introduced to the world some of Willie’s solo versions of his classic songs, including ‘Hello Walls’, ‘Mr Record Man’, ‘Crazy’, and ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’.

Both Campbell and Russell achieved great success after their time with the Wrecking Crew, and both mixed folk and country influences into their own music. Fast forward to 1983 and Glen Campbell is now seen as an established entertainment superstar, while Russell’s career is coming down from his peak in the ‘70s. It is a cold day in Ontario, Canada, on 18th November 1983 [Editor’s note – the day I turned 11!], when CHCH TV 11 recorded Glen Campbell’s ‘In Session’ TV show with his guest, Leon Russell.

The song ‘Mama Won’t Allow’ was first recorded in the ‘20s with versions by The Memphis Jug Band and Tampa Red, though it was older than that, and has proved popular since with versions by everybody from Doc Watson and  J.J. Cale to Pokey LaFarge. On that cold night in Canada, it is given a free but tight rendition by two musicians who know each other’s styles and capabilities inside out and are clearly having fun. Russell even jokes that there will be no bebop after Campbell suggests they have a little jam.

The recordings have never been issued officially, what is available are video recordings of the actual show. In a way, this makes the music even more enjoyable and gives it a sense of exclusivity. It is as if viewers are just observers catching a glimpse of two great musicians just having fun, but still dazzling with their chops. Paul McCartney reputedly considers Glen Campbell one of the best guitarists, and watching this video it is doubtful anybody would choose to argue with him.

About Martin Johnson 408 Articles
I've been a music obsessive for more years than I care to admit to. Part of my enjoyment from music comes from discovering new sounds and artists while continuing to explore the roots of American 20th century music that has impacted the whole of world culture.
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Wow, thanks for putting this up. Love both of these guys, so talented!!! Shame Glen ended up in such a bad way…..