Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


GOING OUT / Jimmy Webb comes in from the rain

THE CAKE left out in the rain from 'MacArthur Park' was one of the most memorable (and apparently meaningless) images of Sixties' pop. Written as a concerto by Jim Webb, who also arranged and produced the recording, the song featured a pained vocal by a hot-foot-from-Camelot Richard Harris and a swirl of strings so overblown that a less histrionic performance would surely have been drowned out by the first chorus. It was the 'Bat Out of Hell' of its day, and Webb was a boy wonder to rival Phil Spector. A millionaire by the age of 21, around the time the song hit the charts in 1968, Webb had already written 'Up, Up and Away' (for the Fifth Dimension) and the first of his checklist of place-name songs for Glen Campbell ('By the Time I Get to Phoenix', 'Wichita Lineman', 'Galveston') as well as serving out a songwriter's apprenticeship at Tamla Motown. Since those glory days, Webb (now called Jimmy rather than Jim, as if the extra gravitas were no longer needed) has continued to write hits and compose for Hollywood and Broadway, and also to perform his own songs, which may well have been his real ambition all along. He appears in cabaret at the Green Room of the Cafe Royal, where he will perform solo, accompanying himself at the keyboard. Robbed of its orchestral bombast, the beautiful structure of 'MacArthur Park' should stand out all the more. But will Webb tell us what on earth he was on about? (Green Room, Cafe Royal, London W1, 071-437 9090, Tues-3 Sept.)

(Photograph omitted)