|Main Index Page||General Ratings Page||Rock Chronology Page||Song Search Page||New Additions||Message Board|
"Can't say what I'm doing here, but I hope to see much clearer after living in the material world"
|Also applicable:||Lush Pop, Pop Rock|
|Starting Period:||The Artsy/Rootsy Years|
|Also active in:||The Interim Years, The Punk/New Wave Years, The Divided Eighties, From Grunge To The Present Day|
Disclaimer: this page is not written by from the point of view of a George Harrison fanatic and is not generally intended for narrow-perspective George Harrison fanatics. If you are deeply offended by criticism, non-worshipping approach to your favourite artist, or opinions that do not match your own, do not read any further. If you are not, please consult the guidelines for sending your comments before doing so. For information on reviewing principles, please see the introduction. For specific non-comment-related questions, consult the message board.
For reading convenience, please open the reader comments section in a parallel browser window.
There are great geniuses and lesser geniuses in our world, and unfortunately the latter tend to be so completely overshadowed by the former that no one really gives a damn. George Harrison is one of these lesser geniuses. Everybody respects him for his song-and-a-half he's contributed to his greater peers, but when it comes to his solo career he's usually dismissed. The ordinary sentence is: "he gone done that first great whopper and ran out of gas".What I may add is this: his Beatle period songs rate among the Fab Four's best, his first true solo album wasn't just a 'whopper' but rather one of the greatest rock albums of all time, and not even a single of his later releases can be called generic crap - unlike some albums by colleague Sir Paul, for instance. And I'm not joking because I actually took the time to take an unbiased, fresh look and listen at most of George's output. Instead of sucking in some critical preconceptions or just closing your eyes on the man, I suggest you try digging deeper for yourself. True - George's work does have its fair share of defects, which have always prevented him from releasing series of masterpieces. Then again, so have Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. But, while critical approach to these bands has always concentrated on these bands' advantages, the approach to poor George has been uniformly negative. He's being accused of (a) conservatism and (b) preachery, i.e. his melodies are way too formulaic and his lyrics are way too religious. Basing on that, his career after All Things Must Pass has been... oh, well. (For some reason, nobody hurls these accusations at Neil Young, who certainly deserves them as much as George, if not more). This I will reply. Certainly, George's lyrics are preachy. Since his early fascination with Indian philosophy in the mid-Sixties, religious elements have played an extremely significant role in both his lyrics and melodies, often influenced by Indian music. And I'll be the first to admit that at times these subjects can become totally obnoxious - especially later on in his solo career, when he starts stooping to using disgusting tritenesses, as in 'See Yourself' and other tunes, absolutely laughable from a lyrical point of view. But you got to remember one thing: George's spirituality is a deep, one hundred percent authentic one. Only this authenticity has allowed him to release such a masterpiece of spiritual rock music as All Things Must Pass, the greatest 'prayer LP' ever released in the pop genre; no wonder that such a gargantuan epic has left him drained. Drained on original, creative ideas, but not on pure feeling: even when certain songs are melodically vague, they are still saved by the warmth of the man's soul. George's material makes me cry far more often than all the solo records of his colleagues put together, and that probably means something. Next - the melodies. Truthfully, I don't see anything wrong with that. Apart from a couple minor efforts in the Eighties (which do not really count since an absolute majority of Eighties music, especially Eighties 'dinosaur' music, sucked), I can hardly think of a Harrison album that would be unmemorable as a whole. George might not be the 'definite master of hook' like Paul, but he's assembled enough knowledge and experience as a Fab to understand the single most important thing about pop music: a pop song has to have a solid, fluent, and compact melody. When he writes songs, he really writes them - not just tosses off product, but spends enough time on making this product accessible to the general public (not in the bad sense of the word). This explains that, whatever accusations the critics hurled at him, most of his stuff in the Seventies sold relatively well. The main problem I really see about George is not the preachiness of his lyrics (after all, you might just not pay attention to 'em, and anyway, they're still better than AC/DC) and not the triteness of the melodies (which is a blatant untruth). The main problem is that since All Things Must Pass George has really done very few things to make his records 'stand out'. In other words, post-1970 Harrison music has hardly any 'edge' to it - if you're not sticking your head to your stereo with glue you might simply not notice a Harrison album or sleep through it until it's over. He's not 'rocking' - there are no loud, gruff guitars on his songs. He's not experimenting - Brian Eno is not one of his friends. He's not fast, he's not slow - just the same dreary mid-tempo over and over. He repeats himself. He never innovates. But this is his schtick, like it or not; it is not because he can't do any of these things, I'm pretty sure he could if he tried. It's not his goal. George is a quiet, reclusive, religious man, certainly not a hero of his generation - he's humble and modest, which also explains his long-time friendship with Dylan (both have quite a few common features of character). The records he releases are more or less 'homemade' product - like parts of a personal diary. Is a diary supposed to be 'rousing' or 'exciting'? In a certain way - maybe. In that way, and that way only, a Harrison record can also be exciting, for the same conditions. Mind you, I'm not really begging you to dig deep into Harrison's career if you find the man boring. Harrison music is not for everyone - except for All Things Must Pass, which is an absolute must for any music lover's collection, the rest of his output is an acquired taste. I grew up with these records and have grown to love much of this stuff: I do try to take a critical approach, but for the most part, I find few tunes on George's Seventies' records that I don't enjoy. For me, it's like taking an awesome, fascinating journey through a man's most intimate emotions, a journey in which I'm also assisted by his severely underrated melodical skills. Unfortunately, since his short-time comeback with Cloud 9 in 1987 George has pretty much abandoned music - apart from a couple of new songs for soundtracks, a live 1992 album and a collaboration with his ex-colleagues on the Beatles Anthology project, the public has hardly heard anything of him. And the hideous story of his being stabbed by a paranoid fanatic in the late Nineties (obviously going for the fame of Mark Chapman) was hardly a cathalyst for his return onto the stage. I can't blame the man for this retirement, though: obviously, he's finally lost interest in expressing his inner feelings with music, or maybe he finally realized that diaries are diaries and should be kept secret. Who needs new musical output if it's no longer sincere? This is at least a more honest and understandable approach than the one used by Paul, who keeps releasing music because he simply can't go on without releasing music - even if the music he plans to release is crap. PS. Today, November 30th, 2001, George has finally passed away after a long, painful and - in the end - unsuccessful struggle with brain cancer. Don't mourn, don't hold no candles, don't say no speeches. Just put on All Things Must Pass and cue in to the man's message one more time. RIP, George.
Listenability: 5/5. Okay,
I really don't want to deprive him of any points in this department just
due to the debacles of Electronic Sound and 'Apple Jam'. Harrison
is very much listenable even on most of his poorest records.
Resonance: 3/5. A pure 5/5 for the early period, but seriously marred by too much generic preachiness later on.
Originality: 2/5. Well, he mostly learned from his 'older pals', did he not?
Adequacy: 4/5. The preachiness really gets overbearing at times.
Diversity: 2/5. Not this guy's concern, but he did incorporate some different styles along the way.
Overall: 3.2 = C on the rating scale.
READER COMMENTS SECTION
Year Of Release: 1968
Record rating = 5
Overall rating = 8
Err... if you don't mind the Indian crap, you might even enjoy the other one-and-a-half tunes.Best song: WONDERWALL TO BE HERE
Track listing: 1) Microbes; 2) Red Lady Too; 3) Tabla And Pakavaj; 4) In The Park; 5) Drilling A Home; 6) Guru Vandana; 7) Greasy Legs; 8) Ski-ing; 9) Gat Kirwani; 10) Dream Scene; 11) Party Seacombe; 12) Love Scene; 13) Crying; 14) Cowboy Music; 15) Fantasy Sequins; 16) On The Bed; 17) Glass Box; 18) Wonderwall To Be Here; 19) Singing Om.
George's very first venture into the world of solo projects is a semi-obscure soundtrack to some semi-obscure film, and when I first got it I thought it was going to be unlistenable, but I was only two-thirds right. Why? Because about two-thirds of the tunes on here are George's Indian-style improvisations, full of sitars and sarods and tablas and things like that, and they're deadly boring. George might have been a fine adapter of Indian music when it came around to composing real songs, but he just didn't have the guts to make an authentic-sounding Indian tune. Then again, maybe he had, but in that case I'm just not a particular lover of authentic Indian tunes when it comes to sitting down and actually listening to them. I do respect Ravi Shankar - his technique and speed as demonstrated on The Concert For Bangla Desh really amazes me, but this stuff, nope. Not for me. Too generic for my tastes.It's not that I really care, of course, because when taken as nothing but background music, this stuff works just fine. I have nothing against Eastern music, and I'd rather have some background Indian or Chinese sonic effects than a generic country or adult pop record. But there are hardly any reasons for why I should prefer George's stylizations to the originals - they come close to sounding authentic, but wouldn't it be easier to buy something really authentic? Plus, it ends with a 'song' called 'Singing Om' where everybody does exactly that and this means the record is dated as hell, just like the Moody Blues' In Search Of The Lost Chord which also came out that same year and where they were busy doing the same thing. You'd even think they teamed up with George or at least shared the idea with him - if not for the fact that 1968 was the 'Indian year' among British intellectuals. Aw, well, to hell with it, then. Or wait. There are some decent spots on here. Several instrumental compositions have nothing to do with Indian music and are quite listenable, although they're usually much shorter, too. The Eric Clapton solo spot 'Ski-ing' is fun, and it has two guitars constantly changing speakers so it can be fun once you got your earphones. I pity the excellent riff of the composition, though - they could have easily saved it for a more suitable occasion. Instead, it just keeps being repeated over and over again until the song finally falls apart completely and the initiative is carried over to the sitars again. Some of these ditties also demonstrate a strange interest in country-western ('Drilling A Home', 'Cowboy Music') which George seemingly never recreated again. I was kinda astonished on hearing the saloon piano of 'Drilling A Home': Harrison actually wrote that melody? Which, once again, goes to show you, that the man never really forgot his sense of humour, even when he was 'deeply enmeshed in spiritual communion'. When these two numbers come on and attack you out of an ocean of droning sitar wank, it's like you never even hated Garth Brooks, heh heh. Finally, a couple of piano-dominated bits even display talent and genuine passion: 'Wonderwall To Be Here', with a clever use of the Mellotron, isn't particularly 'amazing' because it is certainly a special soundtrackish piece, yet the main classically influenced theme is superb, and it's also very interesting to hear George fiddling around with a Mellotron which he hardly ever did again. A pity it's so short - doesn't even reach a minute and a half in its running time. Plus, repeated listenings really bring out certain clever musical ideas, hidden deep inside the innumerable compositions. For instance, I can't really recognize that instrument that awakens near the middle of 'In The Park'; it sounds like a cross between an electric piano and a sitar (sarod? Man, I really should study these untrivial Indian instruments some day. If it's not an electric harp or something, of course), and the tune itself brilliantly combines Eastern and Western sound patterns - you can't really call that second half of the tune Indian-sounding because it's not. It's like some kind of a tricky medieval harmony put inside an Eastern musical box. Very fascinating. Still, it's a rather hard job for a weak reviewer to go hunting for these snippets of brilliancy hidden in among the entire chaff, and even these are often marred by such ear-damaging numbers as 'Crying' (murky violins imitating crying) or the wailing sirens and 'chewn tape effect' in 'Dream Scene' - which still prompts me to jump up and check my nearby tape recorder even if the actual music is playing from the CD. Well, I suppose there could be more to this record, but I don't really give a damn. A wise move would be to just copy the five or six acceptable tracks onto a tape and get rid of all the rest. On the other hand, it should be also mentioned that the album was really the first music album done by any solo Beatle (John's Two Virgins do not count - I suppose). All of these points - occasional moments of genius plus sheer historical importance - might make it a valuable buy, if you see it for something like ten cents. The track listing here is endless, but it's so insignificant I won't even bother including it in my song index. Have a nice day-o.
READER COMMENTS SECTION
Year Of Release: 1969
Who forgot to turn off the electricity?Best song: where?
Track listing: 1) Under The Mersey Wall; 2) No Time Or Space.
Oops, and I just congratulated George on making real music. This is worse than the worst of John Lennon's experimental albums. Two sides ('Under The Mersey Wall', 'No Time Or Space', although the names don't matter at all) filled with synth noises from George's brand new equipment, this album was probably destined exclusively to show curiosity lovers all the possibilities of this relatively new dingus. There's a lot of them, sure enough, but listening to them now (in fact, listening to them two days after the release of the album) is comparable to using an abacus or something. Recommended only for George Harrison historians. Completists! Don't bother! You have an excuse: this was released on the Zapple label which was created specifically for such things, with absolutely no intent of presenting audiences with masterpieces. Skip it: even a single listen might cause serious ear and brain problems. Curiously enough, the record reached number 191 in the American charts which actually means somebody was buying it. You know, I'm no musician and don't really know A from B, but give me a computer and two hours worth of time and I might come up with something a lot more entertaining. I refuse to rate this because it has about as much relation to music as an old bus rumble. Bye now, I'm off looking for valium.
READER COMMENTS SECTION
Year Of Release: 1970
Record rating = 10
Overall rating = 13
Beautiful, mighty, moving, majestic - these are just a few of the epithetes that can be applied to this masterpiece.Best song: ISN'T IT A PITY (VERSION 1)
Track listing: 1) I'd Have You Anytime; 2) My Sweet Lord; 3) Wah-Wah; 4) Isn't It A Pity (Version 1); 5) What Is Life; 6) If Not For You; 7) Behind That Locked Door; 8) Let It Down; 9) Run Of The Mill; 10) Beware Of Darkness; 11) Apple Scruffs; 12) Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll); 13) Awaiting On You All; 14) All Things Must Pass; 15) I Dig Love; 16) Art Of Dying; 17) Isn't It A Pity (Version 2); 18) Hear Me Lord; 19) Out Of The Blue; 20) It's Johnny's Birthday; 21) Plug Me In; 22) I Remember Jeep; 23) Thanks For The Pepperoni.
The greatest double LP of all time, and that's saying something: in terms of epicness and sweeping grandiosity, it kicks The White Album out of the window (in certain other terms, it does not, of course - mainly because it's nowhere near as diverse and intriguing - but it takes a lot of gall to beat White Album in at least one respect). Did I say 'double'? Actually, it's triple; however, the third record is actually nothing much but a handful of jams ('Apple Jam', it's called) some parts of which are pretty nice, but a whole record of instrumental jams is indeed hard to endure (of course, it goes without saying that they are much more entertaining than the last two albums). And these aren't even cool jams: just lengthy, monotonous drones without any distinctive soloing or special atmospheres. Ordinary background muzak for only the most hardcore blues-rock addicts to enjoy. Stupid move: as much as I'm fascinated with the main part of the album, I have no choice but to detract one point for such mindless 'experimentation', thus denying George the possibility of enjoying the same 4-star rating as his more fortunate colleagues John and Paul. The CD release makes things even worse, as you realize that by eliminating this stupid jam session they could have managed to fit the entire album onto one laser disc and turn it into one of the most worthwhile spendings of money ever possible. (Not to mention the possibility of digging out some outtakes - be on the lookout for the famous Beware Of ABKCO! bootleg, for instance, that features excellent acoustic demos of much of the material plus other tracks that didn't make it onto the final product, some of which are quite pleasant).In any case, 'Apple Jam' only detracts us from George, and it doesn't even have much to do with him - it's only representative of his session band. Which, by the way, was the same band that produced Eric Clapton's first solo album as Delaney, Bonnie & Friends and part of which later formed Derek And The Dominos: an excellent backing ensemble. Eric played on the album, too, and it shows - some of the solos on this record leave you breathless. Isn't it interesting, by the way, that Eric's most 'minimalistically beautiful' work can only be found on George Harrison recordings? Talk about influences... The record itself was produced by Phil Spector, and somehow Phil and George managed to find each other on here. I didn't actually mention that bootleg for nothing - it's downright fascinating to compare the original demos, played with just an acoustic guitar for rhythm, with what they evolved into after all the laborious work of Phil and company. Phil applies all his usual gimmicks: a heavy brass section, swooping orchestration, booming, echoey drums, and above all - layers and layers and layers of guitars, most of them practically unheard in the mix, but all heavily contributing to the final effect. And that effect? An anthemic, majestic, grandiose statement of faith, compassion and love from a dude who was finally glad to break out of the Fab Four's oppressive yoke and let loose his emotions. The critics at the time were astounded - yes, George had always given some hopes, with occasional gems on occasional Beatles records, but nobody was really sure if his work could be consistent enough for an entire LP, not to mention a double LP. It could. Eighteen songs on this double LP, and every one a gem: some minor, some major, but there's not even a single track among these that would, to me, reek of filler (again, out of all double LPs I've heard, only The Beatles can compare in that respect). In fact, perverse as it might seem, that's the problem: the album grabs you up by the neck and holds you in a cathartic state for such a long time that it really wears you down - this is not listening for relaxation, this is listening for purification, plain and simple. Eighty minutes worth of musical orgasm. I would have enjoyed a couple more lightweight tunes on here in addition to 'Apple Scruffs' and 'I Dig Love', and quite a few people find this to be a major fault of the album: monotonous and repetitive. That said, no melody ever gets repeated twice, and the moods of the songs do vary more than, say, the overall contemplative/compassionate mood of Pet Sounds. There's some romantism, some preachiness, some meditation, some pity, some joy, and some... well, let's move on to the songs. Beautiful ballads adorned with George's wonderful singing and painfully sincere guitar solos are found here in abundance. The Dylan collaboration 'I'd Have You Anytime' is beauty epitomised, and Dylan's own 'If Not For You' is one of those rare cases where the master is really beaten by the disciple. 'If Not For You', in its finished version placed on this album, almost speaks to the listener through its guitars: these guitars live and smell of morning beauty and early flowers and love and glory. (Sorry, it's hardly possible not to engage in a bit of word poetry when discussing the album). And there's hardly anything more memorable on the album than the simple, but genial melody of 'Behind That Locked Door' - George shows a lot of skill in pushing forward the boundaries of a pop song by changing chords in the most unpredictable, yet totally natural and exciting, manner. The ballads, however, tend to be overshadowed by the 'heavier' numbers - played at maximum volume, they literally rattle the walls. Thus, the great riff-fest 'Wah-Wah', in which George condemns the life of a star and celebrates his 'retreat', sounds like about ten thousand instruments at one time; of course, given the Spector treatment, I couldn't guarantee that it's not really ten thousand instruments, but whatever be, the effect is shattering, so that I'm even able to forgive the barely audible vocals, buried in the utmost depths of the cyclopean mix. The song also contains some stunning instrumental brass sections, culminating in a musical thunderstorm virtually unmatched in rock music. Other songs, like 'Let It Down', combine a soft/powerful approach - the beautiful balladeering of the verses as opposed to yet another mastodontic chorus. And over all supreme rules 'Art Of Dying', the fastest number on record: highlighted by a soaring lead guitar part, it occupies all five of your senses so completely that you don't even get the message at first. And that message? 'Nothing in this life that I've been trying/Can equal or surpass the Art of Dying'. Pretty grim, isn't it? (Oh, of course, it's about reincarnation rather than just dying, but doesn't make the subject matter any more lightweight, as one can guess). There's more on here. As you might guess, much too often George enters into direct communication with his gracious Maker - and this blend of gospel and rock is one of the most successful in the business, combining brilliant production, unforgettable hooks and, above all, the utmost sincerity. Everybody knows 'My Sweet Lord', the major hit off the album which is quite frequently played on the radio, and certainly everybody knows the stupid story when George was successfully sued for plagiarizing the Chiffons' 'He's So Fine' for writing it. We'll leave that problem as it is; suffice it to say that I have heard the 'original', and I must say that there definitely were tons of far more obvious rip-offs in rock'n'roll history which, for some strange reason, were left unnoticed. Even if it is a rip-off, it elevates the Chiffons' ordinary R'n'B tune to the state of a soaring religious anthem - and the delicious guitar phrases that 'bookmark' the beginning and the culminating peak of the song seem to grab the very essence of the record: beauty, catchiness, and deep emotionality. A large chunk of the record is dedicated to George's philosophical excourses - with lyrics ranking among his most brilliant and hard-hitting; if you don't believe me, try comparing the preachiness of 'Run Of The Mill' with the six-year later banality of, say, 'See Yourself', and you'll be struck by George's competent mastery of certain Eastern schools of thought (and how he successfully lost that mastery in the next few years). 'Beware Of Darkness' is profound and mystical; and the title track, with its 'anti-vanity' message, is stately and almost regal in its totally justified pomposity. And, finally, just when you're feeling that you're really starting to lose it, with all those piles of majesty and catharsis descending on you, George shows us he still hasn't lost that precious bit of good humour that was always characteristic of the Beatles - remember 'Piggies' and 'Savoy Truffle'? There's a couple of cute comedy numbers, like the countryish, harmonica-and-slide-driven shuffle 'Apple Scruffs' (irony on the Fab Four's commercial 'talents', of course, but also a way of cheering up the real 'apple scruffs' - Beatle fans littering the threshold of Apple Studios all through the years), and the novelty number 'I Dig Love' - the one that's built on four chords played in the opposite directions and punctuated by thunderous drumfills from... from Ringo, apparently. Sounds like a dumb idea, but it works - the tune really gets you going, and after a while I'm already attacking these air drums with all my might. Some people are never entirely happy, of course - so they say the album's too long. Maybe. Maybe that's why I'm not a terrible fan of the closing prayer - 'Hear Me Lord'; I guess I'm just left a bit too much exhausted at the very end. But if you're strong, you'll make it. And, as a dessert, I'll just have to mention the magnum opus of the album - the two versions of "Isn't It A Pity" which may be the most depressing song ever written. Maybe not, though. The lyrics condemn people who have no heart - it is often thought that the song is about the Beatles again, but I suppose its message is far, far broader - and the whole situation is supposed to look grim and desperate, but there's just something about the music that meshes a little drop of optimism into the wailings: unlike 'While My Guitar', for instance, which almost implies a suicidal mood, there's light at the end of the tunnel here. Perhaps it's represented by the resplendent guitar solo that's every bit as climactic as the one in 'Guitar' without being so loud and overbearing. Perhaps by a hidden gimmick - if you listen closely to the lengthy three-minute chant of 'pity pity' that finishes off the tune, you'll be able to hear faint sounds of people chanting 'Da - da-da da-da-da-d-da... da-da-da-d-da...' in the background. Remind you of something? It took me years and a hint from the Live In Japan album to notice that. I haven't mentioned all the songs (and there's more - the stomping 'What Is Life' and 'Awaiting On You All' and the plaintive 'Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp' are not any worse than the rest), but it's not really necessary: if the album only contained 'Isn't It A Pity' and 'My Sweet Lord', it would already be worth placing onto the utmost level of rock hierarchy. It marred Harrison's further career, too: obviously, topping such an effort was a task unimaginable, and this - consequently - led too many of the fans and critics to the dismissal of all the rest. So maybe you'll take this advice from me: if you'd like to seriously dig into Harrison, save this album for last. Buying it first will induce neglection and loathing of everything inferior. I know I almost suffered that fate, and it took a long time to appreciate the rest of his stuff. But, of course, if you're not planning on a Harrison collection, start here - no rock collection is imaginable without a copy of Things. Quite frankly, it's rock at its most powerful - this is grandiose and pompous par excellence, and a rare case where grandiosity and pomposity are completely adequate and acceptable even by those who hate grandioseness with their rock music.
READER COMMENTS SECTION
Year Of Release: 1971
Record rating = 8
Overall rating = 11
A fantastically entertaining performance, even though I've heard better.Best song: WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS
Track listing: 1) George Harrison/Ravi Shankar Introduction; 2) Bangla Dhun; 3) Wah-Wah; 4) Awaiting On You All; 5) My Sweet Lord; 6) That's The Way God Planned It; 7) It Don't Come Easy; 8) Beware Of Darkness; 9) While My Guitar Gently Weeps; 10) Jumpin' Jack Flash/Young Blood; 11) Here Comes The Sun; 12) It's A Hard Rain A-Gonna Fall; 13) It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry; 14) Blowin' In The Wind; 15) Mr Tambourine Man; 16) Just Like A Woman; 17) Something; 18) Bangla Desh.
There are certain live performances which not only distinguish themselves because of their historic importance, but just because they are an awful lot of fun - even though their quality might be sloppy. This is exactly the case with this one. It does have a lot of historical importance, being one of the first, if not the first, great beneficiary gala rock concert, not to mention minor important factors like dragging both Dylan and Clapton into the spotlight from their seclusion. But what makes it such a rewarding buy is the diversity and general atmosphere. Originally it was a triple live set which included the whole concert; the main problem with making it such was that the concert was really too short for a proper triple set. This means that you have to sit through the complete break between the main set and the 'Bangla Desh' encore which is about two or three minutes of nothing but applause, and sometimes such tricks get real nasty. On the other hand, the lack of selection and interspersing of material makes up for a really fascinating listen: the guests (Ringo, Bob Dylan, Billy Preston, Leon Russell and the opening Ravi Shankar) and the host (George, of course) keep following each other so that nothing ever gets boring. Well, with one possible exception. Ravi Shankar and his Indian musings completely dominate Side 1 of LP 1, contributing the side-long 'Bangla Dhun', and if you don't hold a soft spot for Indian music, you'd better reconsider buying this on CD - it might not be worth your money. Me, I'm not offended: I agree with George that Ravi is a great musician, and even if I never ever in my sordid life would buy a Shankar record, I still have enough patience to endure his twenty-minute set on here. Well, you just have to have a soft spot for Eastern music hidden somewhere in your heart, I guess.But - apart from this possible drawback and Billy Preston's generic gospel number ('That's The Way God Planned It') which makes me cringe (good God! isn't that the guy who played on 'Get Back' and the Stones' Black And Blue?), there is not a single complaint here. Ringo comes out from behind the drum set to perform 'It Don't Come Easy', definitely one of his best solo compositions. The great piano hero Leon Russell comes up with a fantastic medley of 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' and the golden oldie 'Young Blood' (go figure), miraculously turning both into driving, adrenaline-raising, ravenous funk of the highest quality. As for Dylan, who was brought out to play his first set in several years - the early Seventies were a serious crisis period for Bob - surprisingly enough, he plays a very strong acoustic set, being given a whole side, and he truly deserves it. For Dylan completists, it's about the only place where you can find the man engaging in a fun acoustic version of 'It Takes A Train To Cry', while all the other songs are standards like 'Mr Tambourine Man' or 'Blowing In The Wind'. George's own numbers are mostly taken from All Things Must Pass, with a fair addition of his late-period Beatle hits; while a perfect recreation of the "wall of sound" technique was hardly possible in a live environment, he tries to come as close to the original as possible, with the help of a host of backing musicians. Besides himself, Eric Clapton, and Jesse Ed Davies on electric guitars, the whole trusty Badfinger band is there as well, faithfully strumming the acoustic guitars that, according to Phil Spector, should be "felt but not heard". A pity Badfinger weren't actually given the stage at any point - they were at their creative peak at the time. Or maybe they were, but the album never features them. 'My Sweet Lord' is somewhat shabby compared to the original, but the more bombastic numbers ('Wah-Wah', 'Awaiting On You All') cook. The pure acoustic version of 'Here Comes The Sun' is pure beauty. And the host of guitarists proves especially useful when it's time for 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps': the clever George doesn't even try to reproduce the studio sound here, instead letting the multiple soloists take over the job, and the coda features some of the most fantastic and electrifying guitar interplay I've ever heard. First it's just one 'weeping' guitar, then another joins in, then a third one, maybe a fourth one, and it goes on and on until you drop dead out of your chair. I tell you: you will not ever hear anything even remotely close to that kind of effect. What do I say? You just have to get to hear this one. It's far more interesting than the Lynyrd Skynyrd live interplay and their triple-guitar attack on 'Freebird', cool as it is. For George completists: besides all the classics, this is also the natural place to be a-hearin' that hymn George wrote for the poor people of that poor Asian country. It may not be one of his best compositions, but it sure is one of his good, and listening to it makes it obvious that George actually cared about the country and his poor Eastern friends. It grows on you and is quite engaging, and the accelerating tempo at the end, when the band launches into a break-neck speed jam, is quite fascinating. Oh, what the heck. Unfortunately, I've heard rumours those poor people never got anything out of the concert - in fact, only the taxmen got something. Hey George, why didn't we get to hear 'Taxman'?
READER COMMENTS SECTION
Year Of Release: 1973
Record rating = 9
Overall rating = 12
A really nice try, but sounding just a bit too monotonous and weak compared to the beginnings...Best song: SUE ME SUE YOU BLUES
Track listing: 1) Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth); 2) Sue Me Sue You Blues; 3) The Light That Has Lighted The World; 4) Don't Let Me Wait Too Long; 5) Who Can See It; 6) Living In The Material World; 7) The Lord Loves The One (That Loves The Lord); 8) Be Here Now; 9) Try Some Buy Some; 10) The Day The World Gets 'Round; 11) That Is All.
All Things had just one drawback. It was so incredibly, so unbelievably great that it was of no use to try and duplicate its success, not to mention even trying to produce anything better. Yes, it's easy to see that this album follows closely in its footsteps. But the 'wall-of'sound' is gone, the backing musicians are new and don't gel so well together (probably because of not having played all the Apple Jam sessions!), and, worst of all, George has lost his top form. The songs are still mostly OK, but that fresh thrill seems gone forever - from now on, it's all downhill and more than downhill. Here George mainly plays the entertaining role of an adept of the Lord Sri Krishna (the liner notes even include an image depicting the key scene of "Bhagavadgita"), sometimes forsaking the melody for preachy lyrics - something which would become the norm a couple of years later. Darn it, George, where's that jolly dark-headed youth ripping the audiences apart with 'Roll Over Beethoven'? The lyrics are dangerously treading the border between inventive and banal; while on some songs George is still holding the mark of All Things ('The Light That Has Lighted The World', 'Who Can See It'), others start to betray signs of falling into cliched genericness (title track; 'The Lord Loves The One'), as if George was already tired of having to come up with fresh and original lyrical ideas, preferring to rely on things formulated long before.Nevertheless, lyrical quabblings aside, Living In The Material World is still as good as it gets; unquestionably George's second best studio album, and a worthy 'minor brother' to its bombastic predecessor. George is the only guitar player on the album this time, and he really lets loose with his wonderful, warm slide and steel guitar playing that turn this into a more homely, intimate experience than before; Gary Wright and Nicky Hopkins add colourful piano; and the never changing Jim Keltner and Richard Starkey handle the pounding drums. The couple of energetic rockers that did get on here sound particularly good. The title track is a generic, but re-worked R'n'B pattern with great guitarwork and a steady beat that generates a lot of excitement despite the pretty dumb lyrics ('hope to get out of this place by the LORD SRI KRISHNA'S GRACE'). And my favourite, the bluesy 'Sue Me Sue You Blues' (bluesy blues sounds good, doesn't it?) is built around a magnificent riff played with gusto on a steel guitar; it is also the most biting tune on here, dealing with the post-Beatles' frustrations and their having a bone to pick with each other ('bring your lawyer and I'll bring mine/Get together, we can have a bad time'). Together with the earlier 'For You Blue', this is a song that amply demonstrates Harrison's talents as a potential bluesman: it's a pity he so rarely toyed with the genre - his guitar playing style would have been a unique contribution to it. The rest is typical 'Harrigospel': keyboards a la Procol Harum (no wonder Gary Brooker was a big pal; he doesn't play here, but he did contribute to All Things), 'heavenly' guitar solos a la Dave Gilmour in a soft mood, and religious lyrics. But don't take that as a denigration: the formula hits steadily, and some of these numbers grab you and hold you down almost as hard as any stuff on All Things. I, for one, am regularly moved to tears by the majestic 'Who Can See It', with its breathtaking melody twists, and find the graceful, stately ending of 'That Is All' to be an excellent album closing number - funny how the lyrics sound just like a heartfelt, uplifting prayer, when the melody is so deeply depressing. 'The Light That Has Lighted The World' is a bit pleonastic in the light of the superior and similar 'Who Can See It', but still stands proudly on its own. And 'The Lord Loves The One' is catchy as hell. Sure, some of the numbers are rather lightweight ('The Day The World Gets 'Round' ) and at least one is just nasty, booooorrrrriiing to the extreme (the lengthy mantra 'Be Here Now'; okay, it's not that lengthy, but it seems like ages to me; it's structured according to the quiet, noodling 'Long Long Long' formula, but is nowhere near as melodic). And yet all of them are easily compensated by two more major highlights: besides the already mentioned 'Sue Me Sue You Blues' which happens to be my favourite, these are the hit single 'Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)' and the anti-commercial anthem 'Try Some Buy Some'. To me, they are a wee wee bit overrated, since the first one is somewhat repetitive and the second one is just a bit dull, even though the refrain is one of the most memorable pieces of music here. Hey, if that's the case, how can the whole song be dull? Hmm, let me rethink that... well, no, I actually like it. I don't understand why I wrote I didn't. Maybe only because of the style? Well, frankly speaking, I ought to be deleting these crazy last three or four lines already, but I won't in order for you to understand my creative process. Just buy this album. You won't be falling all over it, but everybody needs a little Sri Krishna in his life. Actually, while we're on the 'commercial' side of the problem, this is an easier first Harrison buy than All Things, as many people seem to be seriously put down by the former's 2-CD price. This one is single, doesn't feature any excessive bluesy jams, and is only a short step down the top of the staircase; so if you're worried about the budget, or if you care to arrive at the 'grand prize' working all the way up, Living In The Material World is eagerly waiting for you in the stores. Thankfully, it shows no signs of going out of print... not yet, at least.
READER COMMENTS SECTION
Year Of Release: 1974
Record rating = 7
Overall rating = 10
Dark Hoarse? Whatever be, the melodies are still darn fine.Best song: MAYA LOVE
Track listing: 1) Hari's On Tour (Express); 2) Simply Shady; 3) So Sad; 4) Bye Bye Love; 5) Maya Love; 6) Ding Dong Ding Dong; 7) Dark Horse; 8) Far East Man; 9) It Is He (Jai Sri Krishna).
'Maya Love'! OOOOH I LOVE this song! You know how it goes? There's this scary keyboard riff coming in, then, when the moody atmosphere is set, the guitar and drums introduce the main theme and George goes off singing: 'Maya love! Maya love! Love is like a sea - flowing in and out of me!' after which comes my favourite moment - the all-out rocking four piano notes interspersing with mighty drumming. Aww, it's intoxicating. The instrumental breaks are fine, too, and these cool piano notes crop up frequently enough for you to enjoy them fully, but not enough for you to get bored of 'em, and God knows I adore a catchy piano note. The drums, however, are what catches the attention here (who was that? Ringo? Jim Keltner? And I don't even know!): they're driven so high in the mix you could almost complain, and yet, for some reason, you don't. Ooh, I could drool on like that for hours, but I have to admit there are other songs on here, too...Overall, this isn't one of the strongest albums for George. He had suddenly lost his voice - temporarily, due to pneumonia or some other illness, but for some reason went ahead and recorded all the vocal tracks anyway. And even though I sometimes experience a nearly masochistic feeling of being quite satisfied with most of his vocal efforts, it's clear things were not going well at the time (his only solo tour fared miserably because he had to take care of his throat after each show, so I heard he finally cancelled it). The critics, already not quite amused with Living In The Material World, went ahead and nearly annihilated poor George on that one - 'Dark Hoarse' was the most frequent epithet at the time, and George's commercial star went in decline as Paul's commercial star rocketed to the skies. They're all wrong, of course. Repeated listenings bring out the essence of Dark Horse - George's sense of melody is still fresh and strong, and he still hasn't forgotten the main point of Beatles songwriting: no matter what you have to express in a song, its listenability and catchiness are always a major priority. And while the level of preachiness is growing at an alarming rate, together with dangerous statements of PC ('Far East Man' - why hasn't Lennon recorded a song like that?) and George's further decline into Krishnaism ('Jai Sri Krishna'), I can't really drive a knife deep down into the heart of any of these songs because I can't accuse them of being unmelodic or unmemorable. Yes, George's voice is painful to listen to (not always, though), many of the lyrics are obnoxious, the strange jazzy arrangements don't always work, and yet I still hold a soft spot for this album in my heart, because the core of the songs is good, and a couple of them still bring me to tears. Actually, George's vocals completely butcher just one composition - the title track, which is otherwise a nice acoustic shuffle with elements of autobiographical character. The version on Live In Japan brings out the song's potential in a more evident way. Other minor highlights here include the marvelous, bitter 'So Sad' with its mounting tension in the refrain - this album's take on 'Isn't It A Pity', only with a more paranoid atmosphere to it (how could David Wilson say there are no remarkable melodies on this album? Here's one!). The pop hit 'Ding Dong Ding Dong' sounds a little dorky and dumb, but it's hard to resist its warm sing-along nature, like it's hard to resist a super-duper catchy number from ABBA; and the already mentioned PC anthem 'Far East Man' (co-written with Ronnie Wood!) flows along so smoothly and convincingly that I'm fully able to forgive the weak lyrics. Of course, it's really strange that George preferred to go to the studio instead of a doctor and so made himself a ready target for the snake-tongued critics, but, well, I guess I shouldn't mess around with his personal life. Fact is, he manages to render lots of these songs practically unlistenable for an unprepared listener, and this, combined with the gleeful fact that some of the songs are just what I'd call 'a gift to dinosaur-haters' (besides the title track, this accounts for the irresistingly lame cover of Simon & Garfunkel's 'Bye Bye Love' dedicated to his breakup with Patti; I wonder if Eric Clapton played guitar on that one? That Krishnaite mantra at the end sounds like a goofy parody, too, especially with all these 'bubbling' bass noises at the end), well, all of these things just don't make this album a really good buy. I give it a 7 because I've listened to it about five hundred times and grown to love the good stuff because the melodies shine through, and, anyway, since I love Dylan's voice, it's a little easier to assimilate George's ailing one; but I confess that a first listen will be real painful for anybody. And not anybody is ready to listen to a Harrison album for five hundred times! P.S. I just verified for sure that Eric does play on 'Bye Bye Love'. Well, what can I say? George must be a really humble guy: not only he lets his wife get away with his best friend after his best friend has written tons of songs about how he wants her, he also lets his best friend help him in creating his own song of lamentation... No offense, Patti, but how does it feel to be a rugby ball?
READER COMMENTS SECTION
Year Of Release: 1975
Record rating = 7
Overall rating = 10
Preachy and dark, although the melody-making skills are still there.Best song: YOU. Maybe THE ANSWER'S AT THE END
Track listing: 1) You; 2) The Answer's At The End; 3) This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying); 4) Ooh Baby (You Know That I Love You); 5) World Of Stone; 6) A Bit More Of You; 7) Can't Stop Thinking About You; 8) Tired Of Midnight Blue; 9) Grey Cloudy Lies; 10) His Name Is Legs (Ladies And Gentlemen).
This is a pretty good album, but man did it take me a lot of time to get brave enough to state it on pa... er, in virtual cyberspace. (Christ, I should really print these reviews out some day). In fact, I originally wrote a totally lameass review here, giving the record 6 out of 10, but I was dead wrong as usual and had to rewrite everything from scratch. Truth is, it's very, very tempting to put down Extra Texture as a particularly murky spot on George's reputation; recorded at a really dire period, with the voice uncured, the songwriting talent diminished, the pool of original ideas exhausted and the commercial success nearly non-existent, it never earned any positive reviews and is universally regarded as one of George's weakest moments.Which it certainly ain't - Somewhere In England, for instance, is a much weaker album than this one. All of the above remarks are true; yet also true is the fact that I don't see a single bad song on here (maybe one, but let's deal with it later). I try to be careful with such things, as I'm usually very well-disposed towards George and thus have a bias from the beginning; but as time goes by, Extra Texture only sounds better and better in my ears. And what is it, prithee, that your ears find so pleasing about it? Why, the doggone melodies, of course - a whole load of fine, memorable, catchy, and quite often emotionally resonant melodies that all shake my soulhouse down to its foundation. Okay, to the second story, I give you, All Things it ain't. There are some slight changes in the sound, of course. George's voice gets better - it's somewhat different after the flu, a bit higher than before, and it seems harder for him to hit the right notes, but he mostly hits them anyway. As for the instrumentation, the arrangements are more lush, with a heavy emphasis on synthesizers that occupy the background on most occasions. This is probably another problem for the casual listener: the album seriously lacks the 'personal' atmosphere of the two previous ones. But for some reason, I don't find it a problem for me, and am I really better than the casual listener? Heck. Listeners, don't be casual. I hate casual people. Be uncasual. Dig this album. The best two songs actually open the album - so for the first six or seven minutes, you might even think this is gonna be a real blast. The minor hit single, 'You', despite its obviousness, is hard to resist, with a groovy Phil Spector-ish bounce and a wonderful way of George telling us that 'I love You and You love me' and nothing else for a whole minute and twenty seconds (like in: 'I... I-i... love... lo-ove... well I, I love... you-ooo-ooo... yeah you-ooo..', etc.). You might think the idea sounds dumb on pa... er, in virtual cyberspace... nah, on paper again, because George probably did write these lyrics down, but anyway, it's resolved in a purely genial way. And on every Harrison album there is at least one song that moves me to tears; here, it is the gorgeous 'The Answer's At The End', with lyrics already sliding down the path of "clicheedness" but a wonderful, tear-jerking melody compensating. Well, I find the middle-eight not grappling at all, but those main verses, wow... Harrison was a real master of tension build-up. As for the other stuff - well, it's up to you to take or leave anything here. Critics have derided 'This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying)' for being a lame sequel to 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', and they're probably right. But it's not the fault of the song itself - Harrison made a fatal mistake in making it look like a sequel. It's actually a good, tolerable, moving song, with excellent lead guitar work from the master, but the title, lyrics, and general structure and atmosphere can't help but draw comparisons with the far superior Beatles number, so naturally the song suffers. 'Ooh Baby (You Know That I Love You)' and 'Can't Stop Thinking About You' are solid, hook-filled "soul-pop" ditties that don't sound all that different from each other, but then again, neither do any two selected AC/DC numbers, so why bother? They're good. 'Tired Of Midnight Blue' is a deeply strange number, a moody lounge tune full of (tasteful) cabaret piano; it certainly wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Bryan Ferry record, but I'm a Ferry admirer and I don't mind either. And 'Grey Cloudy Lies' is... eh... okay. The only major misfire, may I say it, is the closing number, 'His Name Is Legs (Ladies And Gentlemen)'. (What's the matter with all the parentheses in this album (anyway)? (A whole) three of the songs (seem to) have parentheses to them, and this looks (a bit) uncanny (to me (although it might look uncanny for other people too (to you (for instance (perhaps)))))). It is all based on a very corny-sounding repetitive musical phrase and almost evades classification. Boogie? Jazz-rock? More of that cabaret stuff? Lengthy and boring it is, in any case. Then again, maybe I'm being a bit too subjective here. Ah heck, it's a really strange case - I must be the only person in the world who thinks really high of these songs, but I'm not a jerk and I'm not a freak, so with a little patience, I suppose, these songs might come through to anybody. Good album.
READER COMMENTS SECTION
Year Of Release: 1976
Record rating = 8
Overall rating = 11
Well, this finally sounds like a rock album. Keep up the good work!Best song: WOMAN DON'T YOU CRY FOR ME
Track listing: 1) Woman Don't You Cry For Me; 2) Dear One; 3) Beautiful Girl; 4) This Song; 5) See For Yourself; 6) It's What You Value; 7) True Love; 8) Pure Smokey; 9) Crackerbox Palace; 10) Learning How To Love You.
The title actually refers not as much to the revolving speed as to George's age at the time, which naturally means the record is going to be about nothing in particular. However, it does sound fresh, no matter what you think about it: for once George has somewhat modified his formula and tried to make the music somewhat more 'variegated', if you know what I mean. It's more lively, diverse and colourful, and even if you're not a Harrison fan, but are willing to get into the groove, you'll be able to; this is not such an obvious 'meditative' kind of listen, as was Extra Texture.If you still don't get my bumbly blurbs, I'll try and make a valid explanation. See, there is a bit of the usual preachy stuff here. Worse, where George once used to easily get away with preachiness by means of wonderful arrangements or interesting lyrics, he is now mellowing out and becoming far more shallow (I guess we all only have a limited share of intellect - just look at what happened to, say, Ray Davies in the Seventies). The disgusting, generic parable of 'See Yourself' is a typical example - George is falling back on trivial religious cliches, which I can hardly stand. Likewise, the slow acoustic mantra of 'Dear One' just bores me to death; where are those sweeping vocal harmonies and awe-inspiring organs of 'My Sweet Lord'? Gone they are, replaced by feeble acoustic strumming and monotonous slow-paced whining. But on the other hand, the filler, however anticlimactic it might be, is fully compensated for by the prettier material. I trust you, for instance, to deny such a terrific catchy pop ballad as 'Beautiful Girl'. You won't be able to do that, mainly because the song upon closer inspection turns out to be an All Things Must Pass outtake, and with just a few golden touches by somebody like Phil Spector would have easily turned into a masterpiece of that caliber (I suppose George didn't include it because of the rather lightweight subject matter - after all, how many pure love ballads are there on All Things? One or two, not more). Also, a couple of tracks on here actually try to rock out, which is by now highly unusual for a George album. The record kicks off with a strong drumming pattern leading into 'Woman Don't You Cry For Me': essentially, it's just an ordinary blues-rock number with a tinge of funk (love that crazy rhythm section), but somehow George manages to lock his band into an incredibly tight unit, plays some colourful slide guitar and demonstrates that he's finally overcome the troubles with his voice. And the other rockin' number reflects his growing passion with car races ('It's What You Value'); the keyboard/drum interplay strongly reminds one of 'Maya Love', so it's good. These tracks you can actually dance to, and maybe even transform them into potential mighty rock swingers - again, with a little editing and re-mastering. They're fine. So I'm trying to express my idea of why this album is better than the previous one, and maybe I'll put it this way: this album has a retro sound, something like that you could have been a-hearin' around 1964 or so (of course, with different lyrics and different arrangements). The songs are short and catchy, the arrangements are simple (no All Things-like bombast at all), and the album ends off way too quick. Lightweight, too - maybe I shouldn't reproach George that some of the lyrics are really dumb (I've already mentioned 'See Yourself', and some others come close to it). The idea was obviously to make a lightweight album. Forget it. The hit was 'Crackerbox Palace', a decent pop ear-catcher like most of the others, but one can also enjoy the Side 2 tunes 'True Love' (actually, 'True-ooo-uuue-ooo-uuue-oo Love'), 'Pure Smokey' and even the closing 'Learning How To Love You' if your earpower is strong enough to hear it - I usually get the message only with the volume adjusted to the maximum. In headphones. But you do that and you'll notice the melody. It does come through pretty quickly. I tell you, if somebody is engifted with the gift of writing good melodies, that gift doesn't go away all by itself. You need some really strong stimulant to make it disappear. Like signing a contract with Warner Bros, for instance. Or choosing Phil Collins as your producer. Something like that. Overall, my main complaint should be that some of these songs still sound like half-assed remakes of the early successes from All Things and Material World, but this complaint is appliable to all of his later stuff, Cloud 9 excepted. So as not to replicate this paragraph in half a dozen other reviews, I prefer to dump it on here and... guess what? I'm going to put a target here so that you can be referred to this paragraph from other places where you really need it. There! I gone done it! Now what I was talking about? Oh! Well, yes, like I said, all the preachy and religious stuff is really recycled (not for the first time already), and loses ninety percent of its former impact in the process, but if you don't have any problem with recycling of good music, you shouldn't be too worried about that. And, by the way, as far as I know, the album did slightly better for George on the charts: no wonder some of those critics who subconsciously judge an artist's work through his sales always point at Extra Texture as George's absolute 'rock bottom'. With 33 1/3, George finally found relative peace with himself and society - slipping into a quiet and relaxed image, with a mixed optimistic-pessimistic view of the world as opposed to the grimness of his previous musical philosophy. I don't know if that had anything to do with the end of his famous trial for plagiarizing 'My Sweet Lord' from the Chiffons, though. Honest.
READER COMMENTS SECTION
Year Of Release: 1979
Record rating = 6
Overall rating = 9
This is where preachiness and lightweightness starts to metamorphose into blandness.Best song: NOT GUILTY
Track listing: 1) Love Comes To Everyone; 2) Not Guilty; 3) Here Comes The Moon; 4) Soft-Hearted Hana; 5) Blow Away; 6) Faster; 7) Dark Sweet Lady; 8) Your Love Is Forever; 9) Soft Touch; 10) If You Believe.
Hmm. Well, no matter what I wrote about 33 & 1/3, forget it. This album is dull. Maybe I haven't listened to it quite as much as I should, but at least I know it sounds different. This, too, is an obvious happy pop album (although his reliance on synthesizers on some tracks is really annoying), but it also sounds like a 'sequel': in other words, it relates to 33 as Emotional Rescue refers to Some Girls, as Tusk relates to Rumours, as It's Hard relates to Face Dances... you get my drift. And what distinguishes a 'sequel' album from the original is that the songs are usually more stupid and melodyless. Well, forget 'melodyless': George is usually careful enough to make accusations of 'lack of melody' senseless. I can't say these rhythm tracks or vocal harmonies are a hundred percent generic because they're not. What annoys me is that a large percent of this work is tremendously formulaic. George hauls out his slide guitar again and makes a generally more bombastic-sounding sonic picture, perhaps hoping to recapture some of the glorious magic of old - I'd bet you anything that his reviving at least one old Beatles outtake on here ('Not Guilty') has to do with the same thing. But something just doesn't click; the album fails to inspire me or even intrigue me, because, well, we've heard it all before. The overall blandness of the arrangements and the fact that there ain't even a single punchy rocker on here just kills the excitement for me. It ain't dreadful or anything - it all sounds pleasant and harmless, and if you axe me, it's kinda refreshing to see that George didn't sacrifice his formula for the sakes of, eh, disco, for instance, but this is only a consideration which is valid when judging the record from a purely historical perspective.Want an example? Take that large chunk of ballads near the end of the album, the last four songs, that is (actually, an absolute majority of the songs on here are ballads, which isn't all that enlightening). They're all nice-sounding and all, but they all seem rehashed from past glories. 'Dark Sweet Lady' has pretty acoustic parts, and an authentic mandolin thrown in for good measure, but I could easily do without it in the view of 'Learning How To Love You' from the preceding album. 'Your Love Is Forever' rolls along slowly and graciously, but I could name at least two or three songs from Extra Texture which follow the same method. 'Soft Touch' and 'If You Believe' are more upbeat, but equally blah blah. I can't even explain my problem - I swear, they're all more or less well-written songs, and on some level, I like all of them, but the unoriginality is really killing me. If this happened to be my first George Harrison record, I'd have fallen in deep love with it. Alas, I came into contact with it already after having enjoyed every preceding studio album, and it just doesn't work that way. What can be said about the only 'rocker' on the album, the soft-rock bore of 'Faster'? It's a generic car song ('he's the master of going faster'), and it has no merits whatsoever. Generic 'n' boring. And if you want to poke fun at old George, he gives you a brilliant excuse here by putting up yet another song sequel: 'Here Comes The Moon' is certainly not a bad song by itself, but being irresistibly associated with 'Here Comes The Sun', it just can't help faring miserably. Still, the name helped it to become a modest chart hit, at least. Good idea. How about suggesting some more? What about 'I Want To Retell You' or 'Only A Southern Song'? How about 'It's All Too Little'? Or a third sequel named 'Don't Stop Crying (My Guitar) (Please) (I Said MY GUITAR!!)'. Nah, kidding again. Pulling your leg. Mocking your tastes. Or not? 'Here Comes The Moon' is a lengthy synth-and-guitar-heavy suite with the title reprised for an awful lot of times - so often that it really leaves you somewhat unsettled, to say the least. The sound is moody but doesn't hold a candle to its elder brother (funny enough, one of the line goes 'looks like a little brother to the sun'). Not too good. What is good, however, is George's already mentioned remake of an oldie originally destined for The White Album. 'Not Guilty' is a great number with slightly confusing, but solid changes in tempo and a cute memorable riff. It seems he really was scraping the bottom of the barrel if he had to turn to material which was at least ten years old. The other hits were the anthemic 'Love Comes To Everyone' with Clapton on guitar and the poppy, bouncy 'Blow Away' with no one on nothing in particular. It's OK. I don't like it as much as his other jolly pop hits like 'This Song' on 33 & 1/3, but it's enjoyable. Don't forget 'Soft-Hearted Hana', either, with a sly, charming little countryish melody that'll get you tapping your foot a little (I hope); it's definitely unlike anything George had ever done before. These four songs are what actually salvages the album, turning it from 'completely generic bore' into 'some classic material drowned in a sea of filler'. Aw, damn it, the whole album is enjoyable - there's just nothing really groundbreaking or moving about it. Just a pretty normal, commercial album. Bland. Second hand. And the good stuff is recycled again. See above. That said, I'm in no way asking those who are enamoured of George's usual style to stay away - bland as it is, it's still a deeply personal album, and thus might easily appeal to those who identify with Harrison on a more frequent basis than with Ozzy Osbourne, for example. Get that?
READER COMMENTS SECTION
Year Of Release: 1981
Record rating = 6
Overall rating = 9
More pop getting in good music's way. Sorry, George, but you have to be more inventive.Best song: ALL THOSE YEARS AGO
Track listing: 1) Blood From A Clone; 2) Unconsciousness Rules; 3) Life Itself; 4) All Those Years Ago; 5) Baltimore Oreole; 6) Tear Drops; 7) That Which I Have Lost; 8) Writings On The Wall; 9) Hong Kong Blues; 10) Save The World.
What the HELL? This is dull modern pop! The opening 'Blood From A Clone' is HORRIBLE - based on a quasi-disco riff, and yes, it's memorable, but it's just because it's DUMB!!! DUMB to the extreme!! Banal, too. The same five-note riff repeated over and over again, and it really really sucks... like a braindead dance tune which just urges you to smash your head against the nearest wall. If you want hypnotic monotonousness, please pick up some Talking Heads instead: maybe George was inspired by these guys, but criss-crossing New Wave with his usual light poppy style is like mixing vodka with mineral water. Well... I guess.And there are more lapses of taste on here, too. More or less the same things go for the naive storysong 'Hong Kong Blues' and particularly the ecological rocker 'Save The World'. Ptoooey. The latter has a nice message and all, but Harrison has rarely been more preachy and boring previously. Don't get me wrong, I (and all the reasonable people on Earth) do agree with George that we gotta protect the whale and reduce the arms races, but if George actually thought that a song as melodically sterile as that could have a big impact or anything, he must have passed the previous ten years in a coma - hey, the world had already forgotten All Things Must Pass and wouldn't be ready to accept anything the prophetic mind of George would be offering. A couple of mind-numbers (ha! ha! good pun!) sound retro, like somebody's old cover 'Baltimore Oriole', but that doesn't mean they sound good. George's songwriting obviously seems going down the drain, as he gets involved with gardening and car racing... ...which doesn't exactly mean that the songs are all bad, it just means that Harrison just didn't really give a damn. In fact, I have mentioned the four songs that are the most stupid contributions; nothing else sucks openly, but you have to submit yourself to millions of listens to this stuff in order to get any emotional impact. Since I've been listening to this record for quite a long time now, I have the privilege of actually enjoying the rest of the songs, but I'm not willing to argue that they are Eiffel Tower-size masterpieces, or even Pentagon-shape chef-d'oeuvres. The steel guitar country number 'That Which I Have Lost' and the fast synth-powered pop ditty 'Teardrops' may seem different, but they set exactly the same mood and in the end are both dispensable, although I could hardly say they're bad songs. They're good, well-written and judging by their quality, one could guess they were written by a formerly masterful songwriter - but by Harrison's standards, this is all deeply shallow. That was an oxymoron, but who gives? Nobody ever reads Harrison reviews anyway. That said, the steel phased guitar on 'That Which I Have Lost' is really great. LUV THAT STEEL PHASED GUITAR! Getting closer to the big ones now, the ones that don't let the record sink lower than the SS Titanic. The sloppy philosophical excourse 'Writings On The Wall' is slow and boring, but add a pinch of good will, drop the 'boring' stuff and you'll see that the melody is very well-crafted and there's a certain subtle and caressing charm in the song that's sorely lacking in some of George's more straightforward numbers. Perhaps Phil Spector could have been called upon to add a master touch? Then we could have another existentialist hymn in the vein of... whatever. Don't let me inflict my troubled dreams on you. So anyway, why does George look so happy on the cover? Well, it's just because at least three tracks on here certainly go beyond the average. The bouncy joyful number 'Unconsciousness Rules' is far superior to the slightly similar 'Teardrops', with a melody that's truly catchy and would make a great asset for beginning guitar players. The economic saxes add a trifle of a jazzy touch here, and add up to the playfulness and joviality of the melody - of course, the lyrics are the usual social (or anti-social? Who really cares?) grunts, but I can't make them out anyway. Then there's the deeply religious ballad 'Life Itself' with its multiple guitar layers; it's listenable, even though it is, once again, just a recycling of the atmosphere of All Things (see above). I love Harrison's religious ballads. Am I a fruitcake? Nah. We all know for sure that George is deeply spiritual and that he knows how to pen a good melody, despite all the odds. Ergo, his religious ballads are far more interesting than, say, Mark Farner's religious ballads. [Note: I am absolutely unaware of the exact degree of spirituality of Mark Farner, but one thing I know for sure is that Mark Farner couldn't have recognized a good melody if it descended upon his shoulder in the guise of Archangel Gabriel and crooned, 'Hi! I'm your first good melody!'] Returning to that Harrison guy, though, what we also have here is the heartfelt Lennon tribute 'All Those Years Ago', an absolute classic probably written during a brief moment of true inspiration. Well, it doesn't sound completely unlike anything else on here, but at least it shows us some genuine emotion and has a solid, convincing drive, and that's a relief. These three tracks are enough for you to want to buy this album (and it's kinda curious, too, that they are all following each other on the album, so that you get the impression of an "alien-natured" sequence in the middle of a pool of dreck), but since two of them can be found on Best Of Dark Horse, you may frankly not bother yourself at all. Unless you're a George diehard, of course. Me, I still feel partial about the record, but even I have to admit that George's songwriting reaches one of its all-time lowest points here.
READER COMMENTS SECTION
Year Of Release: 1982
Record rating = 7
Overall rating = 10
The "unknown" album. I bet it wouldn't sell better were it "known", but it's still an improvement over the lightness of its predecessor.Best song: GONE TROPPO
Track listing: 1) Wake Up My Love; 2) That's The Way It Goes; 3) I Really Love You; 4) Greece; 5) Gone Troppo; 6) Mystical One; 7) Unknown Delight; 8) Baby Don't Run Away; 9) Dream Away; 10) Circles.
My previous review of this album sucked mightily, so I just had to re-write it from scratch (granted, this wasn't too hard a task, because the original review mainly just said: "This album is so boring I don't even know what to say about it" and that was all). Anyway, Gone Troppo is, in fact, way, way better than I originally gave it credit for - and thus, out of all the four Beatles, George turns out to be the only one who's never released a truly bad record, unless you count Electronic Sound, of course. Which only further strengthens my theory that being a 'mediocre' artist actually saves you from losing your face: while you will never be revered as highly as your colleagues, you won't be hated as much either.Note, too, that Gone Troppo was George's very last album before he went on a staggerin' five-year hiatus: trying to be sincere to himself, George understood that by now he was really far more interested in movie-making and car-racing, and so missed the brilliant opportunity to make an electronic, lifeless, typical mid-Eighties product like Paul's Press To Play. In other words, he just fell out of the epoch when music-making, at least in the "rock dinosaur" camp, was at its absolute low, and came back at the right time with the right things to say... but let us not jump the gun. As for Gone Troppo, it actually is an improvement over Somewhere In England. Gone are the stupid preachy eco-rockers and the soggy Hoagy Carmichael covers. The sound is more full-fledged, with multi-layered guitars and heavy synthesizer backgrounds and weird percussion, and basically, I'd say that the sound, in general, is very much suitable to the album cover - there's a certain "vacational", "tropical" mood to many of these songs, with all that cheerful, optimistic slide work, pleasant backup vocals and diverse instrumentation. On the other hand, this 'tropical' mood often crosses over with another mood - that of intentional, self-induced schizophrenia, but a playful, "ga-ga"-type schizophrenia rather than bleak madness. The title track is one perfect example of the two moods' synthesis: the joyful, catchy slide riffage, endless lyrical references to leisure and the tropics and semi-ethnic percussion plant us in a dizzy, uplifted state, but the lyrics in general and all the funny noises on the scene are simply crazy. Not even "psychedelic" - this is just a light form of madness. 'Troppo, gone troppo, troppo, it's time you know I gone troppo'. What a convenient bait for those who hate the album: I suppose that many a critic used these lines to his own good. 'Hey, it's time we all know George Harrison finally gone troppo!'. Another typically 'crazy' track is 'Dream Away', with its simplistic rhythm shuffle and nursery-style vocal melodies which culminate in George chanting some kind of totally ununderstandable gibberish. Nowhere near as catchy as the title track apart from the aforementioned gibberish chorus, it still boasts the typical heart-warming Harrison atmosphere. Finally, the album has an instrumental! The first instrumental since Dark Horse! It's called 'Greece', it's headspinning and cute, and once again it shows us that George is the absolute master of slide guitar - I just take some pure delight in following all of the numerous little melodies and half-melodies he pings out on his instruments, and it immediately puts me in such a relaxed and forgiving mood that I'm ready to upgrade my general rating of Traffic to a fifteen. Now here's ample proof that music is able to change the world! Elsewhere, we have the two "big ones" that accompanied 'Gone Troppo' to Harrison's 'best-of' compilation. The lead-off single, 'Wake Up My Love', somehow managed to bomb, but God help me if I know why. Everything about it is so damn catchy, from the pompous introductory synth riff to the contrast between the 'clumsy' verses and the 'fluent' chorus, to the beautiful slide/synth interplay in said chorus. This is one of the best 'mainstream' synth-pop compositions of the early Eighties, not some Rod Stewart crap like 'Young Turks' - instead of relying on a mindless 4/4 beat, it has a real melody and an arrangement that makes you forget the fact that it's heavily synth-dependent. I'm also quite partial to 'That's The Way It Goes' - not only are the preachy lyrics out there light years ahead of the cliched nonsense of 'Save The World', it has some of the best slide guitar parts ever recorded by George. Have you noticed how often the word 'slide' pops up in all of my Harrison reviews? That's because I can't help myself: all of these albums are a true slide lover's paradise. As for the other songs, they're... well, they're okay. Nothing offensive in there. 'I Really Love You' utilizes doo-wop elements (George's self-induced "madness" again?) and sounds quite cozy and charming. Both 'Mystical One' and 'Unknown Delight' are pretty ballads, but seem to be ripping way too much off George's 1976-1979 style, particularly the latter, which almost completely reduplicates the style of 'Learning How To Love You', for instance. 'Baby Don't Run Away' has a cool 'pleading' atmosphere about it, but maybe the song drags on for just a wee bit too long; and 'Circles', said to be yet another Beatles-era outtake, has lots of atmosphere around it, but let's confess it, is there a single Harrisong that lacks atmosphere? What I'm looking for is a melody or at least an outstanding showcase of guitar wizardry, and I find the slide work on here way too minimalistic and the vocal hooks way too subtle to make a lot of impression. That said, I'm still really puzzled as to how there was a time when I would give this record an overall rating of 7/15. Perhaps I was just too influenced by the fact that Gone Troppo was an absolute commercial bomb - it's said that Harrison's recording company failed to publicize it properly, and its shelf life was even shorter than its chart one. But who gives a damn? This could have been a bootleg for all I care. Not spectacular, but a nice and tolerable way to go out of the musical business for as long as George did.
READER COMMENTS SECTION
Year Of Release: 1987
Record rating = 9
Overall rating = 12
A masterful comeback. This is pure pop, but at least it's POWERFUL pop!Best song: CLOUD 9
Track listing: 1) Cloud 9; 2) That's What It Takes; 3) Fish On The Sand; 4) Just For Today; 5) This Is Love; 6) When We Was Fab; 7) Devil's Radio; 8) Someplace Else; 9) Wreck Of The Hesperus; 10) Breath Away From Heaven; 11) I Got My Mind Set On You.
A five year break was apparently useful. George probably came to realize his burnout himself, so he just quit songwriting and recording totally (like Lennon in 1975) and concentrated himself on cars, flowers, and movies. Eventually, though, nostalgia got the better of him, so he teamed up with Eric Clapton, Elton John, Ringo and (God save us) ex-ELO leader Jeff Lynne to record an album which was to fling him back into superstardom. Now I know Jeff Lynne is usually regarded as something of a Count Dracula for rock musicians - not thoroughly, if a little, exaggerated; but at least he made sure that Cloud 9 sounds nothing like the sloppy bland stuff on George's last three studio albums. Booming ELO-ish drums, layers of crystal clear guitars, occasionally cheesy but well-controlled arrays of synth lines abound here, and this makes up for a really well organized album. Even more important, though, is the fact that George has picked up songwriting again, and even though this is no All Things (the songs are, in general, still a bit too shallow and moderate to come close to the epic stuff on that one), it sure as hell ain't no Gone Troppo either. In fact, it's a masterful rebound, and overall, I can easily rate this as Harrison's second best album of all time.The handful of dance pop numbers (including the well-known hit 'Got My Mind Set On You') go off just fine; maybe it's the cannonball drumming that gives an effect of 'seriousness', but anyway I far prefer them to the insipid grooves on the previous records. And 'This Is Love' even manages to capture some of that famous Harrison soul sincerity, despite the fact that it's set to a modern post-disco rhythm. Well, what do you want? Eighties ELO, baby, Eighties ELO. But it's not the worst thing that could happen - just as with Jeff Lynne, you soon get used to the cheesy production and concentrate all your attention exclusively on the melodies. And 'This Is Love' has one of the catchiest melodies George ever wrote. And a terrific guitar solo. However, it's the rockers and the ballads that constitute the main attraction of the album. The title track is an absolute Harrison classic, with Eric playing lots of short, snappy licks and managing to create a heavily 'mooded' atmosphere never before heard on a George album. It's almost as if George went 'Gothic' for that one, except that there's no true evil or spookiness on the song, just a sudden dark depth that seems to have sprung out of nowhere and grabbed you by surprise - it's probably the most unexpected start to kick off a Harrison record ever. The nostalgic 'When We Was Fab', the raunchy 'Wreck Of The Hesperus', the groovy 'Devil's Radio' - all of these are definite highlights and mostly fun. You can live your life without them and be perfectly happy, of course, but at least - when you hear anything like that on the radio, don't turn it off and who knows? Maybe you'll like it. Or maybe you'll like the ballads? In which case I readily recommend the absolutely brilliant 'Breath Away From Heaven' which celebrates simplicity by being based on a totally elementary riff repeated over and over again... until you go to sleep and wake up with it still in your head. And lord I know it's easy to get a murky ditty stick in your head, too, but this ain't murky. It's wonderful. And for all you lovers of more pop balladeering, you got your generic ballads in 'Someplace Else' and 'Just For Today'. Both sound exactly the same, but once again, Eric's playing and George's emotional singing makes both worthwhile. And the lyrics? Suffice it to say that never in his life had George ever let such an album sip through his hands. There are practically no preachy songs on the entire album (if you don't count the eco message of 'Devil's Radio'), although, of course, there's always some place reserved for prayers ('Fish On The Sand'). Instead, what you get is intelligent-sounding nostalgia on 'When We Was Fab', 'encoded' love songs (title track), misanthropic themes ('Someplace Else'), etc. What do I mean? I mean this album is really diverse, dammit! I don't know whether it's a crime to say that, but it's even more diverse than All Things Must Pass. So there! And do not forget that this record marked the beginning of the 'Comeback Era' for rock dinosaurs! Ain't it great? Unfortunately, after being his first album in five years, Cloud 9 alos turned out to be the last completed studio album George has made in his remaining lifetime. It's possible he just had a thought he'd not be able to repeat this success again, so he stuck to his movies again? Sounds like a good idea: the few studio originals, mostly featured in movie soundtracks, that he's released since then amply demonstrate the 'comeback' was somewhat.. err... 'provisional', if you know what I mean... Anyway, the only complete Harrison album the world has seen since then is the Live In Japan concert document. And as for Jeff Lynne, the guy still stuck around Mr Harrison for several more years until George finally gave him a kick in the butt saying he didn't want no more ELO-style production on his songs. A bit cruel to the guy, perhaps - I'd bet you anything Jeff wasn't merely responsible for the production here, but actually added to all the songs. As well as the other guys - heck, Cloud 9's got a real star cast now that you think of it. Clapton, Elton John, Gary Wright, Ringo, Jim Keltner, Ray Cooper, Jim Horn... the only one that's missing is definitely Frank Sinatra, though.
READER COMMENTS SECTION
Year Of Release: 1992
Record rating = 8
Overall rating = 11
Pretty decent live album, but there's the usual question - can you play a Beatles song on stage to complete satisfaction?Best song: CLOUD 9
Track listing: 1) I Want To Tell You; 2) Old Brown Shoe; 3) Taxman; 4) Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth); 5) If I Needed Someone; 6) Something; 7) What Is Life; 8) Dark Horse; 9) Piggies; 10) Got My Mind Set On You; 11) Cloud 9; 12) Here Comes The Sun; 13) My Sweet Lord; 14) All Those Years Ago; 15) Cheer Down; 16) Devil's Radio; 17) Isn't It A Pity; 18) While My Guitar Gently Weeps; 19) Roll Over Beethoven.
This is the last 'original' Harrison album since 1992, and, quite probably, the last you'll ever hear, as Georgie seemed to be more interested in his movie producing job and other hobbies than in writing new music. In fact, 'writing new music' is not the right expression for this album, as it's a live one, from a very short tour of Japan that George undertook together with Eric Clapton and friends, and contains absolutely no 'new' material, not even a single song. The tour itself was a somewhat bizarre idea: Harrison only had one previous solo tour before, in 1974, and furthermore it was a complete embarrassment because of his throat problems at the time (remember Dark Hoarse?) So I was feeling somewhat uneasy when I first put it on: would the old boy be able?Well, to a certain extent, he sure was. His backing band is quite strong: Clapton has provided him with his own current touring ensemble, and it coincides almost perfectly, bit-by-bit, with the band he used on the famous Unplugged program. Actually, the album was released just a month before Unplugged, so I suppose Eric and Co. simply flew off to do the MTV show the night after their last Japanese concert. Not that the sound is perfect, of course. Just like similar McCartney combos, the band drenches Beatles and Harrison solo classics in a sound that's a bit too smooth and slick, with little to get particularly excited about. In that respect, I far prefer the sloppy, poorly rehearsed sound on Bangla Desh (which should still be your best bet for a live Harrison record). Greg Phillinganes is a superb master of the synth, I must admit, and his abilities permit the band to perform without a brass section, which is somewhat encumbering; but it's a debatable question whether you prefer your horns live or aped on a synthesizer. Steve Ferrone's drumming is precise and powerful, but no great shakes; and the chicks that sing backup vocals (Katie Kissoon and Tessa Niles) sometimes sound downright out of place, especially on the slightly re-arranged Beatles' numbers. That said, there are at least three things that almost completely redeem the general mediocrity of these performances and justify your acquisition. First, the song selection is excellent, drawing heavily on most stages of Harrison's career, omitting most of the lows and concentrating on the highs. George faithfully recreates most of his Beatles days highlights, starting from 'I Want To Tell You' and ending, right, you guessed, with the completely predictable 'Something', 'Here Comes The Sun' and 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'. He even does 'Taxman' and 'Piggies', slightly alternating the lyrics for both to suit them to modern times ('Taxman', in particular, has the girls singing 'taxman Boris Yeltsin' and 'taxman Mr Bush'! Hey, that's a groovy historical document!) There's also some of the best stuff from All Things Must Pass, and the arrangements are just a trifle tampered with in order to inflame your interest. Thus, 'My Sweet Lord' is done in a more relaxed, stripped-down manner, emphasizing the song's contemplativeness rather than energy, and during the lengthy coda to 'Isn't It A Pity' George even sings the vocal melody contained in the coda of 'Hey Jude'; not that the joyful and the sorrowful themes fit very well together, but at least it's curious. And when George turns to the 'later fishy' period, he only does great numbers, such as 'Give Me Love' (stunning, one of the few tunes on here that superate the original) and 'All Those Years Ago'. I expected to cringe at hearing 'Dark Horse', but it was one of the biggest surprises: now that George has no more problems with his throat, there are simply no impediments to enjoy the song's carefully crafted, catchy melody. The Cloud 9 numbers go off like mini-rockets, with 'Got My Mind Set On You' again superating the original and the title track featuring some wonderful guitar duels. And they even come up with 'Roll Over Beethoven' for the encore - if you ever had any suspicion about George totally losing interest in rock'n'roll, here's the proof that he hasn't. The second advantage of the record is Eric Clapton: his guitar playing was at a peak during this time (his last gasp of brilliancy before the late Nineties slump), and thus I can easily forgive him for extending the solos in the songs and even adding solos to songs that weren't originally supposed to have 'em, like in 'I Want To Tell You', for instance. Only a couple of moments come close to annoying; thus, I don't really favour his lengthy workout on 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'. I mean, it's good, and it sure can bring a tear to the unexperienced eye (through an unexperienced ear, I s'pose), but the sound is painfully thin: the original solo was supposed to be tearful and powerful at once, like a weeping giant; here, it's more like a weeping midget. Please check out the Bangla Desh version for a truly mind-blowing guitar battle. Elsewhere, though, everything works, and on 'Cloud 9' Eric soars like he's rarely done in the past fifteen years. Finally, the third attractive feature is Mr Harrison himself. Like I said, his voice is well-oiled, and his guitar playing is competent despite a supposedly lengthy lack of practice. He is, in fact, the most alive element of the show, and it does look like he's enjoying every moment of it. Even when he goes overboard with the mantraic chanting on 'My Sweet Lord', it's still moving and sounds fresh - at least, fresher than Mr Phillinganes' generic keyboard playing. And you know what? Yup, the record does scent a bit of 'product', with many of the tunes emphasizing lifeless professionalism and nostalgia over the pure rock'n'roll fun or the 'feeling of a mission' that's so omnipresent on Bangla Desh and ultimately makes that record so unforgettable. But on the other side, why should one expect a bunch of fifty-year old dudes always deliver 'pure rock'n'roll fun'? This record is perfectly enjoyable anyway, and it's a good alternative if you've already used up all of your Beatles and solo Harrison records. And the little tricks that the guys pull on the older songs are never offensive; they have a great way of altering a Beatles classic and not making it sound ridiculous, something which few performers can ever manage. Maybe that's because one of these fifty-year old dudes is a Beatle, while the other fifty-year old dude has always been a Beatle in spirit. Resent that last remark? In which case, please explain me why it was Clapton and not Jimmy Page that George invited to do that 'While My Guitar' solo back in 1968!
READER COMMENTS SECTION
Year Of Release: 1989
May well be. Then again, maybe not. An album which begins with 'Poor Little Girl' and continues with 'Cockamamie Business' (three new tracks for some kind of 1989 movie) just has to have some difficulties with entering my all-time favourite lists. They sound like outtakes from Somewhere In England set to a Jeff Lynne production and they don't just suck: they reduce George's formula to modern braindead mechanical pop salad and nothing more. Plus, the lyrics to the eco 'rocker' 'Cockamamie Business' are on my Top 10 list for 'The Most Idiotic Lyrics Of All Time'. I must say that I have grown used to the similar-in-style, but somewhat more intelligent melody-wise 'Cheer Down', an optimistic rocker with some amazing guitarwork on it; but these two others still give me the perverse kind of goosebumps every time I hear them on.That said, this album does include some of George's best cuts from that period, and if you're only a moderate fan, you can easily dump Somewhere, George Harrison and Gone Troppo in favour of this one. Even though it doesn't have 'Not Guilty', 'Unconsciousness Rules' and my favourite 'Woman Don't You Cry For Me', but has the stupid 'Here Comes The Moon'. Oh, OK. As usual, it's based on singles, so I shouldn't complain. Buy it, but oh buyer beware. And always remember - do not base yourself on compilations when making general statements.
READER COMMENTS SECTION