GEORGE HARRISON DISCOGRAPHY (Part Two)
SOLO GEORGE: George only released three tracks that did not appear on a Harrisonalbum (greatest hits compilations aside), all listed below. By this time rock artists had stopped releasing singles other than to promote the album on which it was pulled. I’ve avoided his two Greatest Hits, as there was no new material on either. Let’s get his first two albums over with quickly.
Wonderwall Music(1968): After George’s dalliance with Indian music after “The Inner Light” he decided to do an entire album of it. This was the second solo work by a Beatle (the first being McCartney’s “The Family Way”). Like McCartney’s, this was a soundtrack album. And like McCartney’s, wasn’t very good.
The only thing keeping this album from total obscurity release was its Beatle connection. For good Indian music, wait a few years when George co-produces some albums with Ravi Shankar!
This was the first album released on the Beatle’s Apple label,
Electronic Sounds (1969): The Beatles formed a second label called Zapple that would include more avant-garde recordings. Nowadays this album would be called electronic new age mood music. Back then they called it crap. “Deep space static” was one of the kinder reviews.
All Things Must Pass(1970): Much better. George is finally out of the Lennon-McCartney shadow and we can all see what he is capable of. He releases a telling three-album set to show the world (and his band mates) the floodgates have opened.
Guests abound: Badfinger, Clapton, Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Ringo, Yes’ Alan White, Cream’s Ginger Baker, Billy Preston, Peter Frampton, and members of Derek and the Dominoes and Procol Harum. When George throws a party, everyone attends.
The music is nearly perfect: the most famous track being “My Sweet Lord”, a Krishna Mantra made into a catchy jingle. George does a wonderful job in the writing and music. You might say he’s so fine.
“What Is Life?” is the other big single from the album. Like “Something”, George searches for a way to express his love. This time it’s on a cosmic scale, asking “What is life without you?” In this case he means God, but it applies to anyone you truly love.
The other songs are less known but just as wonderful: “I’d Have You Anytime” is a co-written with Bob Dylan (who at the time rarely shared writing credits). “Wah — Wah” is a guitar jam (considering the talent on board that’s saying something1). “Isn’t It a Pity” is a gentle Beatle slam, with “Hey Jude” Na-na-na-na chorus echoing throughout in case you missed the point. Actually, the lyrics are quite sad (“Isn’t it a pity, isn’t it a shame, how we break each other’s hearts and cause each other pain”) “The Lord is Awaiting on You All” is a rolling fun tune, much better than his later proselytizing.
“Bangladesh” single (1971): Nowadays charity concerts to help the needy is nearly expected of musicians, but George was the first. He wrote and recorded this single to help the starving people of Bangladesh. It’s a good rock tune that chugs along nicely and was meant to raise money, not be a rock classic.
The Concert for Bangladeshalbum (1972): Although Dylan’s acoustic side is the highlight of the album, George plays some fine live tunes, including an acoustic version of “Here Comes the Sun”.
Living in the Material Worldalbum (1973): George is so involved in his religious beliefs that he can’t help but have it reflect in his songs. Unfortunately, this album seems one long attempt to convert us all. An exception is “Sue Me Sue You Blues”, another Beatle-basher; the lyrics are strange accompanied by the jaunty musicianship — somehow it works.
The single “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” still gets airplay and is a lovely song. It moves along sweetly and the sentiment is kind and benevolent. Too bad the rest of the songs on the album sound like a sermon. A boring one at that …
Dark Horse album (1974): the nadir of George’s career. Despite some good songs like the title track — George’s voice is so hoarse from practicing for his up-coming tour that it’s almost hard to recognize him. The gruff flintiness of his voice fits the lyrics and the guitar playing is wonderful. A flute plays between the lines of lyrics like paper in the wind, adding an almost hippie-dippie feel (I mean that in a nice way).
The album also features George’s only Christmas song (“Ding Dong Ding Dong”), although it is a fairly mediocre attempt (on par with McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” — nice song, pretty sentiment, but almost instantly forgettable).
The rest of the album is more attempts to raise our Krishna Conscienceness. Not as bad as a Jimmy Swaggart sermon, but the sentiment is the same.
It took George nearly fifteen years to recover from this album. No other album until “Cloud 9” had the advertising support that his first three had.
Extra Texture(Read All About It) album (1975). George tries to lighten up. Unfortunately, by this time most people had stopped listening. Too bad, it’s a good album. “You” is a plaintive love cry combined with a rocking good beat. This was originally recorded for Ronnie Spector and George simply recorded his vocals over her arrangement. “The Answer’s At the End” is a good slow sad song (especially since his death — I wonder if he found the answer?). The purpose of “This Guitar Can’t Keep from Crying” is obvious.
“Tired of Midnight Blue” is an interesting song that flows from a hidden funky beat to a slow 6/8 chorus.
The album concludes with “Ladies & Gentlemen” featuring “Larry” Legs Smith from the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. It is supposed to be a silly romp filled with spoken quips ala Crosby-Mercer. It was lost a bit in the mix and wasn’t all that funny.
George never seemed too interested in the packaging of his albums with this album as the exception – the album was textured like that of an orange and the lettering was cut out showing a hidden photo on the sleeve. Pulling the sleeve out reveals a grinning George with the caption “Ohnothimagain” – very much in the vein of George’s humor and shows the listener this might not be as heavy-handed as his previous works. It isn’t, but then most of the songs are only slightly more memorable.
33 and 1/3 album (1976). Forget the last three albums. If we had, this would have been classic. Masterful musicianship throughout, wonderful lyrics.
Cole Porter’s “True Love” is a highlight — why has George been so reluctant to record other people’s songs? Was it because he was forced to as a Beatle?
His sense of humor is rife in the album — “CrackerboxPalace” (the hit single) is a fun and sweet song that softly moves along, a very catchy tune. “This Song” pokes fun at his recent plagiarism lawsuit for “My Sweet Lord”, features Michael Palin as comic relief.
George alternates between sweet love songs (“Beautiful Girl”) and slow rockers (“Woman Don’t You Cry for Me”, “Pure Smokey”, “It’s What You Value”). Don’t blame George for being too mellow, punk was still two years away and we were in the beginnings of disco.
George Harrison album (1979). My favorite Harrison album. The beat here continues to be steady and easy with the exception of the inspiring “If You Believe” (“…everything you thought is possible …”). That’s not to say this album sounds like The Captain and Tennille singing with Up With People, but it is a lovely flowing album. Its mood is relaxed — George is back and sure of himself and his writing ability. “Love Comes to Everyone” features Clapton and Steve Winwood. “Blow Away” teaches us that anything bad can be conquered with love (“…all I’ve got to do is to love you, all I’ve got to be is to be happy, all it’s got to take is some warmth to make it blow away…”).
“Faster” reflects George’s love of racing — a picture of him and Jackie Stewart adorn the inner cover of the album.
Sometimes the easy beat backfires. The cloying “Here Comes the Moon” and “Soft Touch” are positively anemic. I once played “Here Comes the Moon” at 45 rpm instead of 33 and 1/3; the song was still slow and plodding.
Next: On to the 80s…
Copyright 2013 Michael G. Curry