by Billy J. Shears
For a few years now I have had a bee in my bonnet over the pigeon holing of George Harrison as an artist. I'll start off by giving you the official opinion given by numerous reviewers and copy cat journalists.
It goes something like this:
George was the quiet Beatle, the lead guitarist who was vastly inferior both as a songwriter and singer to both John and Paul in the Beatles.
He eventually came up with the goods on the final Beatles Album, Abbey Road with the classics Something and Here Comes The Sun.
After the Beatles split he made the successful All Things Must Pass Album which included the number one hit single - My Sweet Lord. In 1971 George got involved in the successful Concert for Bangla Desh then !!!!
He eventually came up with the goods on the final Beatles Album, Abbey Road with the classics Something and Here Comes The Sun. After the Beatles split he made the successful All Things Must Pass Album which included the number one hit single - My Sweet Lord. In 1971 George got involved in the successful Concert for Bangla Desh then !!!!
Fast forward several years ...
He put some money into the Monty Pythons Life of Brian film and formed Handmade Films.
Some reviewers mention George's involvement in the Traveling Wilbury's and that's about it.
So what's missing from the story ?
Well that's the whole purpose of this review. Why for instance is it not stated that George's VERY BEST material appears on the strong set of his solo Albums. A close look at the lyrics show a growing maturity, developing on each album, and by the Brainwashed Album the lyrics are on a par with any Bob Dylan Album.
The subject matter, which was touched in his Beatle songs, Within you, without you, The Inner Light and While My Guitar Gently Weeps is extended on all of the solo Albums. Indeed as George pursued his mystical and religious interests deeper, the songs prosper and his ideas develop to much greater heights.
Also George developed his very own rich production sound, and of course his wonderful unique slide guitar playing technique. Plus his voice improved vastly over the years and those solo Albums have some truly great singing.
So for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the solo Albums, here in my opinion is a much more balanced view of them.
The All Things Must Pass triple is a fantastic Album, it has a terrific Production due to Phil Spector's Involvement. There are so many highlights on the Album, the critics generally give this Album rave reviews and I am in total agreement with them.
Next,the beginning of the INVISIBLE ALBUMS, Living in the Material World which is a very strong and underrated Album, includes the excellent single Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth).
The Album was unfairly criticized at the time of release when it was fashionable to give negative reviews to all solo Beatle releases. Track for Track the songs are every bit as strong as anything on the acclaimed All Things Must Pass Album.
The next Album was Dark Horse, which admittedly is George's weakest release, partly due to major throat problems and a disastrous North American Tour.
He was also going through personal marital problems at the time. Although the material is substandard there are still one or two long lost gems such as So Sad and Then came Extra Texture (Read All About It) which despite negative reviews was a real return to form. George himself was becoming very disillusioned with all the negative attitude towards his work and mockingly included a critical headline on the Album sleeve with the title OH NOT HIM AGAIN !
The actual Album is a definite return to form ,Including a catchy single You and really strong tracks such as The Answers At The End and This Guitar Can't Keep From Crying which is an obvious sequel to his Beatle classic. Far East Man co written with Ronnie Wood.
Then came Extra Texture (Read All About It) which despite negative reviews was a real return to form. George himself was becoming very disillusioned with all the negative attitude towards his work and mockingly included a critical headline on the Album sleeve with the title OH NOT HIM AGAIN !
The actual Album is a definite return to form ,Including a catchy single You and really strong tracks such as The Answers At The End and This Guitar Can't Keep From Crying which is an obvious sequel to his Beatle classic.
Then the next two INVISIBLE ALBUMS 33 1/3 and George Harrison are for me his strongest Albums - check em out !
The production on both Albums is very rich and George's songs really seam to blossom on these two Albums.
The 33 1/3 Album goes into a more commercial field,but this is a very healthy change of direction. The opening track Woman Don't You Cry For Me has a dance beat arrangement,totally new for George and it works really well.
Beautiful Girl sees George in a Bob Dylan Mode,Crackerbox Palace is a fantastic track with a unique production.In fact the whole Album is full of strong material set in many styles just like the better Paul McCartney Albums.
The follow up Album George Harrison is also a very strong Album with many highlights including the excellent Love Comes To Everyone later discovered by Eric Clapton.
Here comes the moon is full of Georges Humor and is another great song.I could go through the Album track by track because all of the songs are in different styles and all of them are excellent quality.
Somewhere in England was the next release and although this Album was spoilt by record company interference ,it was still fairly worthwhile. The original Album in my opinion would have been a really strong release and I can fully understand why George was so upset by the negative record company attitude towards it.
On the official remade release George wrote the cynical Blood From A Clone all about the situation and although there are many highlights on the Album the new tracks alter with the flow of the intended first version and the result is that the Album appears misjointed.
Gone Troppo was the next Album, and by now George was becoming extremely disillusioned with the whole musical business, and the negative reviews he was receiving. The strain begins to show on this Album which is very patchy. There are a few gems on it nevertheless such as That's The Way It Goes and the terrific Mystical One After this Album George took a long break from any recordings for several years before he hit back with the commercial Cloud Nine co produced with Jeff Lynne. This Album was another return to form and produced the Number One hit single Got My Mind Set On You.The whole Album had a very modern feel to it and George was back in full focus once again.
We then meet up with the critics for the Travelling Wilbury Albums which were mainly fun recordings, again showing a new freshness and George's final posthumous release Brainwashed which took his songwriting to a new level and is indeed a very strong final Album. To me this Album shows an extension to George's songwriting ability with tracks like Stuck inside A Cloud and the title track Brainwashed.
So there you have it,in a nutshell a proper fare review of Georges Output. The best bet is to check out the invisible Albums and make up your own mind. But for me George Harrison has easily made the more consistent and best Post Beatles Albums.