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The Concert for Bangladesh
Living in the Material World
Dark Horse Years 1976-1992
The Concert for Bangladesh DVD
George looks at his life & sees a wealth of inspiration
29-year old wallflower | West Lafayette, IN | 04/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"1976's THIRTY THREE & 1/3 was a reasonably good album from George Harrison that spawned 2 top 40 hits & sold well enough. However, most of that album was tinged in bitterness at having lost his battle with the writers of "He's So Fine" over plagiarizing it for his own "My Sweet Lord" ("This Song" was one way of venting his anger). After that album, George took the next 2 years off, spending most of his time traveling & attending his beloved auto races. Supposedly, George was having a case of writer's block shortly after THIRTY THREE & 1/3, and was not sure if he would ever regain his main line. However, trips to Hawaii & the Virgin Islands at last got his juices flowing, and in 1979, GEORGE HARRISON appeared, its self-titled nature hinting at a new beginning & George tapping into a fresh vein of creativity.
Having just married his second wife Olivia & witnessing the birth of his son Dhani, George was clearly in a much better mood this time around, and the sunny weather of his island jaunts also helped to bring up his spirits & inspire him creatively. For someone as upbeat about the eventual savior of the world, a song like the opening "Love Comes To Everyone" (with guitar by George's pal, Eric Clapton) comes naturally from George. He points out that acheiving peace is never easy or quick, but as he mentions "It only takes time". The closing "If You Believe" also encourages the listener to keep his chin up & that believing in oneself will save the day. At a brief 3 minutes, this is one song that could have easily followed "Blow Away" as a single, for it is everything a hit should be. Those two songs are the only times George is in the role of world peacemaker. The rest are much more personal & introspective.
The glow of his new marriage & family obviously had George smiling bright for Olivia & Dhani appears to have been the inspiration for songs like "Dark Sweet Lady" (which Olivia suggested as a Spanish-type number), "Your Love Is Forever" & "Soft Touch". George clearly took the old creative saying of "Write about what you know" to heart, and that helped him recharge his batteries. Some songs like "Your Love Is Forever" could be interpreted as being to God, but the fact they work on a secular level makes them the most successful.
The new attitude George gained is transferred all throughout GEORGE HARRISON as the nature theme of some songs indicate. "Here Comes The Moon" was George's (un)intentional sequel to "Here Comes The Sun", and as he describes in the album's liner notes (taken from his autobiography I ME MINE), he was utterly entranced by the sunsets and moonrises of Hawaii. Maybe all of us could use a trip like that to brighten our lives.
"Soft-Hearted Hana" also was directly inspired by the surroundings of Hawaii, with George using his own "Deep Blue" as inspiration for creating a yin to its yang (if you gotta steal, steal from the best). Even George himself agreed that the lyrics are a bit flowery, but maybe those "magic mushrooms" he had encouraged him to revisit his latter years in the Beatles when one could not help but feel the need to take a trip.
Something as simple as a leak in George's house inspired the album's top 20 hit "Blow Away", truly one of George's finest singles. While the sunny Adult Contemporary vibe of the song may have people thinking George had gone "too soft", once they start smiling at hearing the song, they will get it. Through all his occasional preaching about world affairs, George boils it all down pretty much into "Blow Away", and as he points out in the notes, "The only thing we really have to work at in this life is how to manifest love".
It was only a matter of time before George's love of racing inspired a song, and that became "Faster". Inspired by racecar driver & friend Jackie Stewart, it is likely this song in particular helped to get George back on the songwriting track again, especially since he mentioned 1977 was mostly an off year. The chorus is by far one of George's catchiest, making it a mystery why it did not do as well as a single like "Blow Away".
Finally, there is the song that George held on to for over a decade, "Not Guilty". Written during the time of THE WHITE ALBUM, when the Beatles were slowly but surely growing apart, George had even recorded it at the time, with that version making it onto the THE BEATLES ANTHOLOGY 3. However, maybe it was considered to below the knuckle to issue at the time, but after enough time passed, George could revisit it & record it for GEORGE HARRISON. The song seems to reflect the Beatles' meditation jaunt in India, where George came home the biggest convert & all the others thought it to be of little impact. Maybe this was the element that soured George on continuing as a Beatle. "Not Guilty" is the only time on GEORGE HARRISON that detracts from the album's bouncy, upbeat feel, though the song's lighthearted attitude is still in keeping with it.
Again, the bonus tracks on the Dark Horse reissues come up short, with only a demo of "Here Comes The Moon" to present on GEORGE HARRISON, and it pales in comparison to the splendor of the final product. Clearly, there are some more lost gems in the vaults because it almost never happens that an artist records just the 10 songs that make up the album he releases.
Apparently, the time George Harrison spent just living life & not caring about music for a while helped him regain his enthusiasm for the thing that he had spent his life doing. Of course, that new career of smiles would not last long as the behind-the-scenes events involving this album's follow-up would indicate. Until then, GEORGE HARRISON showed that the only thing he needed to recharge his creative fuse was to look around & see all the good things happening to him."
George Harrison (1979)
Mr. S. St Thomas | UK | 01/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The typical thing you get with a George Harrison album is it being compared to All Things Must Pass.
An ironic thing you get is that with almost every major release since All Things Must Pass, critics and fans have said xxx album is his best work since All Things Must Pass.
And when you have a majority of your solo work being compared to what is considered your finest offering, it suggests something. Well, it suggests a few things. One thing being that maybe critics and fans are amazingly forgetful about what they said for a previous album. The other thing, the much more ironic thing, is that Harrison's solo career was filled with high watermarks over a longer time period than his former partners. It means that for almost every album he released after All Things Must Pass, the 'reaction' to it compared it to his 'finest' work. And that is an amazing track record. Considering that all of his albums in the US were never below the Top 20 (barring ''Gone Troppo'' - which had no promotion whatsoever), is another testament to this man's track record.
So if Living in the Material World, Thirty Three & 1/3rd, George Harrison, Cloud 9 and Brainwashed were all ''the best album he released since All Things Must Pass'', it must mean this composer did far better than his partners, correct? Because in ''units sold'' All Things Must Pass outsold Lennon and McCartney's first solo albums put together (Plastic Ono Band / McCartney 1). And I don't think other albums by Lennon or McCartney are compared to 'Imagine' or 'Band On The Run' with as much a success rate as far as ''reaction'' or that person working to their best abilities. What I mean to say is, reaction to London Town or Mind Games isn't the same as , the best album since All Things Must Pass, when the watermark SET by All Things Must Pass is so high. Maybe some would say its overrated. But how can the most underrated composer, in the most overrated band, have an overrated album. Shouldn't it make him come out about 'even'? Or just right?
Well, that's the ''ironic'' stuff done.
The remastered ''George Harrison'' was a long time in coming, this title being off the shelves for years. Though I am not particularly fond of the remasters, I am gratefully happy that they are anywhere in the retail market at all. You have to count the blessings as they come, and Olivia Harrison's involvement in getting these back out there will never be slighted by me. Though I was disappointed by the sound quality (particularly Thirty Three & 1/3rd), I still say not enough of the world owns a George Harrison album in their collection, so please start somewhere. Anywhere. Even here.
There are some beautiful pieces of music on this album, remastered or not. And I think there is material on here that rivals his ''best'' work with The Beatles. One being, 'Your Love Is Forever', which could have been 1979's 'Something'. It's a beautiful song, and the craftsmanship of the guitar work is sublime. Harrison's chord construction leaves his partners behind, I mean, he ''was'' their guitarist. This album also features a beautiful spanish guitar solo on ''Dark Sweet Lady'', dedicated to his wife Olivia. The playing is understated, simple, but full of how great a guitar player he was, even though he'd probably disagree. I've seen guitar solos played by a lot of people, and its very rare that someone gets a George Harrison guitar solo 'right'. It was probably his few years of training with Ravi Shankar on Sitar (he was the only Beatle who could write and read music -- Indian Music) that got some of the unusual bends and pulls he coaxed out of his solos.
I remember getting this album on vinyl when it came out, and it still sounds great in whatever format you so choose. You can't really mess up this album too much, because Harrison's albums were recorded very well, mainly by his longtime associate Phil McDonald (he engineered every Harrison solo album from ATMP until Gone Troppo, or in some capacity), and when you compare the sound quality of Harrison's 70's output to his partners (Lennon & McCartney), the differences are quite amazing. (One exception is Paul McCartney's Back To The Egg, but this was engineered by Phil McDonald! Though RAM sounds very good.) Ringo's albums have the same recording quality, near perfect.
This has always been one of my favourites of George's albums. Each song is crafted meticulously, lyrically it is as upbeat as one can be when mentioning the forces of Yin and Yang. It resurrects the criminally 'not used' Not Guilty from 1968, in a far jazzier tone, and no matter what anyone says about Harrison's vocal range, he meant what he sang, and has a far more emotive quality than someone singing goo goo g'joob. Repeatedly. ;)
The extra tracks could have been numerous, but what we're offered here is a delightful demo version of Here Comes The Moon, nearly identical to its finished form, and that's some of the best Harrison recordings right there. His simple acoustic demos should be out there for everyone to hear, particularly material like this, and the All Things Must Pass demos in some other form than bootlegged.
Please buy a George Harrison album today. Or tomorrow.
I Love This Album!!!
L. E. Jenkins | Broomfield, CO USA | 10/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Love it, Love it, LOVE it! OK, now that I got that out of my system, I'll tell you this: listening to this cd is like being at a lovely beach on vacation and being deeply in love. There is something endorphin-raising about the songs on this album, and it makes you feel as though life is looking rosy. It's not a sappy, superficial happy feeling, it is a deep contentment: well, drat, it's difficult to explain. The only time you start feeling sad is when you remember that George Harrison is no longer on this earth. Otherwise, this is a happy cd. If you want angry, if you want dreary, get another cd. (The one and only song that really doesn't belong is "Faster." I wish that could have been on "Cloud Nine" with Jeff Lynne producing it. I loved Russ Titleman and George Harrison's production of every other song, though. Very "Guitar-centric." ) George Harrison wrote some of the most beautiful love songs EVER. People mistakenly have this impression of him as the weird Hare Krishna Beatle who wrote all that w00-w00 sitar music (which I enjoy, frankly) but I'm tellin' ya, this man wrote some gorgeous love-music! Maybe his spirituality contributed to his ability to appreciate romantic love and life's simple joys as "Good Gifts;" and how fortunate we are to be able to listen to his interpretation of those gifts. "Dark Sweet Lady" is sublime. "Your Love is Forever" made me stop what I was doing and just listen in astonishment. "Blow Away" reminds us how easy it is to let go of a bad mood, and forget about it, as easy as warm winds blowing away a cold, dreary day. "Here Comes the Moon" has a totally different feeling than "Here Comes the Sun." I'll explain in my pathetic way: You know how you sit outside at late summer dusk, and the sky gets progressively darker and this big full moon climbs up slowly 'til the day's heat is gone and the balmy breezes start wafting around all these summery fragrances, and it's suddenly turned into a beautiful summer night? Yeah. THAT'S what the song is like."
This one'll make you cry
Lucy in the Sky | Florida | 09/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before I begin this review, I'd like to take this opportunity to offer the disclaimer that I am a hopeless George fan, and very biased in this review. I adore his cool style, his unique yet beautiful voice, his singing slide guitar, his poetic words and stirring music...and I miss him deeply. And few albums make me miss him more than this one.
"George Harrison" might best be described as a sort of "mystical folk" album. A magical, almost sparkling sound seems to emit from the instruments, and the result is spectacular. The songs have been finely crafted, and George's voice is in splendid shape all around. Words, melody and music come together in just the right way to make an excellent disc that (I think) everyone ought to have in their collection.
The mood is mostly mellow for this album, but that doesn't mean that the songs are dull! Not in the least. From the soaring melodies of "Faster," "Blow Away" and "Your Love is Forever" to the slinky groove of "Not Guilty" and "Soft-Hearted Hana," -- the elegant styling of "Here Comes the Moon," "Dark Sweet Lady" and "Soft Touch" to the feel-good sound of "Love Comes to Everyone" and "If You Believe" -- nothing on this disc will fail to enchant. It's the creme of Harrison's crop.
Although I recommend everything George has done, I recommend this one especially highly. It'll make you feel like you could fly through the clouds...and it might make you cry. It's that beautiful."
An Excellent Collection
BeatleBangs1964 | United States | 06/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This fine collection is a reflection of George's life. By 1979, when he released this work, he appeared to be in high stride, not only with a successful film production company but also following his musical muse. His son was born August 1, 1978 and the song "Blow Away" is a nod to Dhani's birth. George was saying that the dark clouds of a rocky past had blown away and he was moving forward with hope and renewed vigor. During the seventies, music to a large extent was commerical and in some cases cliche, but Harrison's work remained unique and distinct. On this collection, he shows his myriad of styles.
"Love Comes to Everyone" is one of the most beautiful and optimistic songs I have ever heard. He could not have picked a better song to kick this gem off. "Not Guilty" has an interesting history. A decade earlier, George tried unsuccessfully to have it included on the White Album. His original rendition of the song can be found on the Beatles' Anthology 3. It's a shame it wasn't included on the White Album as this song is of extraordinary caliber.
This collection is definitely worth owning. "Here Comes the Moon," a sequel to his 1969 blockbuster "Here Comes the Sun" is a cute, up-tempo song that will undoubtedly bring smiles to many faces. "Soft-Hearted Hana" is a very gentle piece and is ideal for soothing away stress. It is a unique song with the brand of guitar playing Harrison made his own.
"Faster" is a fun, danceable song that is a nod to George's love for race cars - Forumla One. George even admitted in his book, "I Me Mine" that he never got over his love for fast vehicles and this fun song reflects that.
His beautiful song to his wife Olivia, "Dark Sweet Lady" is intensely beautiful. So are the intensely soothing "Your Love is Forever," "Soft Touch," "If You Believe" and the closing track, "Here Comes the Moon." Closing with that one "aligns" this collection neatly and nicely. While I would much rather Harrison had released a never-released song instead, I was not disappointed with this choice.
This is ideal for the inveterate George Harrison fans and people who just like his music. For those who are just becoming familiar with his work, you might want to start with "All Things Must Pass." That is an INTENSE Harrison experience!