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George Harrison, the youngest member of the Beatles, was known as the "Quiet Beatle", mainly because he shunned the limelight that the group was subjected to. He could also be nicknamed "the frustrated Beatle", because he became fed up with his songwriting taking a backseat to that of Lennon and McCartney. His frustration manifested itself in many ways. He was the first Beatle to release a solo album, squeezing out two instrumental oddities before the Fab Four split. His first post-Beatles solo album, the great All Things Must Pass, was a three-record set, demonstrating how many of his compositions never made it to a Beatles album. Harrison died of cancer in November 2001 at the age of 58. When this page was created (about a month after Harrison's death), all of the albums reviewed below were out of print. But the six proper albums that were released on Dark Horse records were reissued in February 2004, along with a box set containing all six.

The 1968 release Wonderwall Music marked many firsts: Harrison's first solo album, the first Beatle solo album, and the first Apple Records release. It contained Harrison's appropriately bizarre music score for a strange, trippy British film called
Wonderwall, which was loaded with psychedelic visuals. Harrison himself does not sing or play on the album; he was the writer, arranger, and producer. The recordings were partly done in Bombay by twelve Indian musicians playing instruments such as sitar and flute; the other half was done in London by seven English musicians playing guitars, pianos, and drums. Harrison pieced the resulting recordings together in surreal fashion. Wonderwall Music is obviously not for all tastes, but it is a unique and ear-filling artifact from the psychedelic era.

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 Museum
15. Fantasy Sequins
16. Glass Box
17. On The Bed
18. Wonderwall To Be Here
19. Singing Om

Harrison's second release was Electronic Sound, which contains two lengthy recordings of Harrison playing around with a Moog synthesizer. His childish cover art gives a good clue about the album's aesthetic. It was released on the short-lived Zapple label, which was intended to purvey similar avant-garde works. The first track, "Under The Mersey Wall", is not unlike a long series of video game sound effects -- interesting, since there was no such thing at the time. On the second track, "No Time Or Space", Harrison and Bernie Krause try to find 1001 uses for tape hiss and radio static. The album is never exactly boring, but will only be of particular interest to avant-garde enthusiasts. It earns extra points on the consideration that synthesizer technology was relatively meager at the time.

Track Listing:

1. Under The Mersey Wall (18:40)
2. No Time Or Space (25.05)

Like the other Beatles, Harrison released his early-'70's solo albums on Apple. After that label went bust in the mid-'70's, Harrison formed his own label called Dark Horse, which became a subsidiary of Warner Bros. after a short partnership with A&M. He released all his remaining solo albums on the Dark Horse label. Six titles on that label were out of print for years, but were reissued in February 2004.

Harrison's debut on his label was the respectable Thirty-Three and 1/3, the title of which refers to both the r.p.m. speed of an LP and Harrison's age at the time of the recording. The album is highlighted by "Dear One" and "See Yourself", two strong examples of the type of spiritual songs that were Harrison's trademark. It is leavened by several more casual songs ("It's What You Value", "Crackerbox Palace"). His distinctive guitar sound makes the Cole Porter song "True Love" sound like his own. "This Song" refers to the long legal battle he faced over the similarity of his song "My Sweet Lord" to the Chiffons' "He's So Fine".

Track Listing:

1. Woman Don't You Cry For Me
2. Dear One
3. Beautiful Girl
4. This Song
5. See Yourself
6. It's What You Value
7. True Love
8. Pure Smokey
9. Crackerbox Palace
10. Learning How To Love You

Harrison's next release was his self-titled 1979 album, which found the middle-aged Beatle going middle-of-the-road. The best songs are the sublime single "Blow Away" and the gentle folk ballads "Here Comes The Moon" (sound familiar?) and "Dark Sweet Lady". Many of the other tracks are too light and airy for their own good. The only songs that wouldn't fit into an adult-contemporary radio format are the delirious "Soft-Hearted Hana" (a healthy dose of Beatlesque goofiness) and the only slightly faster "Faster", an ode to professional race car drivers. The use of Moog synthesizers (recognizably by Steve Winwood) and marimba add flavor.

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

George's next album was almost but not quite as laid back. Harrison sharpened his lyrical knives for Somewhere In England. Clearly shaken by the 1980 murder of John Lennon, Harrison eulogizes Lennon and attacks his critics on the engaging "All Those Years Ago", the album's one classic track. (Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr both participated in the recording of that song). Elsewhere, Harrison spews venom at record executives ("Blood From A Clone") and youth culture ("Unconsciousness Rules"), and preaches about the darkness in our world and in our souls. There's even a song called "Save The World", in which George sermonizes about nukes, whales, rain forests, etc. The bitter tone makes most of Somewhere In England somewhat unpleasant. The lighter moments unexpectedly come in the form of two Hoagy Carmichael covers ("Baltimore Oriole" and "Hong Kong Blues").

Track Listing:

1. Blood From A Clone
2. Unconsciousness Rules
3. Life Itself
4. All Those Years Ago
5. Baltimore Oriole
6. Teardrops
7. That Which I Have Lost
8. Writing's On The Wall
9. Hong Kong Blues
10. Save The World

The gloom lifted with the breezy Gone Troppo, one of his most underrated albums. This time around, George's lyrics about the state of the world are tempered by more lighthearted fare. Harrison played then-fashionable synthesizers along with his guitar, with appealing results. The use of guest vocalists on the good-time "I Really Love You" (by Bobby King) and "Dream Away" (by Syreeta Wright) are pleasant surprises. Gone Troppo is a good fun-in-the-sun album, Harrison-style.

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 Walk Away
9. Dream Away
10. Circles

After a five-year hiatus, Harrison made a high-profile comeback with Cloud Nine. Co-produced by Harrison and Jeff Lynne shortly before their adventures with the Traveling Wilburys, Cloud Nine finds Harrison fitting comfortably into the digital age. Lynne does add a personal touch to the album: the rocking "Devil's Radio" is slightly ELO-ish, and a few other songs (most notably "When We Was Fab" and "Breath Away From Heaven") filter a Beatlesque sound through Lynne's sensibilities. But this album belongs to Harrison. His distinctive guitar sound lends gentle beauty to "This Is Love" and "Someplace Else", and his ever-appealing voice conveys genuine longing on "Fish On The Sand" and "Just For Today". To top it all off, the album closes with the delightfully snappy "Got My Mind Set On You", which became George's first #1 hit in over a decade.

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. Got My Mind Set On You

Until the release of the 2004 box set, Best Of Dark Horse was the only compilation of Harrison's post-1975 work. It contained (in no particular order) 12 songs from the last five aforementioned albums on the Dark Horse label, two decent new songs ("Poor Little Girl" and "Cockamamie Business"), and "Cheer Down" from the
Lethal Weapon 2 soundtrack. The Thirty-Three and 1/3 album could have had more representation here, but Best Of Dark Horse is still a solid collection.

Track Listing:

1. Poor Little Girl
2. Blow Away
3. That's The Way It Goes
4. Cockamamie Business
5. Wake Up My Love
6. Life Itself
7. Got My Mind Set On You
8. Crackerbox Palace
9. Cloud 9
10. Here Comes The Moon
11. Gone Troppo
12. When We Was Fab
13. Love Comes To Everyone
14. All Those Years Ago
15. Cheer Down

The Canadian CD Chant And Be Happy! Indian Devotional Songs is a reissue of the self-titled 1971 album by the Radha Krishna Temple (Apple SKAO 3376). Harrison (who produced and provided harmonium, guitar, and bass) is given star billing on this reissue, and he is made to stand out in the cover photo. The CD consists of seven Indian-language chants by the temple's devotees, including the Hare Krishna mantra. As a bonus track, the CD features 10 minutes of excerpts from a 1969 conversation among Harrison, John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Swami Prabhupada. This CD will mainly be of interest to Harrison-philes and students of Eastern religion, but the chants have definite beauty, thanks in part to the professional presentation afforded by Harrison.

Track Listing:

1. Govinda
2. Sri Guruvastakam
3. Sri Ishopanishad
4. Bhaja Bhakata / Arati
5. Bhajahu Re Mana
6. Hare Krishna Mantra
7. Govinda Jaya Jaya
8. Room Conversation (Excerpts)

After a famously disastrous tour in 1974, Harrison had said he would never tour again, and he almost didn't. The only tour he undertook after that was in Japan in 1991, after being persuaded by Eric Clapton. The resulting double-album Live In Japan was released in 1992. Produced by "Spike and Nelson Wilbury" (Harrison's two Wilbury pseudonyms), the album has great sound quality. With strong support from Clapton and eight other musicians, the quiet Beatle gave surprisingly good performances for someone who hadn't toured in 17 years. The 19 songs cover nearly every phase of his career, consisting of several Beatles classics (when was the last time you heard a live version of "Piggies"?) and numerous songs from his solo albums. The only disappointment is an awkwardly sung rendition of "Something". Otherwise, Live In Japan is a wonderful showcase for Harrison. Sadly, it was his last release during his lifetime, excluding the posthumous Brainwashed in 2002.

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

Reviews of the Songs By George Harrison bonus discs

See also Beatles , Traveling Wilburys , Splinter



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