Monday, December 29, 2008

George Harrison 8: George Harrison

Don’t be alarmed by his poodle perm on the cover, disturbing as it is. George Harrison surfaced what seemed like ages after his last album, in an era when only Paul seemed to be worthy of our wallets. It turned out George was worth our time and money this go-round.
The opening notes of “Love Comes To Everyone” are encouraging, and the rest of the song is just as good. There’s lots of guitars, and he found a decent synth sound in Steve Winwood’s Oberheim. A fantastic start. “Not Guilty” is a softer, nearly note-for-note version of one of the more famous Beatles outtakes. Its slow fade at the end sets us up for another rewrite, the slightly successful “Here Comes The Moon”. While nowhere near as universal as its predecessor, it uses a sinuous electric piano bed to support the upside-down acoustic guitar line. On its own, it’s right on target. “Soft-Hearted Hana” starts with the atmosphere of his favorite local pub before leading us on a lysergic trip through vaudeville, complete with fluctuating tape speed towards the end of the song. The side closes with the charming “Blow Away”, proving he could really write a hit single when he wanted to. It’s also a very happy song for a change.
A racing car revs up in the left channel and zooms over to the right to start “Faster”, a tribute to his new buddies at Brands Hatch. “Dark Sweet Lady” is a fairly overt song for his new wife, with Hawaiian undercurrents aplenty. “Your Love Is Forever” is just gorgeous all over: an open tuning that doesn’t drone, with melodies and harmonies just packed with real emotion. George has always layered his own backing vocals on his albums, and always in such an unobtrusive manner that they’re often ignored. This is another one of his love songs that could apply to any object you wish. “Soft Touch” may not necessarily be about his young son, but it’s still catchy. The album ends on a strong, upbeat level with “If You Believe”, co-written with Dream Weaver and longtime Harrison session rat Gary Wright.
On its own, it’s not much, but coming after the last few, it has endured. From start to finish George Harrison is an enjoyable listen, and doesn’t embarrass even in the slightest. At the time it didn’t get any respect—it was a really bad hairdo—but it’s certainly aged the best out of any of his mid-to-late ‘70s albums. Overall, it’s a genuinely enjoyable listen, since he seems so content with his current situation. Coming from Paul, this mood would have started to grate. Coming from George, it was a welcome sensation.

George Harrison George Harrison (1979)—
2004 Dark Horse Years reissue: same as 1979, plus 1 extra track

3 comments:

  1. If he sounds content, he ended the decade with a beautiful new wife, new clone/son and pints at the pub with Monty Python. Only a clown wouldn’t be content with that.
    This album and Cloud Nine leave me with the same feeling: the recordings sound dated. But both albums are populated with his best non-ATMP, non-LITMW, non-Brainwashed writing, and arguing about whether the recordings sound dated is a luxury. Many of the songs on the albums between LITMW and GH, and again between GH and Cloud Nine, sound dated AND they’re crap. There is real effort from George on GH and it shows on everything other than the perm. The perm is evil.
    GH is a nice little blip in the middle of his discography.

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  2. So does this mean that the long awaited review for Gone Troppo is coming soon? I admit, I only ever bought it - and then on cassette at a gas station - for Dream Away (as heard in Time Bandits).

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  3. All shall truly be revealed in time.

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