Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Essential George Harrison

This guy hits me in a spiritual place that has previousy only been visited by Dylan and the Grateful Dead. As soulful as any R&B singer and as musically talented as they come. I'm not gonna break these albums down song by song because frankly, words won't do each one justice. Suffice to say, you need these recordings.
First off is the wellspring that is All Things Must Pass. This album is atop the Mt Everest of recordings. After having dozens of his songs rejected by John & Paul, the "quiet Beatle" is finally allowed to spread his wings and let it all hang out. With a super group backing him that is comprised of Clapton, Ringo, Bad Finger, Billy Preston, Jim Keltner, and many more, George leads the group through a collection of songs that can only be described sheer genius. I first got this album on vinyl back in the late 80's when my mother found it in mint condition, still in the original box, at a garage sale. I have listened to this album literally hundreds of times and it never loses its punch. The styles range from acoustic folk, R&B, to balls to the wall rock n' roll. The cherry on top is the brilliant "wall of sound" created by Phil Spector.
Next is an album called Living In The Material World. This comes from a period that I can best describe as George's "blue" period. While most of the songs are sad in nature, he somehow manages to line them all with a positive feeling of hope. That's one of the things I love most about him and can relate to in a personal way. Despite being overlooked and hidden in the shadow of John & Paul, he always puts such a wonderful uplifting spin to his music. I'd be surprised if you had ever heard any of the songs from this album on commercial radio, which makes it just that much more appealing. A true hidden treasure in George's catalogue if ever there was one. Top to bottom, it's an emotional plea for peace, love, and understanding among the human race.
It would be several years before he would release another consistently brilliant album, but he did just that in the late 80's with the album Cloud 9. Once again the supporting cast is nothing but chart toppers including Clapton, Ringo, Elton John, and Jeff Lynne(who produced as well). A album like none of his previous efforts, the unique song collection along with masterful production makes this a must have. At first listen it might appear to be just a hodge-podge of songs put together to fulfill a contractual agreement. And it may very well have been since some like 'Breath Away From Heaven' had been around for a few years(it first appeared in the disastrous Harrison produced Shanghi Surprise soundtrack). But let me assure you this is a truly original "come back" for George, no filler within earshot.
Finally, I come to the fantastic Traveling Wilburys Volume 1. A collaboration like none other, this recording brings together some of the biggest selling music stars of all time. How easily this could have come off as a pretentious-we're-only-in-it-for-the money event, but quite the opposite is true. Their cheeky humor and magical chemistry shines through in each song. While most of the songs were written separately, the "in the moment" recordings capture all the fun that must have been present in the studio with Orbison, Harrison, Petty, Lynne, and Dylan each given their moment to shine. While Volume 3 was more of a true collaboration, the spontaneity of this album surpasses its brother in both songwriting and sheer fun.

iPod Song of the Day: 'You're The Top' sung by Cole Porter


Post a Comment

<< Home