Jun 102014

Over the years I’ve thought I wanted to delve more deeply into George Harrison’s solo catalog. I know what the general feeling has been but All Things Must Pass is a classic by almost anyone’s standards. And Living in the Material World has enough charms that I bought the reissue a few yeas back to supplant the old vinyl copy. And I bought the big comeback, Cloud Nine, way back when and remember liking it well enough (even if I don’t remember too much of it very well now).

Over the last several decades I thought I should try some of the maligned records that came out between Material World and Cloud Nine but never had; after all, how bad could they be? Back a decade ago after George died a box set of all the Dark Horse material came out and that tempted me.

Thank the music gods that I resisted!

I recently borrowed the one disc Best of Dark Horse, 1976-1989, and it is stunningly pedestrian. There’s one cut that would deserve to go on a true Harrison best of, “Blow Away,” thanks to a stellar chorus. And I’d listen to “Got My Mind Set On You,” “Crackerbox Palace,” “When We Was Fab,” and “All Those Years Ago” all the way through if they came on the car radio (although “When We Was Fab” belongs more on an ELO album – and not a greatest hits ELO album).

And the other 10 tracks, well, if that’s the best of the Dark Horse albums then they must be horrible. I won’t subject any of you to any of them here; seek them out at your own risk.

Am I being too harsh? Why did he even bother putting out this dreck? And is there a worse Best of than this? No cheating on that last question; we all know Christopher CrossBest of sucks (at least I presume it does).


  19 Responses to “Isn’t It A Pity? or Worst Best?”

  1. BigSteve

    To quote Rick James, “Cocaine is a hell of a drug.”

  2. misterioso

    I think you are being a little too harsh, yes. I certainly can’t make an argument for the vast riches of the Dark Horse years in general; though I think the George Harrison lp (which features “Blow Away”) is pretty solid. Mostly they are mediocre, but each has a couple of good songs. I mostly like the Best of Dark Horse, once some allowances have been made for some very shaky production decisions (Wake Up My Love, for example) and a leaden tune or two (Life Itself) or just sheer awfulness (Gone Troppo). Neither of George’s Best of collections really does the trick, though; several years ago I made my own from singles, lp tracks, B-sides, and unreleased cuts. I think it is quite nice.

  3. Even based on your tepid comments I don’t think I’m being too harsh. And part of the harshness is because it’s George Harrison which is why I’d term this “Worst Best”. You can take 15 songs from All Things Must Pass and get a better collection than this. Is this the best that George came up with over 13 years?!?!

    How about sharing your home-made (reference intended) track list?

  4. I’m probably in the minority, but I think most of All Things Must Pass is crap. All those slow, 6-minute odes to the glory of George’s OmniGod and the tiny, humble state of humanity bore me. Then there’s “Wah Wah,” which starts like a house on fire before going nowhere. Unless I’m forgetting something, “What Is Life” and “If Not For You” blow away everything else on that album.

    For me there may be a half dozen essential solo George tracks. I agree with your run of songs that I wouldn’t change if they came on the radio, but I don’t consider them essential. I’m glad you singled out “Blow Away,” which does have an excellent chorus.

    George’s last album, Brainwashed, has one song that I’ll put up there with anything else from his catalog: “Stuck Inside a Cloud.” Hell, I’d include that one on a Best of John Lennon.


  5. Or, on second thought, was George’s company handmade?

  6. Come to think of it, “Blow Away” is the best Wings single Wings never recorded.

  7. diskojoe

    One thing that always gets me is that both George Harrison Best Of (1976 & 2006?) have songs that he did w/the Beatles, either the original versions or live versions (“Something”, “Taxman”, “While My Guitar Gently Sleeps”). None of the other solo Beatles best ofs do this, not even Ringo’s.

  8. misterioso

    I sure will–don’t have it with me now but will do so later. It is all post-All Things Must Pass.

  9. misterioso

    Mod, can you install a button for whatever the opposite of a high five is (maybe a smack upside the head?) so I can click it about a thousand times for this post?

    I think it is one of the greatest records of the first half of the 70s. Actually, I think it is one of the greatest records, period.

    I am excluding Apple Jam (which, perhaps, to be a contrarian, you think is just swell, for all I know–plus, no scary songs about God!). I think “I Dig Love” is a useless track, and it is insane that he omitted the great song “I Live For You” that finally came out as a bonus track in the 2000s. I think the 2nd “Isn’t It a Pity” is unnecessary. The rest is fantastic.

    I also wonder if you’re even thinking of the right album. Your critique would be spot on if the album under discussion were Living in the Material World. But on All Things the only song that goes over 6 minutes is “Isn’t It a Pity” (the first, better known version). By my reckoning there are 3 songs that deal with what you call George’s OmniGod: “My Sweet Lord” (obviously), “Awaiting on You All,” and “Hear Me Lord.” The first two are short and peppy. The last of these is the only song that fits the bill. (It’s almost 6 minutes long, and pretty slow. I also think it’s a good song.) But perhaps you are under the impression that Sir Frankie Crisp is another name for Lord Krishna.

  10. 2000 Man

    There’s a dude I never understood. I thought CrackerJack Palace was a lousy children’s song and I can’t think of any of his solo songs I’d want to hear again except maybe Wah Wah. I know he’s actually really dead, and by all accounts was a pretty nice guy, but like Alan Parsons Project or Al Stewart, musically he’s been Dead To Me for decades. That stuff comes on, I turn it off. I heard it, and I’m done with it.

  11. I’ll pull the album out when I get some time and “prove” that I’m right. “My Sweet Lord” would be great at half the length. Stay tuned -right now I’m awaiting the removal of stitches.

  12. 2000 Man

    I think you’re right. I’m pretty sure all those songs are a minimum of six minutes long. I think they’re probably more like sixty minutes each.

  13. misterioso

    1. It Don’t Come Easy (1971; his demo, essentially the same recording as Ringo’s single only with George singing)
    2. Bangla Desh (1971, single)
    3. Give Me Love (1973)
    4. Miss O’Dell (1973, b-side)
    5. You (1975)
    6. This Guitar (1975)
    7. Crackerbox Palace (1976)
    8. Blow Away (1979)
    9. Soft-Hearted Hana (1979)
    10. Faster (1979)
    11. Love Comes to Everyone (1979)
    12. All Those Years Ago (1981)
    13. I Don’t Wanna Do It (Dylan; 1985)
    14. Cloud 9 (1987)
    15. Got My Mind Set on You (1985)
    16. Lay His Head (1987)
    17. When We Was Fab (1987)
    18. Poor Little Girl (1989)
    19. Cheer Down (1989)
    20. Horse to the Water (2001)

    Nothing from Brainwashed but not because it doesn’t have some good songs.

  14. cherguevara

    Al Stewart… worthy of serious consideration? He seemed like John Lennon-lite to me. I was in a band that had some manager named Al Stewart pledging interest in us, so we learned “Year of the Cat” and played it when he came to a show. I think that scared him away real good.

  15. Misterioso, no love for “This Song”? 33 1/3 is the last album I frequently listened to from George. So many of his albums had a lot of filler. I thought his only high water mark after that was his work with the Wilburys. He’s always had kind of a high wifty voice, but it seemed to get even less substantial after the mid-70s. All Things Must Pass is GREAT, but you do get a complete waste with the apple jam disk. That can’t be ignored. And, having almost identical versions of the same song on one album is a curious choice.

  16. mockcarr

    I think there are also some demos kicking around that George could have released/polished up that would have been pretty good tracks, like this one done for the Wonderwall project – which is better than Blue Jay Way and mines that same sonic terrain.

  17. I’ve never heard this one and agree it could have amounted to something; certainly it’s better than a good many songs on Best of Dark Horse, 1976-1989. But it and more than a couple of tracks from misterioso’s list, being before and after the Dark Horse years, strengthen the point – this album I listened to is pretty poor if it’s the cream of the crop of 5 Dark Horse albums.

    Dave Davies could put together a much better solo best of.

  18. Live In Japan is the real best of GeorgeHarrison. I agree that the amazi g All Things was followed up by inconsistent at best LPs. I am a big fan of Cloud 9 and Brainwashed though.

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