George Harrison

Album Reviews:

1970: All Things Must Pass

1971: The Concert for Bangla Desh

All Things Must Pass

Rating: 9.9/10
Rated as
: Album
Album Status: Classic
Released: 1970
Specific Genre: Folk Rock
Main Genre: Rock, Folk Rock
: Roots Rock, Contemporary Folk, Singer-Songwriter
Label: Apple

Side A: 1. I’d Have You Anytime 2. My Sweet Lord 3. Wah-Wah 4. Isn’t It a Pity (Version 1)
Side B: 5. What Is Life 6. If Not for You 7. Behind That Locked Door 8. Let It Down 9. Run of the Mill
Side C: 10. Beware of Darkness 11. Apple Scruffs 12. Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) 13. Awaiting on You All 14. All Things Must Pass
Side D: 15. I Dig Love 16. Art of Dying 17. Isn’t It a Pity (Version 2) 18. Hear Me Lord
Side E: 19. Out of the Blues 20. It’s Johnny’s Birthday 21. Plug Me In
Side F: 22. I Remember Jeep 23. Thanks for the Pepperoni

Sunrise doesn’t last all morning

With its world-weary tone, its heavily melancholic, sweeping folk rock anthems, Harrison’s monolithic solo debut really is kind of a downer as far as great, big, hugely succesful rock albums go. But interspersed in Harrison’s overall message about perish and resignment are rollicking wah-wah-riff driven songs, sweet (but unsentimental) home-brewed folk tunes and an overall sense of achievement and hope. All Things Must Pass is the definite solo-debut about having been a Beatle, if only because the debut albums of his peers were about themselves. Harrison’s album is about discovering himself as a songwriter, and the Phil-Spector-production somehow doesn’t hurt – the songs are too strong. The album picks up where Harrison’s “My Guitar Gently Weeps” took off and doesn’t let go once – well, up until the third LP, an entire record’s worth of goofy blues rock jams, which do work conceptually, to put it favourably.

It took me a while to get into this, because Harrison’s voice hiding behind the mix and some of the winding, slowly unfolding song structures add to the dreariness and emotional opacity – but he knew what he was doing. Quite amazing, the biggest statement in a rock context about wanting to recede from the hustle.

The Concert for Bangla Desh

Rating: 7.9/10
Rated as
: Album / Live
Album Status: Classic
Released: 1971
Specific Genre: Folk Rock
Main Genre: Rock, Folk Rock
: Roots Rock, Gospel Rock, Contemporary Folk
Label: Apple

Side A: 1. Introduction (George Harrison & Ravi Shankar) 2. Bangla Dhun (Ravi Shankar)
Side B: 3. Wah-Wah (George Harrison) 4. My Sweet Lord 5. Awaiting On You All 6. That’s the Way God Planned It (Billy Preston)
Side C: 7. It Don’t Come Easy (Ringo Starr) 8. Beware of Darkness (George Harrison) 9. Band Introduction 10. Whily My Guitar Gently Weeps
Side D: 11. Medley: Jumpin‘ Jack Flash / Youngblood (Leon Russell) 12. Here Comes the Sun (George Harrison)
Side E: 13. A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall (Bob Dylan) 14. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry 15. Blowin‘ in the Wind 16. Mr. Tambourine Man 17. Just Like a Woman 18. Something (George Harrison) 19. Bangla Desh

Although I couldn’t feel the pain, I knew I had to try

Massively influential as a cultural happening, directly inspiring (not uncontroversial) mega concerts such as Live Aid and Farm Aid, The Concert for Bangla Desh marks another milestone involving a Beatle: Rock music exerting direct power as activism, even though its impact gets diffused by the vague and splintered, though big ideas carrying it. This is to say, it’s part of a series of very different beasts: While Woodstock had been about the audience and Live Aid would be about the participants as super stars, Harrison’s concert was, somewhat unbelievably, about the cause.

Ramshackle and organized on the fly (using an uncredited Stephen Stills’s equipment), the confluence of cultural density here is massive, as the concert’s frame elevates each performance. ‘Serious music’ (quote Harrison) of Shankar’s raga is juxtaposed with Harrison’s heart-wrenchingly played material, a stoned Ringo forgetting his lyrics meets an invisible, drug-hampered Clapton – and Dylan, who hadn’t appeared publicly in years, turns in a terrific, bright mini-concert of acoustic classics (no vanity there). But it’s Leon Russell’s backing tour band (whom he insisted on bringing) with its roots and gospel flavour that provides a backbone and adds the according flesh to the rock music on display. Russell’s roots rock medley of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash / Young Blood”, with Russell’s yelping voice, half-drunk backing vocalists and restless piano pounding, is nothing short of exhilarating. All in all, the quality of the music is enhanced, not smothered by the occasion. And it’s a nice bit of trivia that „Young Blood“ was an early Beatles’ live-staple and none other than George had lead vocals on their Live at the BBC version. Rock mythology, failed ideals and, harrowingly, a surprisingly good product.