Tuesday, May 26, 2009

GEORGE HARRISON COMPILATIONS IN REVIEW

Let It Roll: The Songs of George Harrison, due June 16th, is only the third compilation of his work from his post-Beatles solo career. The first, Best of George Harrison, was a bit of cheat in that it included seven Beatles songs along with hits from his first four solo albums. Those albums were all on Capitol Records, which was also the Beatles’ label. For his fifth and subsequent albums, Harrison created his own label – Dark Horse. This led to the 1989 compilation, ‘Best of Dark Horse’, which included his six post-Capitol hits, six album cuts, “Cheer Down” from the ‘Lethal Weapon II’ soundtrack, and two new songs. With no repeats from the '76 album, the two combined gave you almost all of Harrison's solo hits (his #1 hit, "Isn't It a Pity", was inexplicably left off the Capitol set, and a #25 single, "This Song" was not on 'Best of Dark Horse').

So, 'Let it Roll' seems like the perfect opportunity to put all of his hit singles on one disc. This isn't the route they went, though, choosing to leave off five of his minor hits in favor of other album cuts. While the CD is career-spanning, it also passes over four albums entirely - 'Dark Horse'(1974), 'Extra Texture'(1975), 'Thirty Three & 1/3'(1976) and 'Gone Troppo'(1982). Granted, these weren't his greatest LPs, but there's good stuff on each of them. 'Roll' has three songs apiece from his last two albums. I might have cut those to two and inserted some middle period stuff Even though I revere his last two albums - Cloud Nine (my favorite all-time album) and 'Brainwashed' (recorded 15 years later!), I think it would be a fairer look at his solo career.

The one true rarity on the CD is "I Don't Want to Do It", Harrison's version of an unrecorded Bob Dylan song. It's only appeared on the soundtrack to Porky's Revenge. Dave Edmunds, put together the soundtrack and called in favors from friends like George Harrison, Jeff Beck and Robert Plant. I read an interview with Edmunds where he said he didn't really know what the movie was about and regretted getting his pals involved. It's been reissued on CD before, but it's out of print.

So, to buy or not to buy? If you have all the recent album reissues, probably not. I'm sure it sounds great, and if you're missing some of these songs it's worth a listen. George's career is under appreciated. While it could get bogged down in low-tempo religious paeans, it was so much more than that.

Let It Roll tracklisting:
Got My Mind Set On You
Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)
The Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)
My Sweet Lord
While My Guitar Gently Weeps [Live] - Concert For Bangladesh
All Things Must Pass
Any Road
This Is Love
All Those Years Ago
Marwa Blues
What Is Life
Rising Sun
When We Was Fab
Something [Live] - Concert For Bangladesh
Blow Away
Cheer Down
Here Comes The Sun [Live] - Concert For Bangladesh
I Don't Want To Do It
Isn't It A Pity

4 comments:

Arsenio Orteza said...

I *cannot believe* that neither "This Song" nor "Crackerbox Palace" is on this collection while *three* Bangladesh Beatles covers are. Stupid, stupid, stupid....

Vernon said...

"Isn't It A Pity" was certainly not a "#1 hit"; it was the b-side of "My Sweet Lord".

Matt Tauber said...

Vernon - I thought "My Sweet Lord"/"Isn't It a Pity" was a double-A side single. I got my chart info from Billboard.

The Fan With No Name!!! said...

...this should have had "YOU" as well...as far as I'm concerned...