Thirty Three & 1/3
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|Thirty Three & 1/3|
|Studio album by George Harrison|
|Released||19 November 1976 (UK)
24 November 1976 (US)
|Recorded||24 May–13 September 1976
|Genre||Rock, pop, soul, funk|
|Producer||George Harrison with Tom Scott|
|George Harrison chronology|
|Singles from Thirty Three & 1/3|
Thirty Three & 1/3 (stylised as Thirty Three & 1/ on the album cover) is the sixth studio album by English musician George Harrison, released in November 1976. It was Harrison's first album release on his Dark Horse record label, the worldwide distribution for which changed from A&M Records to Warner Bros. as a result of his late delivery of the album's master tapes. Among other misfortunes affecting its creation, Harrison was waylaid with hepatitis midway through recording, and the copyright infringement suit regarding his 1970–71 hit song "My Sweet Lord" was decided in favour of the plaintiff, Bright Tunes Music. The album contains the hit singles "This Song" – Harrison's satire on that court case and the notion of plagiarism in pop music – and "Crackerbox Palace". Despite the problems associated with the album, many music critics recognised Thirty Three & 1/3 as a return to form for Harrison after his poorly received work during 1974–75, and considered it his strongest collection of songs since 1970's acclaimed All Things Must Pass.
Harrison recorded Thirty Three & 1/3 at his Friar Park home studio, with production assistance from Tom Scott. Other musicians on the recording include Billy Preston, Gary Wright, Willie Weeks and David Foster. Harrison undertook extensive promotion for the album, which included producing video clips for three of the songs and making a number of radio and television appearances, including a celebrated live performance with singer-songwriter Paul Simon on NBC-TV's Saturday Night Live. The album was remastered in 2004 as part of the Dark Horse Years 1976–1992 reissues following Harrison's death in 2001.
Background and recording
After satisfying his EMI contract with Extra Texture (Read All About It), Harrison signed with Dark Horse Records, distribution for which had been with A&M Records since the label's founding in May 1974. A part of their agreement was that Harrison would deliver his new album by 25 June 1976. But he was stricken with hepatitis and was only able to start recording the record in late May. Not wanting to rush his debut album on his own label, Harrison put off A&M, telling them the album would be ready when it was ready. But with Dark Horse's other artists no longer doing so well, and Harrison's star on the wane, A&M decided they wanted to offload the label and promptly sued Harrison for late delivery of Thirty Three & 1/3 in September. Within weeks, Harrison had moved both Dark Horse and himself over to Mo Ostin and Warner Bros. Records, who were more than pleased to have him, and Thirty Three & 1/3 and its lead single, "This Song", the upbeat and sardonic send-up of the "He's So Fine"/"My Sweet Lord" court case (which Harrison lost in 1976) were both released that November.
Release and reception
|Melody Maker||(highly favourable)|
Named for the fact that he was thirty-three and a third years old during its recording (as well as being the speed at which the vinyl album would be played), Thirty Three & 1/3 gave Harrison his strongest reviews since All Things Must Pass (1970). Billboard magazine described the release as "a sunny, upbeat album of love songs and cheerful jokes that is his happiest and most commercial package, with least high-flown postures, for perhaps his entire solo career". The reviewer rated the production "top-notch" before concluding: "And Harrison's often-spectacular melody writing gift gets brilliant display here."
Thirty Three & 1/3 outsold Dark Horse and Extra Texture in the US, where it peaked at number 11 on its way to being certified gold by the RIAA and selling around 800,000 copies. In the UK, the album made it to number 35. While the US single "Crackerbox Palace" made the top 20 (and "This Song" number 25), none of the singles released in the UK charted.
Among his extensive promotional activities for Thirty Three and 1/3, Harrison made an appearance with Paul Simon as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on 20 November 1976, and in some of the show's comedy sketches. The duo performed "Here Comes the Sun" and "Homeward Bound" together on the programme. (The live Harrison-Simon performance of "Homeward Bound" was later included on the 1990 various artists' charity album, Nobody's Child: Romanian Angel Appeal and is also found on The Essential Paul Simon, Simon's greatest hits record released in 2007 on the bonus DVD.) The promotional videos for "Crackerbox Palace" and "This Song", both directed by Eric Idle, debuted on the same episode. A third video by Idle, for "True Love", was also produced in association with the album, but did not air on SNL. Idle appears in the video as a guardian angel, with Harrison appearing like an Idle Edwardian Period character in straw hat and handlebar mustache.
In 2004, Thirty Three & 1/3 was remastered and reissued both separately and as part of the deluxe box set The Dark Horse Years 1976–1992 on Dark Horse with new distribution by EMI, adding the bonus track "Tears of the World", an outtake from the 1980 sessions for Somewhere in England.
All songs written by George Harrison, except where noted.
- Side one
- "Woman Don't You Cry for Me" – 3:18
- "Dear One" – 5:08
- "Beautiful Girl" – 3:39
- "This Song" – 4:13
- "See Yourself" – 2:51
- Side two
- "It's What You Value" – 5:07
- "True Love" (Cole Porter) – 2:45
- "Pure Smokey" – 3:56
- "Crackerbox Palace" – 3:57
- "Learning How to Love You" – 4:13
- Bonus tracks
For the 2004 digitally remastered issue of Thirty Three & 1/3, a bonus track was added:
- "Tears of the World" – 4:02
iTunes bonus track:
- "Learning How to Love You (Early Mix)" – 4:13
The following personnel are credited in the liner notes.
- George Harrison – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, synthesizers, percussion, backing vocals
- Tom Scott – saxophones, flute, lyricon
- Richard Tee – piano, organ, Fender Rhodes
- Willie Weeks – bass
- Alvin Taylor – drums
- Billy Preston – piano, organ, synthesizer
- David Foster – Fender Rhodes, clavinet
- Gary Wright – keyboards
- Emil Richards – marimba
Shipments and sales
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- "Top Album Picks", Billboard, 21 December 1974, p. 63 (retrieved 28 November 2012).
- "CG: George Harrison". Robert Christgau.
- Ray Coleman, "Harrison Regains His Rubber Soul", Melody Maker, 27 November 1976, p. 23.
- John Metzger. "George Harrison – Thirty-Three & 1/3 / Dark Horse Years (Box Set / Album Review)". Musicbox-online.com.
- Bob Woffinden, "George Harrison: Thirty-Three & 1/3", NME, 27 November 1976; available at Rock's Back Pages (retrieved 17 July 2012).
- "Artist: George Harrison > Albums", Official Charts Company (retrieved 30 April 2013).
- Thirty Three & 1/3 (CD booklet). Dark Horse Records. 2004. p. 9.
- All Things Must Pass > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums, Allmusic (retrieved 30 April 2013).
- George Harrison – Thirty-Three & 1/3, norwegiancharts.com (retrieved 30 April 2013).
- a-ザ・ビートルズ "– Yamachan Land (Archives of the Japanese record charts) – Albums Chart Daijiten – The Beatles" (in Japanese). 30 December 2007. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
- ジョージ・ハリスン-リリース-ORICON STYLE-ミュージック "Highest position and charting weeks of 33 1/3 by George Harrison". Oricon Style. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
- "RIAA – Gold & Platinum – Searchable Database". Retrieved 3 October 2009.
- "George Harrison Japanese Album Chart trajectories". October 2006. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
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- Gary Tillery, Working Class Mystic: A Spiritual Biography of George Harrison, Quest Books (Wheaton, IL, 2011; ISBN 978-0-8356-0900-5).
- Bob Woffinden, The Beatles Apart, Proteus (London, 1981; ISBN 0-906071-89-5).