|Soundtrack album by George Harrison|
|Released||1 November 1968
2 December 1968 (US)
|Recorded||November 1967–February 1968
Abbey Road Studios, London; HMV Studios, Bombay
|Genre||Indian classical, rock, country, experimental|
|George Harrison chronology|
Wonderwall Music is the soundtrack album to the 1968 film Wonderwall, and the debut solo release by English musician George Harrison. It was the first album to be issued on the Beatles' Apple record label, and the first solo album by a member of that band. The songs are all instrumental pieces, except for occasional non-English vocals, and a slowed-down spoken word segment on the track "Dream Scene". Harrison recorded the album between November 1967 and February 1968, with sessions taking place in London and the Indian city of Bombay. Following his Indian-styled compositions for the Beatles since 1966, he used the film soundtrack to further promote Indian classical music by introducing rock audiences to musical instruments that were relatively little-known in the West – including shehnai, sarod and santoor.
Harrison's main collaborator on the project was classical pianist and orchestral arranger John Barham, while other contributors include Indian classical musicians Aashish Khan, Shivkumar Sharma, Shankar Ghosh and Mahapurush Misra. Harrison also recorded Western rock music selections for the album, which feature contributions from Tony Ashton and the latter's band, the Remo Four, as well as guest appearances from Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and Peter Tork. During the sessions, Harrison recorded many other pieces that appeared in Wonderwall but not on the soundtrack album, and the Beatles' song "The Inner Light" also originated from his time in Bombay. Although the album's release in November 1968 marked the end of Harrison's direct involvement with Indian music, it inspired his later collaborations with Ravi Shankar, including the 1974 Music Festival from India.
The album cover consists of a painting by American artist Bob Gill in which, as in director Joe Massot's film, two contrasting worlds are separated by a wall, with only a small gap allowing visual access between them. Harrison omitted his name from the list of performing musicians, leading to an assumption that he had merely produced and arranged the music; the 2014 reissue of Wonderwall Music recognises his contributions on keyboards and guitar. The album was first remastered for CD release in 1992, for which former Apple executive Derek Taylor supplied a liner-note essay.
While viewed as something of a curiosity by rock music critics, Wonderwall Music is recognised for its inventiveness in fusing Western and Eastern sounds, and as being a precursor to the 1980s world music trend. The album's title inspired that of Oasis' 1995 hit song "Wonderwall", and its music influenced the sound of Oasis' fellow Britpop band Kula Shaker. Harrison's full soundtrack for the film was made available on DVD in early 2014, as part of the two-disc Wonderwall Collector's Edition. In September that year, the album was reissued in remastered form as part of the Apple Years 1968–75 Harrison box set, with the addition of three bonus tracks.
- 1 Background
- 2 Concept and composition
- 3 Recording
- 4 Contributing musicians
- 5 Musical content
- 6 Film premiere and aftermath
- 7 Album artwork
- 8 Release
- 9 Reception
- 10 Cultural influence and legacy
- 11 Track listing
- 12 Personnel
- 13 See also
- 14 Notes
- 15 Citations
- 16 Sources
- 17 External links
The soundtrack to director Joe Massot's film Wonderwall (1968), Wonderwall Music was George Harrison's first formal musical project outside the Beatles, created during a time when he was immersed in his discovery of Indian classical music. It also coincided with a period when Harrison had had minimal interest in the Beatles' recent activities, namely their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the TV film Magical Mystery Tour.
Having met the Beatles while the band were shooting their 1965 film Help!, Massot offered the soundtrack project to Harrison after the Bee Gees had dropped out in October 1967. Harrison viewed Wonderwall at Twickenham Film Studios and was intrigued by the storyline, in which a lonely professor (played by Irish actor Jack MacGowran) first glimpses and then becomes obsessed by his glamorous female neighbour, a Vogue model (played by Jane Birkin), via a hole in the wall separating their apartments. Harrison biographer Simon Leng writes: "The lack of dialogue left acres of room for music to speak, and a soupçon of cosmic apotheosis also helped. Beneath all its glaring trippiness, Wonderwall touched on themes that would come to preoccupy George Harrison – critically, the objectification of celebrities and the shallowness of fame."
Concept and composition
With Massot allowing him full artistic control, Harrison treated the soundtrack as an opportunity to further educate rock and pop audiences in facets of Indian music. Following his use of Indian musical instruments such as sitar, tambura, swarmandal, dilruba and tabla in his work with the Beatles, Harrison chose to write pieces for less well-known instruments. These included the oboe-like shehnai, traditionally used in religious ceremonies; the sarod, similar to a lute; and the santoor, a type of hammered dulcimer with up to 100 strings. In addition, he would provide selections in the more familiar, rock music genre.
Harrison's key collaborator on the project was John Barham, who, as a classically trained pianist and musical arranger, annotated the melodies that Harrison sang to him and transcribed them onto sheet music for the Indian musicians. Leng describes Barham as Harrison's "fellow traveler", due to the two musicians' shared appreciation of Indian classical music, and writes that because Harrison needed a collaborator who "empathized with his [musical] ideas", Barham was a natural choice over George Martin, the Beatles' producer and orchestral arranger.
All of the soundtrack music was written by Harrison. As with his songs for the Beatles over this period, including the Indian-styled "Within You, Without You" and "Blue Jay Way", he composed many of the pieces on keyboard instruments such as piano or organ, rather than guitar. Harrison later described how he went about preparing the score: "I had a regular wind-up stopwatch and I watched the film to 'spot-in' the music with the watch. I wrote the timings down in my book, then I'd go to [the recording studio], make up a piece, record it."
The recording sessions for Wonderwall Music began on 22 November 1967 at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London. That day, Harrison recorded with a tabla player and flautists Richard Adeney and Jack Ellory, taping pieces titled "Swordfencing", "India", "Backwards Tabla" and "Backwards Tones". On 23 November, he carried out further work on some of these selections, with a line-up that included two oboe players, a trumpeter and two flautists. Authors Chip Madinger and Mark Easter suggest that some of these recordings may have been used as musical cues in the film but excluded from the soundtrack album, while "Swordfencing" was a piece that Harrison incorporated into "Dream Scene" on the album. Over this period, Harrison also worked at another London studio, De Lane Lea Studios. According to a contemporary issue of Beatles Monthly magazine, further work continued at Abbey Road on 11, 20 and 31 December. The Wonderwall sessions were officially Harrison's first as a producer, although he had directed the recording of his songs "Love You To" and "Within You, Without You" over 1966–67 with minimal input from Martin and the other Beatles.
After another London session with Indian musicians on 5 January 1968, Harrison recorded much of the album between 9 and 13 January at HMV Studios in Bombay, India. In contrast to the multitrack recording carried out at Abbey Road, the music taped in Bombay was captured on a two-track machine converted from mono. In the book The Beatles Anthology, Harrison recalls that EMI India's managing director, Bhaskar Menon, personally delivered the stereo recorder by train from Calcutta. The Bombay studio's soundproofing was similarly inadequate, resulting in traffic noise from the street below appearing on pieces such as "In the Park".
Following his return to England on 18 January, Harrison recorded more Western music for the soundtrack, again at Abbey Road, with much of the work being done on 30 January, according to musicologist Walter Everett. Final mixing began on the 31st, and a late overdubbing session took place on 11 February, when extra sound effects were added to "Dream Scene". Harrison had finished the album before going back to India on 15 February, with bandmate John Lennon and their wives, to take part in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation course.
Having been allocated a budget of £600, Harrison eventually spent £15,000 on recording the film soundtrack, paying the difference himself. Also recorded in Bombay was the backing track to "The Inner Light", which became the B-side to "Lady Madonna", the Beatles' final single on Parlophone Records. Another product of the London sessions was the Remo Four song "In the First Place", although it would remain unreleased until the late 1990s.
Before the 2014 reissue of Wonderwall Music, the album's sleeve credits were found to be inaccurate or incomplete by authors such as Bruce Spizer, Peter Lavezzoli, and Madinger and Easter. Lavezzoli observes that many of the Indian names were misspelt, while Spizer comments on the incorrect recording information and he supplies a track-by-track line-up of musicians, several of whom were omitted from the official credits. Everett provides a list of Indian musical instruments that appear on the album; of these, tambura, swarmandal and dilruba are similarly given no mention on the sleeve.
Harrison's name also does not appear among the performers on the original album sleeve, and many commentators have traditionally credited him only as producer and arranger at the sessions. After consulting Barham for his book While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Leng credits Harrison as a performing musician, and Spizer also recognises him in his track-by-track list. Among other changes, the performer credits in the 2014 reissue include Harrison, on piano and guitar.
Having used personnel from London's Asian Music Circle on "Love You To" and "Within You, Without You", Harrison was now keen to "go to the source", Leng writes, and work with the best musicians in India. For their part, the Indian players were "fascinated" to be following Western rules of harmony in Harrison's compositions, according to author Alan Clayson. They included sarodya Aashish Khan and tablist Mahapurush Misra, the last of whom was the regular accompanist to Khan's father, Ali Akbar Khan. Aashish Khan and Misra's contributions were recorded at Abbey Road Studios, however, after the two musicians had arrived in London in December 1967.
The musicians in Bombay were recruited by Shambu Das, a student of sitarist Ravi Shankar, like Harrison and Barham. Harrison had sent a telegram to Das on 29 December 1967, requesting "2 or 3 shanhai 3 sitar and one dha shanhai" for the sessions. The shenhai players were Sharad Kumar and Hanuman Jadev, while the tar shehnai (or dha shanhai, a bow-played string instrument similar to an esraj) was performed by Vinayak Vora. Along with Das, Indril Bhattacharya was one of the sitarists, and Chandrashekhar Naringrekar played surbahar (bass sitar); the tablist was Shankar Ghosh, although the original album credits listed him on sitar.
Rijram Desad, a multi-instrumentalist whose past work included film scores and ballets with vocalists such as Lata Mangeshkar, played harmonium and tabla tarang.[nb 1] Shivkumar Sharma contributed on santoor, and bansuris (flutes) were played by S.R. Kenkare and Hariprasad Chaurasia, although the latter does not appear in the album credits.[nb 2]
Barham contributed substantially to the London sessions, playing piano, harmonium and flugelhorn, and providing orchestral arrangements for flutes, oboes and trumpet. The main participants on Wonderwall Music 's more rock-oriented pieces were the Remo Four, a Liverpool instrumental group comprising Colin Manley (guitars), Tony Ashton (keyboards), Phillip Rogers (bass) and Roy Dyke (drums). Spizer writes that Harrison played piano, guitar and Mellotron on the album. In addition, according to Manley, Harrison provided the steel guitar part on "Cowboy Music", even though Manley is credited on the album sleeve. As well as his contributions on tack (or jangle) piano and organ, Ashton played the majority of the Mellotron parts on the album.
Other contributors included Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton, on the track "Ski-ing", and Peter Tork of the Monkees, who played banjo. Credited only on the US release, under the pseudonym "Eddie Clayton", Clapton's appearance marked the first of several collaborations between him and Harrison over 1968–70. Also participating were Dutch designers the Fool – Simon Posthuma, Marijke Koger and Josje Leeger – who created the psychedelic-themed sets for Massot's film.[nb 3] Tommy Reilly, well known for his theme tune to BBC television's Dixon of Dock Green, came to the sessions after Harrison had asked George Martin to suggest a harmonica player.
According to Madinger and Easter, in addition to most of what appears on the album, the Wonderwall film contained nineteen of Harrison's "musical cues and tracks ... ranging anywhere from ten seconds to a couple of minutes in length" that were omitted from the soundtrack album. The nineteen selections that do appear on Wonderwall Music range from just over a minute to five-and-a-half minutes' duration. On some copies of the original vinyl LP, various pieces lacked mastering rills between them, such that, with these selections instead presented as medleys, the number of distinct album tracks was reduced to twelve. On many of the Indian selections, instruments such as sitar, surbahar and harmonium provide a drone-like backing, over which Harrison's chosen instrument plays the main musical theme.
The album opens with "Microbes", which consists of call-and-response shehnai parts. "Red Lady Too" has Western instrumentation from the Remo Four and includes what Everett describes as "'Moonlight' Sonata-like suspensions on piano, honky-tonk piano, Mellotron, and drums". On "Tabla and Pakavaj", Mahapurush Misra plays the two types of hand drums named in the title, both mainstays of Hindustani classical music. "In the Park" features Sharma's santoor alternating solos with surbahar. Neither of these last two tracks appear in the film.
Lavezzoli recognises "Harrison's dry humor" in "the honky-tonk, piano-driven" "Drilling a Home", which is subject to dramatic changing of pitch, from the key of G up to B♭, through the tape being sped up. In the film, only the portion up to the sound of a rainstorm is used. The ragtime feel of the track is accentuated by instrumentation such as tack piano, horns and banjo, the last of which Spizer credits as having been played by Tork. Author Ian Inglis writes of the effectiveness of "Drilling a Home": "its jangle piano instantly recreates the mood of a crowded saloon in a frontier town, or a Laurel and Hardy or Keystone Cops pursuit." The track segues into "Guru Vandana", another Bombay-recorded piece featuring doubled shehnai, followed by "Greasy Legs", which consists of harmonium and various Mellotron parts.
On "Ski-ing", Clapton plays what Spizer describes as "a bluesy fuzz-tone [guitar] riff", over a heavy tambura drone. While Spizer and Everett credit all four electric guitar parts (two of which were taped backwards) to Clapton alone, the latter has said that "we put down this thing [on tape] and George then put backwards guitar on it." The seagull-like sounds of the guitars segue into "Gat Kirwani". Recorded in London, the latter is a fast-paced Indian piece featuring Aashish Khan on sarod, backed by sitar and tabla.
"Dream Scene" is a combination of segments taped in London and Bombay that Harrison then edited together. The song consists of three distinct pieces, the first of which is a meditative section featuring phase-shifted instrumentation such as tabla tarang, swarmandal and santoor, and singing that Leng describes as "hauntingly fragile male and female Indian voices in a love duet". The music is delivered via backwards-played tape loops as the vocals pan from one side to the other across the stereo image. This opening section then gives way to "a charging John Barham piano vamp answered by a host of flutes", Leng continues.[nb 4] In what Leng terms an "abrupt white noise nightmare", a trumpet solo marks the start of the third portion of "Dream Scene", after which dual harmonica parts are interspersed with a police siren and more backwards tape loops, and the song fades out with a slowed-down spoken voice over the sound of church bells. Leng notes that "Dream Scene" was recorded several months before Lennon's experimental sound collage "Revolution 9", released on the double album The Beatles.[nb 5]
"Party Seacombe" is a rock tune featuring an accompaniment that is similar in style to that of the band Pink Floyd, and the song equally recalls the Beatles' instrumental "Flying". Recorded with the Remo Four, it includes wah-effected lead guitars, one of which resembles the sound of a human voice, according to Clayson; phase-shifted treatment on the acoustic rhythm guitar; and additional drums and percussion, possibly played by Starr. Writing for NME Originals in 2005, Adrian Thrills described the track as "Whimsical '60s psychedelia from George's experimental dabblings".
The two Indian pieces "Love Scene" and "Crying" form another medley, with the first track featuring Khan's call-and-response sarod parts. Overdubbing was unprecedented in Indian music until this time, and Khan later said he was "thrilled" with the result on "Love Scene", where the sarods "[play] to each other like two lovers in a romantic mood". Described by Madinger and Easter as "aptly titled", "Crying" features the mournful tones of an esraj, according to Leng, although only the similar-sounding tar shehnai is listed in the album credits. In 1981, Harrison used part of this recording of "Crying" at the end of "Save the World", the closing song on his album Somewhere in England.
The country-styled "Cowboy Music" includes backing by the Remo Four, Reilly on harmonica, and harmonium by either Barham or Harrison, according to Spizer. "Fantasy Sequins" begins with the same bow-played string instrument as on "Crying", soon joined by harmonium (played by Desad) and Indian percussion. This track segues into "On the Bed", although Madinger and Easter write that the correct title, as on early US copies of the album, should be "Glass Box", which is the name given instead to the Indian piece that follows it.[nb 6] "On the Bed" opens with a piano riff from Harrison, which, in Leng's description, is complemented by "spacey steel guitar, and a fugue of flugelhorn countermelodies, added by Barham". The song includes backing from the Remo Four, and Big Jim Sullivan on bass.
"Glass Box" is "a high-speed Indian raga", Spizer writes, and features sitarist Indril Bhattacharya. Everett describes "Wonderwall to Be Here" as a tune "based on a minor-mode I-♭VII-♭VI-V progression, styled like Liberacian variations on 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps'". Recorded in London, the song features, in Leng's words, "a short stream-of-consciousness piano melody from Tony Ashton", supported by instrumentation such as organ, acoustic guitar, drums and percussion. Leng views the piece as the soundtrack's "best collective work", adding: "This moving music was a close fit with the scene it covered – a mute passage in which the implied lust of the aging academic turns to compassion for Jane Birkin['s character], whose suicide attempt he witnesses ... Harrison's melody was strongly empathetic to the first appearance of human feeling in the film."
The album closes with "Singing Om", in which a male Indian voice chants the sacred term Om over a musical backing of harmonium and bansuri. Leng writes that this piece is an early example of Harrison blending "Vedic chants with Western harmonies", a concept that he would explore further in his 1969–70 productions for devotees of the Radha Krishna Temple, and also in his post-Beatles songs such as "My Sweet Lord" and "Awaiting on You All".
Film premiere and aftermath
Harrison attended the world premiere of Wonderwall, held at the Cannes Film Festival on 17 May 1968, accompanied by his wife Pattie Boyd, Starr and Birkin. Although he had expected the film's producers to purchase the soundtrack rights and issue the album independently, they declined to do so, leading Massot to suggest that Harrison release it on the Beatles' new label, Apple Records. Wonderwall Music therefore became Apple's first album release, as well as the first solo album by a member of the Beatles.
Massot was impressed with "the accuracy with which [Harrison's music] illustrated and enhanced the images on screen", Inglis writes, and asked Harrison to provide the soundtrack for the next film he planned to make, Zachariah, a western with Ginger Baker in the title role.[nb 7] Although Harrison declined, he later supplied incidental music for Little Malcolm (1974), a film he produced under the aegis of Apple Films, before going on to contribute to soundtracks for his HandMade Films productions in the 1980s, including Time Bandits and Shanghai Surprise.
Author Robert Rodriguez writes that scoring the Wonderwall film "got the [Indian music] genre out of Harrison's system". After taking part in filming for the Shankar documentary Raga in June 1968, Harrison decided to abandon his sitar studies and return to his first instrument, the guitar. As another legacy of the Wonderwall soundtrack project, Harrison cited the Bombay sessions as the inspiration for his 1974 collaborations with Shankar – namely, the Music Festival from India and their subsequent North American tour – both of which featured Indian musicians Harrison first worked with in January 1968.
For the front cover of Wonderwall Music, American artist Bob Gill painted a picture in the style of Belgian surrealist René Magritte. The painting shows a formally dressed man "separated by a huge red brick wall from a group of happy bathing Indian maidens", Spizer writes. Apple executive Derek Taylor, whom Harrison had invited to help run the Beatles' label in early 1968, later recalled of Gill's submission: "It was a nice painting but missed the essence of hope." To Gill's chagrin, Harrison requested that a brick be removed from the wall, because he deemed it important to "give the fellow on the other side a chance, just as the Jack MacGowran character had a chance [in the film]".
For the back cover, Harrison chose a photo of part of the Berlin Wall, which designers John Kelly and Alan Aldridge then manipulated and mirrored to represent a corner. Taylor describes the result as innovative for its time, with the wall made to look "proud and sharp as the prow of a liner".
The sleeve was designed so that the rear face appeared upside down relative to the front. In America, some copies of the LP had the Berlin Wall image mistakenly printed on the front, which made for "a less than exciting cover to be sure", in Madinger and Easter's opinion. Included on the LP's sleeve insert was a black-and-white photograph of Harrison taken by Astrid Kirchherr, a friend since the Beatles' first residency in Hamburg, Germany, in 1960.
Apple Records originally scheduled the release for late August 1968 to coincide with the label's launch, marked by its "First Four" singles.[nb 8] As a result, parts of "Ski-ing", "Cowboy Music" and "Wonderwall to Be Here" were included in Apple, a film designed to promote the new label at distributor EMI's international sales conferences. Delayed from this scheduled date, Wonderwall Music instead appeared in November, a few weeks before The Beatles. The release date was 1 November 1968 in Britain (with Apple catalogue number SAPCOR 1) and 2 December in America (as Apple ST 3350).
Promotion for Wonderwall Music consisted of print advertising, including a full-page advertisement in the 14 December issue of Billboard magazine, and an Apple-prepared poster that superimposed details from Gill's painting onto a photo of Harrison. The album failed to chart in the United Kingdom, but performed surprisingly well in the United States for a non-vocal soundtrack album. On Billboard 's albums listings, it had a sixteen-week chart run, peaking at number 49 for two weeks in March 1969. On the US Cash Box and Record World charts, the album peaked at numbers 39 and 33, respectively. Wonderwall Music also placed in the top 30 on Canada's RPM albums chart and in Germany, where it peaked at number 22.
Having been out of print since the 1970s, Wonderwall Music was remastered and issued on CD in June 1992, as part of Apple's campaign to reissue its entire catalogue. The CD booklet contained liner notes by Taylor, as well as stills from Wonderwall and a photo of Harrison working with some of the Indian musicians in 1968.
In November 1997, Massot prepared a director's cut of Wonderwall, which omitted many of the musical cues that had appeared in the original film but not on the soundtrack album, and instead repeated tracks such as "Ski-ing" and "Cowboy Music" at different points in the film. Harrison supplied Massot with a tape containing various pieces recorded for Wonderwall, which led to the unearthing of the Remo Four's song "In the First Place". A Manley–Ashton composition, it was released as a single in January 1999 with Harrison credited as producer, after Massot had incorporated the song into his new audio for the film. Harrison had played on the recording, but according to an article by Martin Lewis, he eschewed any credit as a performer.
Portions of "Ski-ing" and "Party Seacombe" appear in Martin Scorsese's 2011 documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World, during which Clapton and Birkin discuss their participation in the project. In March 2014, Harrison's full soundtrack for the film was made available on DVD as part of the two-disc Wonderwall Collector's Edition.
The album was remastered again and reissued in September 2014, as part of the Harrison box set The Apple Years 1968–75. The CD booklet includes a liner-note essay by author Kevin Howlett and an introduction by Indian composer Nitin Sawhney. As bonus tracks, the reissue adds the previously unreleased Indian piece "Almost Shankara", an alternate instrumental take of "The Inner Light", and "In the First Place" by the Remo Four".
While the album received little attention from music critics on release, as an instrumental film soundtrack, Alan Clayson writes of Films and Filming giving it a "glowing review". In the March 1969 issue of that magazine, Gordon Gow wrote: "the Harrison music replaces dialogue, waxing almost vocal like a cinema organist from the silent days."
Later in 1969, Village Voice critic Robert Christgau referred to Harrison's soundtrack in a single-sentence review for Frank Zappa's Hot Rats album, saying: "Doo-doo to you, Frank – when I want movie music I'll listen to 'Wonderwall.'" In their 1975 book The Beatles: An Illustrated Record, NME journalists Roy Carr and Tony Tyler dismissed Wonderwall Music as an "undistinguished film muzak sampler" on which "real music manages to surface" only on the Bombay-recorded pieces. Carr and Tyler continued: "but these have little to do with Harrison and it is the [Indian] musicians' own excellence which salvages the general disorganisation of the LP."
In the 1980s, Harrison was dismissive of the Western music on the album, calling it "loads of horrible mellotron stuff and a police siren". American film-score composer Quincy Jones once described Wonderwall Music as "the greatest soundtrack he had heard", according to Massot's recollection to BBC Radio presenter Spencer Leigh.
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
In his review for AllMusic, Richard Ginell writes of the album: "With the subcontinental influence now firmly in the driver's seat, the score is mostly given over to the solemn, atmospheric drones of Indian music. Yet, as a whole, it's a fascinating if musically slender mishmash of sounds from East and West, everything casually juxtaposed or superimposed without a care in the world ... As this and Harrison's second experimental release, Electronic Sound, undoubtedly proved, pigeonholing this Beatle was a dangerous thing." Musician magazine said of the 1992 CD release: "Of all the Beatles-related esoterica, this 1968 soundtrack album is one of the choicest treasures … a freewheeling tapestry of music and sound … [and] a pastiche-like head trip with a mind all its own." Billboard 's reviewer rated it a "Vital Reissue" (signifying a re-release or compilation that merits "special artistic, archival, and commercial interest") and described the album as, variously, an "often enchanting sequence of 19 harmonious themes and tone poems" and an "intriguing treat from the reflective former Fab".
Writing for Rolling Stone magazine in 2002, Mikal Gilmore described Wonderwall Music as "a soundtrack to a rarely seen film, though Harrison's music was inventive and the album remains among his best works". In the 2004 edition of The Rolling Stone Album Guide, editor Mac Randall gave the release 2½ stars (out of five) and grouped it with Electronic Sound as being "interesting, though only for established fans".
In January 2012, Bryan Bierman of Magnet featured Wonderwall Music in the magazine's "Hidden Gems" series, lamenting that "the album has become an obscure piece of Beatles trivia instead of what it is: a fascinating experiment from one of popular music’s most interesting figures." Bierman comments on the context of its 1967–68 creation: "At a time when rock 'n' roll was changing on a daily basis, the Beatles were at the front, leading everyone into strange, uncharted depths. But with Wonderwall Music, Harrison began to venture on his own, creating fresh and unique sounds …"
Among Beatles biographers, Madinger and Easter write that "the intermingling of the two styles [on Wonderwall Music] made for an extremely interesting listening experience", while Peter Lavezzoli describes the album as "a charming potpourri of Indian and Western sounds". In The Rough Guide to the Beatles, Chris Ingham deems it an "attractive sequence of Indian and pop vignettes" that "has endured rather better than the movie itself". Robert Rodriguez writes that "the range explored even within the Western cues was astonishing", and adds: "The Indian cuts too were quite varied stylistically, showing open-minded listeners that there was more to the country's music than twanging sitars and thumping tablas."
Simon Leng considers Wonderwall Music to be "a companion in spirit" to Bill Evans' Conversations with Myself (1963), due to the double-tracking of lead instruments on some of the Indian pieces; he comments on the significance of Harrison recording in India in January 1968, with regard to his bandmates Lennon and Paul McCartney: "There were now three Beatles who held firm artistic visions. The group was unraveling in earnest." Leng praises "Dream Scene" in particular, describing it as a "musical acid trip" that "rivals anything on Sgt. Pepper for sheer freak-out effect".
Ian Inglis views Wonderwall Music as "an assured and varied collection of music that ... perfectly complemented the juxtaposition of the exotic and the ordinary that Massot's film depicted". Among the selections he highlights as transcending their soundtrack role, Inglis describes "Microbes" as "a beautiful example of Harrison's ability to create forlorn, mournful, yearning soundscapes" and "Greasy Legs" as "a delicate and charming composition". Inglis concludes of Harrison's debut solo album: "it provides a fascinating summary of the myriad patterns of musical activity whose fusions stimulated the growth of psychedelic, underground, and progressive scenes in the late 1960s, and it is a key moment in the development of his preparations for life after the Beatles."
Reviewing the Apple Years remaster for Paste magazine, Robert Ham notes "a few moments of psychedelic pop" among the album's Western tracks and writes of the Indian selections: "The performances by the sitar, shehnai and tabla players are lovely enough, but far too short to really convey the music's hypnotic power." Joe Marchese of The Second Disc describes Wonderwall Music as "a particularly enjoyable listen" in which "spacey mellotron, rollicking piano, sound effects, tape loops, and even rock textures" create "a beguiling tapestry of sound", while opining that "the authentic Indian music stands out most on this hypnotic and entertaining mélange."
In a review for Uncut, Richard Williams writes that "the 18 tracks sound like an exploded diagram of a Beatles album", which includes "[d]reamy miniature ragas", "a pub knees-up gatecrashed by a Dixieland band ('Drilling A Home')" and "the bones of early acid-rock songs". Williams concludes: "[Wonderwall Music] documents an innocent optimism that will always be worth a listen". Writing for the website Elsewhere, New Zealand Herald critic Graham Reid considers "Dream Scene" to be "by far the most psychedelic and out-there piece by any Beatle to that time", adding that "towards the end you can almost anticipate Lennon's Revolution 9 coming in." Reid describes the album as, variously, "peculiar and terrific" and "one of the most interesting and courageously different of [Harrison's] solo albums".
Cultural influence and legacy
Leng credits Wonderwall Music with having established Harrison as "a pioneer in fusing global music", and Madinger and Easter similarly describe the album as "an early example of what would eventually become known as 'World Music': the mixing of Western music with other types from around the globe". In his book The Dawn of Indian Music in the West, Lavezzoli considers Harrison a principal figure in the introduction of Indian music to Western audiences, along with Yehudi Menuhin and John Coltrane, and groups him with Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and Mickey Hart as the rock musicians most responsible for popularising world music. Writing for Mojo magazine in 2011, Michael Simmons described Wonderwall Music as a "groundbreaking blend of Bombay and London", while Kevin Howlett comments in his 2014 liner-note essay that Harrison's decision to "travel to the source" and professionally record non-Western music was "unprecedented for a pop musician".
Clayson writes of the album's influence on mid-1990s Britpop acts such as Oasis, Supergrass and Ocean Colour Scene. Of these bands, Oasis took the title of their international hit "Wonderwall" from that of Harrison's album. Like Clayson, Ingham sees the most obvious example of Wonderwall Music 's legacy in the raga rock sound of Kula Shaker, who also adopted lyrical influences from Harrison's work. The band's 1996 single "Govinda" was a cover of a Harrison-produced song by the Radha Krishna Temple, and its B-side, "Gokula", used an identical guitar riff to the one on "Ski-ing", resulting in a co-writing credit for Harrison.
All songs by George Harrison, except where noted.
- Side one
- "Microbes" – 3:42
- "Red Lady Too" – 1:56
- "Tabla and Pakavaj" – 1:05
- "In the Park" – 4:08
- "Drilling a Home" – 3:08
- "Guru Vandana" – 1:05
- "Greasy Legs" – 1:28
- "Ski-ing" – 1:50
- "Gat Kirwani" – 1:15
- "Dream Scene" – 5:26
- Side two
- "Party Seacombe" – 4:34
- "Love Scene" – 4:17
- "Crying" – 1:15
- "Cowboy Music" – 1:29
- "Fantasy Sequins" – 1:50
- "On the Bed" – 2:22
- "Glass Box" – 1:05
- "Wonderwall to Be Here" – 1:25
- "Singing Om" – 1:54
- 2014 reissue bonus tracks
- "In the First Place" (Colin Manley, Tony Ashton; performed by the Remo Four) – 3:17
- "Almost Shankara" – 5:00
- "The Inner Light" (alternative take, instrumental) – 3:43
- A melodic percussion instrument, the tabla tarang consists of between ten and sixteen individually tuned hand drums, specifically the tabla's treble-variety dayan, which are set in a semicircle around the player.
- According to Lavezzoli, it is Chaurasia who plays the flute part on "The Inner Light".
- The Beatles' preferred designers during 1967–68, the Fool had recently painted a mural on the outside wall of the band's new retail venture, Apple Boutique, in Baker Street, London.
- The flutes and reed instruments were played by the Fool, according to Everett.
- Madinger and Easter similarly comment that Harrison's contribution to "Revolution 9" "may have been understated in retrospect after listening to this".
- Madinger and Easter note that after viewing the film, it becomes "very apparent what the title of each track should be", given the context in which the two songs appear. Although the order was correct on US copies, the latter mis-titled "Cowboy Music" as "Cowboy Museum" in the track listing.
- While visiting the Band in Woodstock, New York, late in 1968, according to Levon Helm, Harrison discussed making Zachariah as an Apple Film with Bob Dylan and the Band in starring roles. The film was eventually made by director George Englund and released in 1970.
- In addition to "Hey Jude" by the Beatles, these four singles included Jackie Lomax's debut, "Sour Milk Sea", written and produced by Harrison.
- Greene, p. 91.
- Inglis, pp. 16, 17.
- Ingham, p. 55.
- Leng, p. 47.
- MacDonald, pp. 209, 236, 240.
- Clayson, p. 234.
- Spizer, p. 206.
- Bill Harry, "Wonderwall", sixtiescity.net/Mersey Beat (retrieved 16 July 2014).
- Lavezzoli, p. 182.
- Alan Clayson, "Off the Wall", in Mojo: The Beatles' Final Years, p. 50.
- Huntley, p. 31.
- Leng, p. 48.
- George Harrison, in The Beatles, p. 280.
- MacDonald, pp. 164, 172, 194, 215.
- Lavezzoli, pp. 175, 178, 182, 183.
- Lavezzoli, p. 32.
- Collaborations, p. 47.
- Leng, pp. 26, 49.
- Lavezzoli, pp. 32–33.
- Leng, p. 49.
- Inglis, p. 17.
- Leng, pp. 49–50.
- Leng, pp. 26, 27, 49–50.
- Castleman & Podrazik, p. 69.
- Richie Unterberger, "The Beatles Yellow Submarine", AllMusic (retrieved 24 July 2014).
- The Editors of Rolling Stone, p. 174.
- Leng, pp. 32, 50.
- Derek Taylor's liner notes, Wonderwall Music CD (Apple Records/EMI, 1992; produced by George Harrison).
- Everett, p. 151.
- Miles, p. 283.
- Madinger & Easter, p. 419.
- Ingham, p. 154.
- Clayson, p. 235.
- Madinger & Easter, p. 421.
- Miles, p. 291.
- Madinger & Eater, pp. 419–20.
- Madinger & Easter, p. 420.
- Mark Paytress, "A Passage to India", in Mojo: The Beatles' Final Years, p. 12.
- Miles, p. 293.
- Rodriguez, p. 9.
- Lavezzoli, pp. 183–84.
- "Timeline: Jan 1–Feb 3, 1968", in Mojo: The Beatles' Final Years, p. 19.
- MacDonald, pp. 240–41.
- Richie Unterberger, "The Remo Four 'In the First Place'", AllMusic (retrieved 26 June 2014).
- Martin Lewis, "The Story of 'In the First Place'", Abbeyrd's Beatle Page (retrieved 29 June 2014).
- Madinger & Easter, pp. 420, 421, 422.
- Spizer, pp. 206–07.
- Castleman & Podrazik, p. 198.
- "Album notes", Wonderwall Music LP (Apple ST 3350, 1968; produced by George Harrison).
- Leng, pp. 48fn, 49–50.
- Album credits, Wonderwall Music CD (Apple Records, 2014; produced by George Harrison).
- MacDonald, pp. 172, 215.
- Lavezzoli, pp. 176, 178.
- Lavezzoli, pp. 66, 182.
- Leng, p. 34fn.
- Liner note essay by Kevin Howlett, Wonderwall Music CD (Apple Records, 2014; produced by George Harrison).
- Clayson, pp. 206, 235.
- Leng, pp. 25–26, 48.
- Telegram to Shambu Das, in The Beatles, p. 280.
- Collaborations, p. 44.
- Lavezzoli, pp. 3, 24.
- Gabriele Stiller-Kern, "Kamalesh Maitra: The last master of tabla taranga", culturebase.net, 2007 (retrieved 14 July 2014).
- MacDonald, p. 240.
- Lavezzoli, p. 183.
- Spizer, pp. 206, 207.
- Clayson, pp. 82, 235.
- Spizer, p. 207.
- Rodriguez, pp. 9, 71.
- Rodriguez, p. 71.
- Everett, pp. 152, 305–06.
- Everett, pp. 145, 151, 307.
- Clayson, pp. 211, 238.
- MacDonald, p. 238fn.
- Doggett, p. 30.
- Madinger & Easter, pp. 420, 421.
- Richard S. Ginell, "George Harrison Wonderwall Music", AllMusic (retrieved 15 July 2014).
- Lavezzoli, pp. 26, 182.
- World Music: The Rough Guide, p. 73.
- Lavezzoli, pp. 36–37, 182.
- Everett, pp. 151–52.
- Eric Clapton interview, in George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Disc 1; event occurs between 1.21.06 and 1.21.19.
- Everett, p. 152.
- Eric Clapton interview, in George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Disc 1; event occurs between 1.21.12 and 1.21.16.
- Leng, p. 50.
- Inglis, p. 18.
- Chris Hunt (ed.), NME Originals: Beatles – The Solo Years 1970–1980, IPC Ignite! (London, 2005), p. 23.
- World Music: The Rough Guide, pp. 69, 73, 78.
- Leng, pp. 49, 226.
- Leng, p. 226.
- Madinger & Easter, p. 422.
- Allison, p. 122.
- Allison, pp. 122, 143, 144.
- Miles, p. 298.
- "Timeline: May 16–June 19, 1968", in Mojo: The Beatles' Final Years, p. 32.
- Spizer, pp. 205, 206.
- Clayson, p. 275.
- Leng, pp. 51–52.
- Helm, p. 178.
- Clarke Fountain, "Zachariah (1970)", AllMovie (retrieved 11 July 2014).
- Simmons, p. 85.
- Badman, pp. 90, 150.
- Inglis, pp. 83, 86.
- Miles, p. 300.
- Lavezzoli, pp. 184–85.
- Leng, p. 36.
- Harrison, p. 302.
- Lavezzoli, pp. 195–96.
- Leng, p. 48fn.
- Spizer, pp. 205, 207.
- Doggett, p. 31.
- Clayson, pp. 76–77, 238.
- Spizer, p. 205.
- Schaffner, pp. 110–11.
- Miles, p. 307.
- Schaffner, p. 110.
- Castleman & Podrazik, p. 68.
- Apple trade ad, Billboard, 14 December 1968, p. 17.
- Spizer, pp. 204, 205.
- Schaffner, p. 133.
- "George Harrison: Awards" > Billboard Albums, AllMusic (retrieved 26 June 2014).
- Castleman & Podrazik, p. 360.
- "RPM Top 50 Albums, 24 February 1969", Library and Archives Canada (retrieved 11 July 2014).
- "Album – George Harrison, Wonderwall Music", charts.de (retrieved 11 July 2014).
- Schaffner, pp. 111, 212.
- Madinger & Easter, pp. 420, 633.
- Badman, p. 481.
- Madinger & Easter, pp. 420, 422.
- Bill Harry, "Colin Manley", triumphpc.com/Mersey Beat (retrieved 30 June 2014).
- End credits, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Disc 2.
- Eric Clapton and Jane Birkin interviews, in George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Disc 1; event occurs between 1.20.46 and 1.22.37.
- "Collector's Edition of 'Wonderwall,' 1968 Film Scored by George Harrison, to Be Released on DVD & Blu-ray", ABC News Radio, 17 February 2014 (retrieved 18 July 2014).
- Glenn Erickson, "Savant Blu-ray Review: Wonderwall", DVDtalk.com, 2 April 2014 (retrieved 19 July 2014).
- Joe Marchese, "Review: The George Harrison Remasters – 'The Apple Years 1968–1975'", The Second Disc, 23 September 2014 (retrieved 1 October 2014).
- "Announcing The Apple Years 1968–75 Box set – Released 22nd September", georgeharrison.com, 2 September 2014 (retrieved 29 September 2014).
- Kory Grow, "George Harrison's First Six Studio Albums to Get Lavish Reissues", rollingstone.com, 2 September 2014 (retrieved 30 September 2014).
- Joe Marchese, "Give Me Love: George Harrison’s 'Apple Years' Are Collected On New Box Set", The Second Disc, 2 September 2014 (retrieved 30 September 2014).
- Ingham, p. 63.
- Clayson, pp. 235, 477.
- Robert Christgau, "Consumer Guide Reviews: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention (extended)", robertchristgau.com (retrieved 15 July 2014).
- Carr & Tyler, p. 73.
- Clayson, pp. 234–35.
- Spencer Leigh, "Talking George Harrison", britishbeatlesfanclub.co.uk, 29 December 2011 (retrieved 15 July 2014).
- Melinda Newman, Chris Morris & Edward Morris (eds), "Album Reviews", Billboard, 18 July 1992, p. 48 (retrieved 20 November 2014).
- John Harris, "Beware of Darkness", Mojo, November 2011, p. 82.
- Graff & Durchholz, p. 529.
- "Review: George Harrison Wonderwall Music CD", Musician, December 1992, p. 98.
- Randall, Brackett & Hoard, p. 367.
- The Editors of Rolling Stone, p. 39.
- Bryan Bierman, "Hidden Gems: George Harrison's 'Wonderwall Music'", Magnet, 5 January 2012 (retrieved 16 November 2014).
- Ingham, p. 162.
- Leng, pp. 33, 49.
- Robert Ham, "George Harrison: The Apple Years: 1968–1975 Review", Paste, 24 September 2014 (retrieved 1 October 2014).
- Richard Williams, "George Harrison The Apple Years 1968–75", Uncut, November 2014, p. 93.
- Graham Reid, "George Harrison Revisited, Part One (2014): The dark horse bolting out of the gate", Elsewhere, 24 October 2014 (retrieved 8 December 2014).
- Leng, p. 51.
- Lavezzoli, pp. 81, 172–73.
- Simmons, p. 80.
- Clayson, pp. 438–39.
- Bennett & Stratton, pp. 118, 146.
- Michael Gallucci, "George Harrison, 'The Apple Years 1968–75' – Album Review", Ultimate Classic Rock, 19 September 2014 (retrieved 1 October 2014).
- Clayson, p. 439.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, "Kula Shaker", AllMusic (retrieved 19 July 2014).
- Tracey Pepper, "K (1996), Kula Shaker", Entertainment Weekly, 25 October 1996 (retrieved 18 November 2014).
- B-side label credits, "Govinda" single (Columbia Records, 1996; produced by Shep & Dodge).
- Dale C. Allison Jr., The Love There That's Sleeping: The Art and Spirituality of George Harrison, Continuum (New York, NY, 2006; ISBN 978-0-8264-1917-0).
- Keith Badman, The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After the Break-Up 1970–2001, Omnibus Press (London, 2001; ISBN 0-7119-8307-0).
- The Beatles, The Beatles Anthology, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA, 2000; ISBN 0-8118-2684-8).
- Andy Bennett & Jon Stratton (eds), Britpop and the English Music Tradition (rev. edn), Ashgate Publishing (Farnham, UK, 2013; ISBN 978-1-4094-9407-2).
- Roy Carr & Tony Tyler, The Beatles: An Illustrated Record, Trewin Copplestone Publishing (London, 1978; ISBN 0-450-04170-0).
- Harry Castleman & Walter J. Podrazik, All Together Now: The First Complete Beatles Discography 1961–1975, Ballantine Books (New York, NY, 1976; ISBN 0-345-25680-8).
- Alan Clayson, George Harrison, Sanctuary (London, 2003; ISBN 1-86074-489-3).
- Collaborations, book accompanying Collaborations box set by Ravi Shankar and George Harrison (Dark Horse Records, 2010; produced by Olivia Harrison; package design by Drew Lorimer & Olivia Harrison).
- Peter Doggett, You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup, It Books (New York, NY, 2011; ISBN 978-0-06-177418-8).
- The Editors of Rolling Stone, Harrison, Rolling Stone Press/Simon & Schuster (New York, NY, 2002; ISBN 0-7432-3581-9).
- Walter Everett, The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver Through the Anthology, Oxford University Press (New York, NY, 1999; ISBN 0-19-509553-7).
- George Harrison: Living in the Material World DVD (Village Roadshow, 2011; directed by Martin Scorsese; produced by Olivia Harrison, Nigel Sinclair, Martin Scorsese).
- Gary Graff & Daniel Durchholz (eds), MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, Visible Ink Press (Farmington Hills, MI, 1999; ISBN 1-57859-061-2).
- Joshua M. Greene, Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison, John Wiley & Sons (Hoboken, NJ, 2006; ISBN 978-0-470-12780-3).
- Olivia Harrison, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Abrams (New York, NY, 2011; ISBN 978-1-4197-0220-4).
- Levon Helm with Stephen Davis, This Wheel's on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of The Band, A Cappella Books (Chicago, IL, 2000; ISBN 978-1-55652-405-9).
- Elliot J. Huntley, Mystical One: George Harrison – After the Break-up of the Beatles, Guernica Editions (Toronto, ON, 2006; ISBN 1-55071-197-0).
- Chris Ingham, The Rough Guide to the Beatles, Rough Guides/Penguin (London, 2006; 2nd edn; ISBN 978-1-84836-525-4).
- Ian Inglis, The Words and Music of George Harrison, Praeger (Santa Barbara, CA, 2010; ISBN 978-0-313-37532-3).
- Peter Lavezzoli, The Dawn of Indian Music in the West, Continuum (New York, NY, 2006; ISBN 0-8264-2819-3).
- Simon Leng, While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison, Hal Leonard (Milwaukee, WI, 2006; ISBN 1-4234-0609-5).
- Ian MacDonald, Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties, Pimlico (London, 1998; ISBN 0-7126-6697-4).
- Chip Madinger & Mark Easter, Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium, 44.1 Productions (Chesterfield, MO, 2000; ISBN 0-615-11724-4).
- Barry Miles, The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years, Omnibus Press (London, 2001; ISBN 0-7119-8308-9).
- Mojo: The Beatles' Final Years Special Edition, Emap (London, 2003).
- Mac Randall, Nathan Brackett & Christian Hoard (eds), The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th edn), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY, 2004; ISBN 0-7432-0169-8).
- Robert Rodriguez, Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles' Solo Years, 1970–1980, Backbeat Books (Milwaukee, WI, 2010; ISBN 978-1-4165-9093-4).
- Nicholas Schaffner, The Beatles Forever, McGraw-Hill (New York, NY, 1978; ISBN 0-07-055087-5).
- Michael Simmons, "Cry for a Shadow", Mojo, November 2011.
- Bruce Spizer, The Beatles Solo on Apple Records, 498 Productions (New Orleans, LA, 2005; ISBN 0-9662649-5-9).
- World Music: The Rough Guide (Volume 2: Latin and North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific), Rough Guides/Penguin (London, 2000; ISBN 1-85828-636-0).