Electronic Sound

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Electronic Sound
Electronic Sound (George Harrison album - cover art).jpg
Studio album by George Harrison
Released 9 May 1969
Recorded November 1968; February 1969
Studio Sound Recorders Studio, Los Angeles; Kinfauns (Harrison's home), Surrey
Genre Avant-garde,[1][2] electronic music[3]
Length 43:50
Label Zapple
Producer George Harrison
George Harrison chronology
Wonderwall Music
(1968)
Electronic Sound
(1969)
All Things Must Pass
(1970)

Electronic Sound is the second studio album by George Harrison. Originally released in 1969, it was the second and final record released on the Beatles' short-lived Zapple record label, a subsidiary of Apple Records. The album comprises two lengthy pieces performed on the Moog synthesizer. Harrison subsequently introduced the instrument to the Beatles' sound; the band featured synthesizer for the first time on their 1969 album Abbey Road.

The first digital edition of Electronic Sound appeared on CD in 1996. Digital editions use a different track order from some of the original vinyl LP copies.

History[edit]

Zapple was intended as a creative outlet for avant-garde musical works. The music on Electronic Sound, consisting of two extended instrumental pieces – "Under the Mersey Wall" and "No Time or Space" – was performed on a Moog IIIc modular system. Harrison bought the system directly from Robert Moog and later had it set up at EMI Studios in London for the Beatles to use on their recordings.

According to the album's liner notes, "No Time or Space" was recorded "in California in November 1968 with the assistance of Bernie Krause".[4] The information for "Under the Mersey Wall" reads: "Recorded at Esher in Merrie England; with the assistance of Rupert and Jostick The Siamese Twins – February 1969."[4] Krause later said that "No Time or Space" (UK LP side two, US LP side one) was essentially a recording of him demonstrating the Moog III to Harrison. Krause also claimed that the demonstration was recorded and released without his knowledge or consent. Krause's name was originally credited on the front cover under Harrison's credit, but it was painted over at Krause's insistence.[5] The words "Assisted by Bernie Krause" can nevertheless still be read under the silver ink on original LP pressings. Portions of white noise from "No Time or Space" are used throughout "I Remember Jeep", a track on Harrison's 1970 triple album, All Things Must Pass.

The cover of Electronic Sound was painted by Harrison himself. The inside sleeve included a quotation attributed to Arthur Wax: "There are a lot of people around, making a lot of noise; here's some more."[6]

Original US LP label for side two of Electronic Sound. (Note the 18-minute timing of this track, which indicates that it is actually the recording that Harrison intended for side one.)

Release[edit]

The album was released on Zapple Records on 9 May 1969 in the UK and on 26 May in the United States.[7][8] In the UK, the album's catalogue number was Zapple 02, indicating it as the second release on the label after John Lennon and Yoko Ono's similarly experimental Life with the Lions.[9] Electronic Sound failed to chart in the United Kingdom, and barely made the US Billboard Top LPs chart, peaking at number 191. As one of the first financial measures initiated by Allen Klein, the new manager of the Beatles' Apple enterprise, the Zapple label was folded soon after the album's release.

On some vinyl versions of Electronic Sound, such as the original US and Canadian pressings, the order of the recordings was accidentally switched, although the titles were not. This mistake has caused many listeners to confuse the two pieces. When the album was issued on CD for the first time in late 1996, the correct UK running order was used.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[3]
MusicHound 1/5[10]
Rolling Stone (mixed)[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2.5/5 stars[12]
Uncut 2/5 stars[13]

In the 2004 Rolling Stone Album Guide, Mac Randall rated the release 2½ stars (out of five) and called the album and its predecessor, Wonderwall Music, "interesting, though only for established fans".[14] Writing for MusicHound, Roger Catlin suggested that Electronic Sound "may interest students of early synthesizer experiments, but nobody else".[10] More impressed, Richard Ginell of AllMusic writes: "Though scoffed at when they were released, these pieces can hold their own and then some with many of those of other, more seriously regarded electronic composers. And when you consider that synthesizers were only capable of playing one note at a time and sounds could not be stored or recalled with the push of a button, the achievement becomes even more remarkable."[3]

Electronic Sound was reissued in remastered CD form on 22 September 2014, as part of the Apple Years 1968–75 Harrison box set.[4] The album was also made available as a high-resolution 24-bit 96 kHz digital download. The synthesizer used on the album is still owned by the Harrison family and is pictured in the centre photo spread of the 2014 CD reissue.

Track listing[edit]

All pieces credited to George Harrison. Note: The following is how the titles appear on UK LP versions, CD editions and digital downloads. US and Canadian LP pressings incorrectly switched the order of the recordings but did not switch the titles.

Side one
  1. "Under the Mersey Wall" – 18:41
Side two
  1. "No Time or Space" – 25:10

References[edit]

  1. ^ Inglis 2010, p. 20.
  2. ^ Badgley, Aaron (24 February 2017). "Spill Album Review: George Harrison – The Vinyl Collection". Spill Magazine. Retrieved 4 March 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c Ginell, Richard S. "George Harrison Electronic Sound". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c "Electronic Sound (2014 Remastered)". George Harrison. Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  5. ^ http://astronautapinguim.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/five-questions-to-bernie-krause.html
  6. ^ Spizer 2005, p. 210.
  7. ^ Castleman & Podrazik 1976, p. 76.
  8. ^ Miles 2001, pp. 343, 344.
  9. ^ Spizer 2005, p. 209.
  10. ^ a b Graff & Durchholz 1999, p. 529.
  11. ^ Ward, Edmund O. (9 August 1969). "Records". Rolling Stone. p. 37. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  12. ^ "George Harrison: Album Guide", rollingstone.com (archived version retrieved 5 August 2014).
  13. ^ Nigel Williamson, "All Things Must Pass: George Harrison's post-Beatles solo albums", Uncut, February 2002, p. 60.
  14. ^ Brackett & Hoard 2004, p. 367.

Sources[edit]

  • The Beatles (2000). The Beatles Anthology. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-2684-6. 
  • Brackett, Nathan; with Hoard, Christian (eds) (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th edn). New York, NY: Fireside/Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  • Castleman, Harry; Podrazik, Walter J. (1976). All Together Now: The First Complete Beatles Discography 1961–1975. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-25680-8. 
  • Clayson, Alan (2003). George Harrison. London: Sanctuary. ISBN 1-86074-489-3. 
  • The Editors of Rolling Stone (2002). Harrison. New York, NY: Rolling Stone Press. ISBN 978-0-7432-3581-5. 
  • Everett, Walter (1999). The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver Through the Anthology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-512941-0. 
  • Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. ISBN 1-57859-061-2. 
  • Harry, Bill (2003). The George Harrison Encyclopedia. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-7535-0822-0. 
  • Ingham, Chris (2006). The Rough Guide to the Beatles (2nd edn). London: Rough Guides/Penguin. ISBN 978-1-84836-525-4. 
  • Inglis, Ian (2010). The Words and Music of George Harrison. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. ISBN 978-0-313-37532-3. 
  • Leng, Simon (2006). While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard. ISBN 978-1-4234-0609-9. 
  • Lewisohn, Mark (2005) [1988]. The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962–1970. London: Bounty Books. ISBN 978-0-7537-2545-0. 
  • MacDonald, Ian (1998). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties. London: Pimlico. ISBN 978-0-7126-6697-8. 
  • Madinger, Chip; Easter, Mark (2000). Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium. Chesterfield, MO: 44.1 Productions. ISBN 0-615-11724-4. 
  • Miles, Barry (2001). The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-8308-9. 
  • Rodriguez, Robert (2010). Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles' Solo Years, 1970–1980. Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-1-4165-9093-4. 
  • Schaffner, Nicholas (1978). The Beatles Forever. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-055087-5. 
  • Spizer, Bruce (2005). The Beatles Solo on Apple Records. New Orleans, LA: 498 Productions. ISBN 0-9662649-5-9. 
  • Womack, Kenneth (2014). The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-39171-2.