George Harrison (album)
|Studio album by|
|Released||20 February 1979|
|Studio||FPSHOT, Oxfordshire; AIR Studios, London|
|Genre||Pop rock, folk pop, soft rock|
|Producer||George Harrison, Russ Titelman|
|George Harrison chronology|
|Singles from George Harrison|
George Harrison is the eighth studio album by English musician George Harrison, released in February 1979. It was written and recorded through much of 1978, a period of domestic contentment for Harrison, during which he married Olivia Trinidad Arias and became a father for the first time, to son Dhani. Harrison wrote several of the songs in Hawaii, while the track "Faster" reflected his year away from music-making, when he and Arias attended many of the races in the 1977 Formula 1 World Championship. The album also includes the hit single "Blow Away" and "Not Guilty", a song that Harrison originally recorded in 1968 for the Beatles' White Album.
Harrison co-produced this solo album with Russ Titelman, while the contributing musicians include Steve Winwood, Neil Larsen, Willie Weeks and Andy Newmark, with Eric Clapton and Gary Wright making guest appearances. The recording sessions took place at Harrison's FPSHOT studio in Oxfordshire.
Issued on Dark Horse Records, George Harrison was warmly received by music critics on release, and commentators regularly cite the album among the artist's best works after All Things Must Pass (1970). The album was remastered in 2004 as part of The Dark Horse Years 1976–1992 reissues.
– George Harrison, 1979
With Harrison's penchant for leisure and travel following Thirty Three & 1/3's release, he had not started recording a follow-up until the spring of 1978, although he had been writing songs during his hiatus. Harrison decided to work with Russ Titelman as co-producer for George Harrison, which was recorded in his home studio at Friar Park, with string overdubs being effected at London's AIR Studios. Special guests included Steve Winwood, Gary Wright (who co-wrote "If You Believe") and Eric Clapton.
Before travelling to Hawaii in early 1978 to write or finish writing songs for the album, Harrison repeatedly listened to his 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass for inspiration. The new album was originally going to be titled Faster after the song of that title, which Harrison wrote as a tribute to his racing-driver friends in Formula 1. In addition to revisiting "Not Guilty", a song he had first recorded with the Beatles in 1968, Harrison wrote "Here Comes the Moon" as a lyrical successor to his 1969 composition "Here Comes the Sun". Another new song, "Soft-Hearted Hana" – the title of which references the Tin Pan Alley standard "Hard Hearted Hannah" – was written about a psychedelic mushroom experience Harrison had on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The recording of this song includes sounds and conversation captured at Harrison's local Henley-on-Thames pub, The Row Barge.
The album was previewed by the single "Blow Away", which reached number 51 in the United Kingdom and number 16 in the United States. George Harrison reached number 39 in the UK and peaked at number 14 in the US, going gold there. "Blow Away" was most successful in Canada, peaking at number 7 on the singles chart. Following the album's release, Harrison's efforts were increasingly directed towards the film industry, after he had formed Handmade Films in order to help his friends in Monty Python complete Life of Brian.
Three of the songs from the eponymous album were included on Harrison's Best of Dark Horse 1976–1989 compilation: "Blow Away", an edited version of "Here Comes the Moon", and the single edit of "Love Comes to Everyone". In 2009, "Blow Away" appeared on the career-spanning compilation Let It Roll: Songs by George Harrison.
In 2004, George Harrison 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 demo version of "Here Comes the Moon".
George Harrison received favourable reviews upon its February 1979 release. In a concurrent interview with Harrison for Rolling Stone, music journalist Mick Brown spoke of the critical reception as being "exceptionally good" in the UK and suggested that the new album was the artist's best since All Things Must Pass, to which Harrison replied: "Well, I hope it does as well as All Things Must Pass. I think this album is very pleasant." Billboard magazine featured George Harrison as its "Spotlight" album (meaning "the most outstanding new product of the week's releases") and highlighted "Love Comes to Everyone", "Here Comes the Moon" and "Not Guilty" among the "best cuts".
Rolling Stone's album reviewer, Stephen Holden, considered it to be "refreshingly light-hearted" and wrote: "After several highly uneven LPs that saw the audience for his mystic musings dwindle dramatically, Harrison has come up with his finest record since All Things Must Pass. A collection of ten catchy pop songs, George Harrison reminds us that this artist was always a much better tunesmith than priest." Writing in Melody Maker, E.J. Thribb said it was an album that "grows in its effect" and highlighted "Love Comes to Everyone", "Blow Away" and "Not Guilty" as songs in which "the chords roll and tumble, the melodies are good to chant, and the lyrics are simple but tell their story." While also approving of Harrison's lightheartedness on the album, Thribb concluded that he had "brought both sunshine and moonshine into our lives". Harry George of the NME likened George Harrison to Bob Dylan's New Morning and Van Morrison's Tupelo Honey and said that Harrison's "guileless romanticism surprisingly carries the album". He recognised "Faster" and "Not Guilty" as examples of Harrison's growth as a songwriter, and identified "melodies of unassuming completeness" in other tracks where "Crafty harmonies and skilfully-layered guitars recall the sun-soaked vistas of [the Beatles]' 'Because' and 'Sun King' on Abbey Road." Less impressed, Smash Hits gave the album a score of 6 out of 10, while People's reviewer found the music "arch-Harrison: lyrically cheery and thematically uplifting" but "so restrained and subdued that the tunes track through a whole side unnoticed and indistinguishable". Robert Christgau was more critical in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), giving it a "C" grade and singling out "Faster" as the record's only good song.
Describing the album's release, author Elliot Huntley writes that its commercial performance was hindered by the fascination with new wave music in Britain, and as a result, "interest in Beatle product was probably at an all time low". In his 1981 book The Beatles Apart, NME critic Bob Woffinden opined: "George Harrison is his most successful album since All Things Must Pass, and would probably have sold in its millions had it arrived at the beginning rather than the end of the decade." Woffinden praised Harrison's songwriting and the "co-production arrangement" with Titelman, before describing the album as "one of the best Beatle solo efforts".
Retrospective assessment and legacy
Following Harrison's death in November 2001, Carol Clerk of Uncut referred to it as the "acclaimed George Harrison album", while Greg Kot's assessment for Rolling Stone that year read in part: "'Here Comes the Moon' is a dreamy little wonder, the kind of incantation that underscores the [album's] romantic subtlety … Harrison is breezingly ingratiating on 'Blow Away' and 'Faster.'" Writing for Goldmine magazine in 2002, Dave Thompson admired it as Harrison's "most natural-sounding album" since All Things Must Pass and an "exquisite" work that reflected changes in the artist's life as profound as those in John Lennon's during the latter's five-year hiatus from recording between 1975 and 1980.
Among reviews of the 2004 reissue, Kit Aiken of Uncut gave George Harrison a rating of four stars out of five, and described it as "a freshly enthused, minor treat – a fulsome acoustic rocker replete with sunshine melodies and gorgeous slide guitar". PopMatters' Jason Korenkiewicz similarly welcomed the reissue, saying that the album's "languid and addictive" mood conveyed Harrison's humour and a "new found sense of calm and peace that speaks through his ever-emotive guitar". Writing in The Rolling Stone Album Guide that same year, Mac Randall highlighted "Not Guilty" and the "understated gem" "Your Love Is Forever" as the album's best songs, but considered that "elsewhere mellowness overwhelms musicality". An unimpressed Richard Ginell of AllMusic gives the album two-and-a-half stars, describing it as "a painstakingly polished L.A.-made product" and "an ordinary album from an extraordinary talent". Ginell writes of the preponderance of "halfhearted songs lurking here, although some are salvaged by a nice instrumental touch", and while he considers "Blow Away" the album's "most attractive" song, he finds Harrison's new reading of "Not Guilty" "an easy listening trifle".
Reviewing Harrison's solo releases for Mojo in 2011, John Harris considered George Harrison to be "millionaire soft-rock to the max" although he recognised "Here Comes the Moon", "Faster" and "Not Guilty" among the album's successful musical statements. In a similar overview of Harrison's solo career, on his website Elsewhere, New Zealand Herald critic Graham Reid wrote that the album "has its moments" and concluded: "He still crafted beautiful melodies but it's a lyrically patchy album and the start of the artistic decline. A sound three stars."
The original LP featured a close-up photograph of Harrison, taken by Mike Salisbury, with the album's name printed in brown in the top right corner. For the 2004 CD-remaster, the same picture was used but with different lettering. The brown title was erased, and Harrison's signature in white was added to the top left corner. Footage from these photo sessions can be seen in Martin Scorsese's 2011 documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World.
All songs written by George Harrison, except where noted.
- Side one
- "Love Comes to Everyone" – 4:36
- "Not Guilty" – 3:35
- "Here Comes the Moon" – 4:48
- "Soft-Hearted Hana" – 4:03
- "Blow Away" – 4:00
- Side two
- "Faster" – 4:46
- "Dark Sweet Lady" – 3:22
- "Your Love Is Forever" – 3:45
- "Soft Touch" – 3:59
- "If You Believe" (Harrison, Gary Wright) – 2:55
- Bonus tracks
For the 2004 digitally remastered issue of George Harrison a bonus track was added:
- "Here Comes the Moon" (demo version) – 3:37
Upon adding Harrison's catalog to iTunes, it was given another bonus track:
- "Blow Away" (demo version) – 3:04
The following personnel are credited in the album's liner notes.
- George Harrison – lead and backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, dobro, mandolin, sitar, bass on "Faster"
- Andy Newmark – drums
- Willie Weeks – bass
- Neil Larsen – Fender Rhodes, piano, Minimoog
- Ray Cooper – percussion
- Steve Winwood – Polymoog, harmonium, backing vocals
- Emil Richards – marimba
- Gayle Levant – harp
- Eric Clapton – guitar intro on "Love Comes to Everyone"
- Gary Wright – Oberheim on "If You Believe"
- Del Newman – string and horn arrangements
Weekly charts (reissue)
|United States (RIAA)||Gold|
- Madinger & Easter, p. 635.
- Inglis, p. 71.
- John Metzger, "George Harrison The Dark Horse Years (Part Two: George Harrison)", The Music Box, vol. 11 (5), May 2004 (retrieved 5 November 2016).
- Madinger & Easter, p. 632.
- Huntley, p. 163.
- Huntley, p. 162.
- Madinger & Easter, p. 457.
- Womack, p. 292.
- Frontani, p. 162.
- Huntley, pp. 163, 169.
- Brown, Mick (19 April 1979). "A Conversation With George Harrison". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
- Ed Harrison (ed.), "Billboard's Top Album Picks", Billboard, 24 February 1979, p. 80 (retrieved 21 November 2014). From the magazine's reviews key: "Spotlight – The most outstanding new product of the week's releases".
- Stephen Holden, "George Harrison: George Harrison", Rolling Stone, 19 April 1979, p. 90 (retrieved 3 November 2016).
- Huntley, p. 169.
- Thribb, E.J. (24 February 1979). "George Harrison: George Harrison (Dark Horse)". Melody Maker. p. 29.
- Hunt, Chris (ed.) (2005). NME Originals: Beatles – The Solo Years 1970–1980. London: IPC Ignite!. p. 122.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
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- Starr, Red (22 March – 4 April 1979). "Albums". Smash Hits. p. 31.
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- Christgau, Robert (1981). "George Harrison: George Harrison". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 0899190251. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
- Huntley, pp. 161–62.
- Woffinden, p. 106.
- Carol Clerk, "George Harrison 1943–2001", Uncut, February 2002, p. 55; available at Rock's Backpages (subscription required).
- The Editor of Rolling Stone, p. 188.
- Dave Thompson, "The Music of George Harrison: An album-by-album guide", Goldmine, 25 January 2002, p. 18.
- Kit Aiken, "All Those Years Ago: George Harrison The Dark Horse Years 1976–1992", Uncut, April 2004, p. 118.
- Jason Korenkiewicz, "George Harrison: The Dark Horse Years 1976–1992", PopMatters, 2 May 2004 (retrieved 24 July 2016).
- Brackett & Hoard, p. 368.
- Richard S. Ginell, "George Harrison George Harrison", AllMusic (retrieved 23 August 2014).
- John Harris, "Beware of Darkness", Mojo, November 2011, p. 82.
- Graham Reid, "George Harrison Revisited, Part Two (2014): The dark horse at a canter to the end" > "George Harrison", Elsewhere, 24 October 2014 [22 November 2011] (retrieved 25 July 2016).
- George Harrison (CD booklet). George Harrison. Dark Horse Records. 2004. p. 10.CS1 maint: others (link)
- Leng, pp. 202–09.
- Clayson, p. 368.
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- Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
- "norwegiancharts.com George Harrison - George Harrison" (ASP). Retrieved 18 December 2013.
- "George Harrison > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
- "allmusic ((( George Harrison > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
- 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 George Harrison by George Harrison" Check
|url=value (help). oricon.co.jp. Oricon Style. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
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- Alan Clayson, George Harrison, Sanctuary (London, 2003; ISBN 1-86074-489-3).
- The Editors of Rolling Stone, Harrison, Rolling Stone Press/Simon & Schuster (New York, NY, 2002; ISBN 0-7432-3581-9).
- Frontani, Michael (2009). "The Solo Years". In Womack, Kenneth (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-1398-2806-2.
- Elliot J. Huntley, Mystical One: George Harrison – After the Break-up of the Beatles, Guernica Editions (Toronto, ON, 2006; ISBN 1-55071-197-0).
- Ian Inglis, The Words and Music of George Harrison, Praeger (Santa Barbara, CA, 2010; ISBN 978-0-313-37532-3).
- Colin Larkin, The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th edn), Volume 4, Oxford University Press (New York, NY, 2006; ISBN 0-19-531373-9).
- Simon Leng, While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison, Hal Leonard (Milwaukee, WI, 2006; ISBN 1-4234-0609-5).
- Chip Madinger & Mark Easter, Eight Arms to Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium, 44.1 Productions (Chesterfield, MO, 2000; ISBN 0-615-11724-4).
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