Songs from the Material World: A Tribute to George Harrison

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Songs from the Material World: A Tribute to George Harrison
Songs from the Material World 2003 album cover.jpg
Compilation album by
Various Artists
Released25 February 2003
Recorded2002
StudioBrandon Post Productions, Somers, NY; Flat Top's Wilderness Studios; House of Vibes Studio, Highland Park, NJ; Show Place Studios, Dover, NJ; The Snake Ranch, London; Unique Recording Studios, New York, NY
GenreRock
Length54:26
LabelKoch
ProducerScott Kuchler

Songs from the Material World is a multi-artist tribute album to English rock musician George Harrison. It was released by Koch Records on 25 February 2003, on what would have been Harrison's 60th birthday. The album contains twelve cover versions of songs written by Harrison, the majority of which originate from his years as a member of the Beatles.

Among the artists who contributed recordings to the compilation are Todd Rundgren, Dave Davies, Leslie West, They Might Be Giants, John Entwistle, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings and Wayne Kramer. Proceeds from the sale of the album went to Harrison's charitable organisation, the Material World Charitable Foundation.[1]

Background and production[edit]

The Songs from the Material World tribute project was first announced in September 2002, along with news of the imminent release of George Harrison's final studio album,[2] Brainwashed.[3] The line-up of contributing acts was said to comprise Roger McGuinn, Dave Davies, Peter Green, Todd Rundgren, Donovan, Al Kooper, Julian Lennon, They Might Be Giants, Leslie West, Wayne Kramer, Midge Ure and the Smithereens.[2] In December, an eleven-song track list was announced, accompanied by reports stating that Green, Lennon, Donovan, Kooper and Ure would not be participating.[4] The list of songs at this time included a recording of "If I Needed Someone" by McGuinn,[5] yet the track did not appear on the officially released album.[1]

Rundgren and Davies discussed their respective contributions to the project – the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and Harrison's 1973 solo hit "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)".[4] Rundgren said: "Although I was a young guitar player before I'd heard of the Beatles, I'd never heard the term 'lead guitarist.' George created the job description for my first paying gig, the vocation that I'm still lucky enough to practice today …"[4][5] Davies said he was usually averse to recording other artists' songs, but added: "George Harrison, because of his shining spirituality, is an exception. I pay tribute to George as a great musical talent but primarily as an advanced soul who was unafraid to share his spiritual vision and journey with us."[4][5]

The artists recorded their contributions at various studios in New York state and New Jersey, including Unique Recording Studios in New York CIty, and at The Snake Ranch in London. Scott Kuchler served as compilation producer while Dirty Boys, Steve Luongo and Todd Park Mohr were all credited as producers of the recordings.[6] The album's cover art was created by Milton Glaser and liner notes were written by musician and journalist John Kruth.[7]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3/5 stars[1]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[8]
Entertainment WeeklyC+[9]
Jam!(mixed)[10]
Music Emissions2.5/5 stars[11]

Koch released Songs from the Material World on 25 February 2003. Among contemporary reviews, Jim Farber of Entertainment Weekly highlighted Davies and Entwistle's contributions but otherwise was unimpressed with the album, saying: "Even in death, the quiet Beatle gets short shrift. Only a few tracks on this homage to Harrison do his talent justice."[9] Darryl Sterdan of Jam! admired much of the music but bemoaned the omission of Harrison's "Beatle and solo classics" such as "Something", "My Sweet Lord", "What Is Life" and "All Those Years Ago".[10]

Writing for the website Music Emissions, Dennis Scanland considered Masters of Reality's version of "Devil's Radio" to be the highlight and concluded: "Songs From The Material World is definitely not an essential album but Harrison fans might get a kick out of it."[11] While reviewing this and other Beatles-related releases on his website, Elsewhere, New Zealand Herald critic Graham Reid said that the cast of performers provided "the enticement of the unexpected", given the absence of obvious Harrison associates such as Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Bob Dylan. Reid was critical of the song selection, however, citing its poor representation of Harrison's solo career, and of the performers' tendency to "follow too faithfully in the footsteps of the master".[12]

Johnny Loftus of AllMusic writes that, while the performances are "generally good", the album's sequencing creates "the pacing issues that plague so many multi-artist compilations". Among the highlights of the collection, Loftus identifies Rundgren's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", which "effortlessly replicates the grandeur" of the Beatles recording, and Kramer's version of "It's All Too Much".[1]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by George Harrison.

No.TitlePerformer(s)Length
1."While My Guitar Gently Weeps"Todd Rundgren5:45
2."Devil's Radio"Masters of Reality3:16
3."I Me Mine"Marc Ford5:37
4."Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)"Dave Davies3:34
5."Here Comes the Sun"John Entwistle2:47
6."Within You Without You"Big Head Todd & the Monsters4:45
7."Savoy Truffle"They Might Be Giants3:06
8."I Want to Tell You"The Smithereens3:14
9."Old Brown Shoe"Leslie West5:33
10."Taxman"Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings3:55
11."It's All Too Much"Wayne Kramer5:39
12."Isn't It a Pity"Jay Bennett & Edward Burch7:15

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Loftus, Johnny. "Various Artists Songs From The Material World: A Tribute To George Harrison". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  2. ^ a b Billboard staff (10 September 2002). "Rock Vets To Celebrate Harrison's 60th". billboard.com. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  3. ^ Susman, Gary (6 October 2002). "Handle With Care". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 1 November 2002. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Billboard staff (11 December 2002). "Rock Vets Fete Harrison On Tribute Disc". billboard.com. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Koch Entertainment (11 December 2002). "KOCH Entertainment Presents Songs From The Material World: A Tribute To George Harrison". PR Newswire. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  6. ^ Songs from the Material World: A Tribute to George Harrison (CD booklet credits). Various Artists. Koch Entertainment. 2003.CS1 maint: others (link)
  7. ^ "Songs From The Material World: A Tribute To George Harrison CD Album". CD Universe/Muze. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  8. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th edn). London: Omnibus Press. p. 2650. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  9. ^ a b Farber, Jim (28 February 2003). "Songs from the Material World: A Tribute to George Harrison". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  10. ^ a b Sterdan, Darryl (14 February 2004). "Songs from the Material World". Jam!. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  11. ^ a b Scanland, Dennis (23 April 2003). "Various Artists – Songs From The Material World". Music Emissions. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  12. ^ Graham, Reid (1 November 2005). "The Beatles Anthology on DVD (2003): And the songs remain the same?". Elsewhere. Retrieved 7 October 2015.