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A great collection of Songs By George Harrison
on June 16, 2009
George's widow Olivia had a lot of input into the selection of songs on this album, and it's a good set of songs. Many hard core fans believe this collection should have been a 2 cd set, and should have included songs like "Crackerbox Palace", "Bangla Desh" and "This Song". But, be that as it may, "Let It Roll" is a solid collection of Harrisongs, remastered by Giles Martin, and that's good enough for me.
It may have been helped by the remastering, because the lead song of this new collection (from his "Cloud 9" album) "Got My Mind Set On You" sounds better than ever to me, here. One of the three Harrison #1 singles represented here, this one went to #1 in the U.S. in January of 1988. This was, by the way, the last song by any solo Beatle (up to now, anyway) to go to #1 in the U.S..
"Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)" was the 2nd Harrison single to go to #1 in the U.S. (June 1973) and features an amazing backup band of Ringo, Klaus Voorman, Gary Wright, Jim Keltner and Nicky Hopkin. One of George's best songs, simple and direct.
"Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)" was one many great songs from George's "All Things Must Pass" 3-lp set which went to #1 in at least half a dozen countries in 1970. Sir Frank Crisp was the former owner of George's home in the U.K. and Mr. Crisp was somewhat of an eccentric and carved sayings into statues and stones around the estate, which apparently gave George great delight. This song is one of the most memorable from "All Things Must Pass" and is a good lead-in to another of George's #1 Hits, "My Sweet Lord".
"My Sweet Lord" is probably George's signature song for various reasons. For one thing, it was his first #1 single, topping the charts all over the world. But more importantly, I think, to George was that this song represented a spiritual philosophy and spiritual journey that began in 1965 when he met his friend and guru Ravi Shankar who introduced him to Hindu philosophy. The song celebrates God in His many forms, as George chants "Hallelujah!" and "Hare Krishna!" This represents an eclectic approach to spirituality that lasted throughout his life. George believed that by chanting the names of the Lord one could eventually come to know God directly, and this song was an attempt to share that with his fans.
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is represented here by a live version recorded at the famous Concert For Bangladesh. This was a benefit concert that George organized to help provide necessities for refugees from East Pakistan, after Ravi Shankar asked George's advice on what might be done for these suffering people. George quickly pitched in by organizing the first concert of its kind ever in the world, a rock concert organized specifically for the purpose of raising money to help an important cause. This song features Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell and Ringo Starr playing live at that concert. While this is not the best version of the song (you'll find that where it was originally performed by George with his band mates, on The Beatles' "white album".) this is a soulful version that features some great guitar playing by George and Eric Clapton.
"All Things Must Pass" is of course the title track of that album, and represents George at his most philosophical. Reassuring us that "sunset doesn't last all evening / a mind could blow those clouds away" the song isn't just about sadness or pain, it indeed points out that ALL THINGS pass away. George sings, "none of life's strings can last", so the implication is that God, Love, or Enlightenment (depending on how you care to see it) is the only thing that can really endure.
"Any Road" is from George's posthumously released album, "Brainwashed" from 2002, but this song was originally written at the time of his "Cloud 9" album. It's a bouncy little ditty about life.
"This Is Love" was co-penned by George's friend, band mate, and sometimes producer, Jeff Lynne, and has a happy pop feel to it, just a nice little song about Love with a capital L.
"All Those Years Ago" is from George's lesser known "Somewhere In England" album, and is his tribute to former band mate and life-long friend, John Lennon. It features Ringo on drums and Paul and Linda McCartney on backing vocals, and it reached #2 on the charts in the U.S.. A beautiful lyric, he speaks glowingly of his recently murdered friend: "You were the one who Imagined it all / All those years ago." It has a bouncy and very nice production.
"Marwa Blues" is an instrumental from "Brainwashed" and features probably the best slide guitar playing of George's career. His guitar beautifully and gently weeps here, and the song needs no words. You can hear the influence of Ravi Shankar here, though it is in no way overtly an "Indian" tune. This song was awarded a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental.
"What is Life", the 2nd single released from the "All Things Must Pass" album, reached #10 on the U.S. charts. With a catchy guitar riff and a can't-get-it-out-of-my-head, upbeat melody, this was one of the more popular tracks from George's first solo release.
"Rising Sun" is another song from "Brainwashed" and is a perfect example of his writing about his life-long spiritual quest. Featuring George's son Dhani's perfect performance on the Wurlitzer, this represents one of the best songs from the album he was just finishing up when he made what he hoped would be his final journey, the journey to return to All That Is, God, Light, Love, Krishna, Enlightenment or whatever you choose to call It/Him/Her.
"When We Was Fab" is George's remembrance of the crazy days of being one of the world's most famous pop stars. He grew weary of Beatlemania very early on, back in 1965 or so, and this song is about that period. From "Cloud 9" the song was released as a single and reached the Top 30 but it is a favorite among fans, for its Beatles-related content and humorous and inventive music-video (not included here, but available on "The Dark Horse Years" box set).
"Something" is another track from the Bangladesh benefit and though not as eloquently produced and polished as the original Beatles recording from "Abbey Road", it does feature some excellent live guitar work and vocals with a nice arrangement for "big band rock and roll".
"Blow Away" is from the "George Harrison" album and it was a Top 20 hit in the U.S. and Canada in 1979. In an era when disco and punk music were the most popular genres, it was a breath of fresh air with it's simplicity and sweet lyrics: "All I got to do is to love you / All I got to be is, be happy / All it's got to take is some warmth to make it / Blow Away, Blow Away, Blow Away."
"Cheer Down" was written for the movie "Lethal Weapon 2" and allegedly the phrase came from something George's wife Olivia used to say to him when he'd get a little over-enthusiastic about something or other. Co-written by Tom Petty it was originally produced in 1989 and was formerly available on the now out of print "Best of Dark Horse 1976-1989".
"Here Comes The Sun" is the live version from the "Concert For Bangladesh" and features members of Badfinger on backup guitar, with George playing acoustic guitar and singing a clearly heartfelt rendition. Of the 3 live songs on this collection this one fares the best, as it is a rare pleasure to hear George sing with just a guitar (or 2 or 3), without bass, drums and keyboard. Without doubt one of his most beautiful songs.
"I Don't Want To Do It" was previously only on the "Porky's Revenge" soundtrack. It was written by his friend Bob Dylan who he later went on to record with as part of The Traveling Wilburys.
"Isn't It A Pity" is the 5th song on this collection from "All Things Must Pass" and that is fitting because many Beatles fans agree that George's 3-LP set was perhaps the finest album by any former Beatle. It certainly is in the Top 5 of Beatles solo albums, by anyone's count, and the unique "wall of sound" production by Phil Spector gave it a different sound than all of George's other albums, something he sometimes bemoaned, but frankly I can't imagine it any other way. In any case, this lyric speaks from George's heart and soul, so I'll end this with these words from George himself:
"Isn't it a pity
Now, isn't it a shame
How we break each other's hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other's love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity."
Oh, okay, sorry George, but I gotta get the last word in:
Buy this album! Not only because it's good, but because buying it will help insure the "powers that be" at Capitol/Dark Horse that we want MORE George Harrison albums! How about a "Part 2" featuring all the rare stuff and other great hits left off of this one?
p.s. And thank you George, for all this great music!