Customer Reviews: Dark Horse Years 1976-1992
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on February 25, 2004
Right from 1970 onward, George Harrison has always made his albums with great songcraft and care. This box, while not perfect, delivers on many different levels and should be in the music library of all George Harrison fans as well as more-casual Beatles fans.
The DVD and book it is housed in are simply magnificent. How great is it to see footage of George live in Japan in 1991 with Eric Clapton! Seeing him play a stinging slide on tracks such as "Cheer Down" and "Cloud Nine" remind of his unbelievable talent.
(If only he had toured more than he did. But that's another story.)
The book is crafted, again with care, with beautiful and rare photographs and an interesting collage of news clippings from the era of 1974, when he launched Dark Horse Records. The notes by Rolling Stone's David Fricke help complete the package.
Of course, it is mostly about the music. The six albums are all wonderfully remastered, with CD booklets containing awesome rarely seen photos. Much more complete than the original CD reissues of the early 1990s.
Music-wise, the clean sound helps really bring home the sheer brilliance and multi-layered ear candy that are "This Song," "Beautiful Girl," "It's What You Value" from 1976's 33 1/3; "Love Comes to Everyone," "Blow Away" and "If You Believe," from 1979's self-titled album; "Mystical One" and "Unknown Delight" from the highly underrated Gone Troppo. There isn't enough time to go into the gems on 1987's Cloud Nine, or to run down the career-spanning gems delivered live with Eric Clapton on the Live in Japan SACD (Don't worry, it also plays on a standard CD player).
A slight negative is the lack and variety of bonus tracks: Almost all George Harrison fans know about the travesty of Somewhere in England, and the four rejected songs. One of those, strangely enough, is a bonus track on the excellent 33 1/3. But the other three are nowhere to be found. CAPITOL, PLEASE REMEMBER SONGS SUCH AS "Flying Hour," "Lay His Head" and "Sat Singing" ON ANY FUTURE ANTHOLOGY (WHICH HAS BEEN LONG-RUMORED)... Too bad "Cheer Down" didn't make it either. But at least there IS the Live in Japan version!
The olive green box with the distinctive top-opening lid is so beautiful, too. The 1974 photo of George, amid the leaves of God's nature which he adored, and the stunning Dark Horse logo really are awe-inspiring for Harrison fans and should open the eyes, and ears, of many other music fans who have always been reluctant to give the "Quiet Beatle" his due as a solo act.
The timing of this release also is great, following the acclaimed "Brainwashed" and "Concert for George" DVD (both highly recommended) and his Grammy for the pop instrumental "Marwa Blues." His induction in March into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a soloist can only help shine the light of awareness on even more people! To that, I can only say, "It's about time!" God Bless You George, Olivia and Dhani for this wonderful treasure that I will always cherish!!!
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on February 28, 2004
After briefly being in print on CD in the early '90s only to disappear soon after, MOST of George's ouput on Dark Horse records is finally available again in beautifully-remastered sound and impressive packaging.
Each of the six albums represented in this box are available individually but, let's face it. A true Harrison fan will want the whole shebang. In addition to the original albums, the box includes a great little booklet with commentary by Olivia Harrison and David Fricke and an exclusive DVD.
Any further details concerning this set would be redundant, but there are a couple of issues that need to be addressed, most importantly the absence of the three "new" tracks from the still-out-of-print _The Best of Dark Horse(1976-1989)_ ("Poor Little Girl", "Cheer Down", and "Cockamamie Business"). Is it safe to assume that we'll have to buy _Best of Dark Horse_ when and if it's reissued just for those three great songs???
Then there's the issue of tracks from "Shanghai Surprise". The title track of the movie along with the rollicking "Zig Zag" (originally the B-side of "When We Was Fab") are presented as bonus tracks on _Cloud 9_, but what of "The Hottest Gang in Town", which is featured on the DVD? It's just as good as "Zig Zag" and far surpasses "Shanghai Surprise" but yet was left off.
Finally, there's the previously-addressed issue of _Somewhere in England_. If George saw fit to reissue it with the original, rejected cover then why didn't he include the four "lost" tunes as bonus tracks?! Yes, "Tears of the World" is a bonus track on _33 & 1/3_, but it doesn't belong there! (That's just me being nitpicky. Sorry!) Perhaps an additional bonus disc of the long-gone _Songs by George Harrison_ EP would have been appropriate for this box.
Oh well. What we DO have here is a good chunk of the most underrated Beatle solo music in one tidy package. Overall, the quality of this collection outweighs any faults. Purchase and enjoy!
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on April 19, 2004
2004 *finally* sees--after seemingly endless delays from all sides--the re-release of George Harrison's post-Capitol output on Dark Horse records. To some, the idea that any former-Beatles material could ever be out of print is pure sacriledge; this set (and the individual reissues that accompany it) puts right that wrong.
Unfortunately, the six albums contained in this collection--33 and 1/3, George Harrison, Somewhere in England, Gone Troppo, Cloud 9, and Live in Japan--have always represented a maddeningly inconsistent period for Beatle George. While two are generally highly regarded (33 and 1/3 is viewed by some as a lost classic, and Cloud 9 is--quibbles about Mr. Lynne's production aside--one of the most unexpected career renaissances ever), some of the other albums are not looked at as kindly by the scrutiny of hindsight. "Somewhere in England" and "Gone Troppo" aren't bad albums by any stretch of the imagination--the latter is somewhat unfairly maligned--but to use another former-Beatle parallel, they are the "Mind Games" to All Things Must Pass's "Plastic Ono Band."
On the plus side, the "remastering" done here is far, *far* better than the hackjob inflicted on "All Things Must Pass." Granted, the original Warner Brothers discs were pretty good to begin with; however, there are little improvements here and there, and the drive to "modernize" the sound by compressing it to death is thankfully not in attendence.
Bah, enough with the critical caution. All of these discs have their champions, and there're certainly gems lurking within; I, for one, am a big fan of 1979's self-titled effort, especially the racing tune "Faster." The albums are definitely worth hearing.
But is this super-expensive boxed-set the answer? To the casual fan, the answer's a resounding "no!" The booklet is nice, I suppose, and the somewhat-rushed DVD does fill a niche (although now that I know what the "Live in Japan" shows *looked* like, I'm even less fond of that somewhat-sterile live artifact), but only seriously hard-core collectors will see these perks as being worth ~$50 more than buying the discs separately at retail. The DVD in particular feels like a "preview" more than a collector's exclusive; where, for example, is "Blow Away," and why don't we get more of that TV appearence for "This Song?" Worse, the paltry bonus tracks/annotation on the CDs don't really make these "upgrades" significantly more attractive than the original Warner Brothers discs, which have been hitting used bins en masse. We were promised a cornucopia of out-takes and rarities, and if they're being saved for a future boxed-set down the line, making *this* your collector's expenditure seems somewhat silly.
Verdict? I'm not saying that the "Dark Horse Years" boxed-set is bad, nor am I saying the albums aren't worth investigation. They are! But this set is an unfortunate reminder of what could have been, and it offers very little value over simply buying the discs separately. And if one merely wants to *hear* the albums, the dumping of "old" editions of the albums makes that very affordable (and heck, it isn't like old LPs were ever difficult to find). This "Dark Horse" set reminds one of those super-expensive "Songs by George Harrison" comps that offered very little value for a lot of money. Let's hope the Harrison estate reverses that trend in the future.
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on March 12, 2004
Why must the music industry continually attempt to rip-off the fans??
This box set is an ABSOLUTE RIP-OFF!
Thankfully,each album IS available seperately. As for the DVD,read below.
The good news is some of the discs include new/original art concepts. "Somewhere In England" now uses the original photo collage cover. "Cloud Nine" uses an alternate back cover photo.
The "bonus" tracks,on each CD,are nothing more than DEMOS. What happened to the known unreleased songs? Such as "Flying Time","Lay His Head" & "Sat Singing"? Where are "Cockamamie Business","Poor Little Girl",and "Cheer Down" from the "Best of
Dark Horse" album? Where is "I Don't Want To Do It" or "The Pirate Song" ? What about some of the music from "Time Bandits"?
As for the DVD it too is INCOMPLETE. Spending more time on "Live In Japan",and being sure to include BOTH versions of "Got My Mind Set On You"...instead of including "True Love","Blow Away","All Those Years Ago",and "Dream Away".Why not just release a Harrison Music Video DVD? ( and include the pre-Dark Horse videos too! )
I love George's music,particularly "33 & a 1/3",but this set leaves a lot to be desired,especially considering the cost! Buy the discs individually,at your leisure,and give the karmic finger to those who wish to rip you off!
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on February 24, 2004
As far as it goes, yes, almost all of this has been released on CD before, but you know what, this set SOUNDS so MUCH BETTER that the others are like cheap cut-outs. George's solo career was rather consistent. He never wrote silly love songs, he did lean toward faith inspired ballads, and his wry take on life was thoroughly infectious and clearly focused.
His less than stellar moments were the CD DARK HORSE, not included here as it was on Capitol records, and SOMEWHERE IN ENGLAND. These tended to be momentary lapses of focus in otherwise brilliantly consistent songwriting career, espousing a roots oriented production aesthetic that would not catch favour again until Uncle Tupelo. But even as weak as SOMEWHERE is, it nonetheless contains enough strengths to indicate that George's lesser material was as good as anybody's best. Too frequently, George was viewed as a man out of time: he embraced being completely out of step with whatever was passing for a given year's fab conceits. And who knew better what a load of rubbish that was anyway?
To listen again to 33 & 1/3, GEORGE HARRISON, and CLOUD NINE is to be reminded of his sheer genius. Theses discs are light years away from ALL THINGS and Phil Spector, and were what made the extraordinary Travelling Wilburys possible. As much as the Byrds and The Band were responsible for drawing out the enormous importance of Dylan in his early career, it was Harrison who sustained Dylan's deserved reputation and in fact, breathed new life into it when Dylan himself seemed at 6's and 7's about his own future.
What is exceptionally of value here is the DVD, which contains the whumsical videos George did for his MTV moments, again, with tongue absolutely in cheek, and the footage in concert in Japan. George was never comfortable on tour after Beatlemania. Can't blame him. How painful it was is evident in the DVD tracks, as is the supreme bond of friendship between George and Eric Clapton. Forget about the images and listen, and what you have are moments of two friends playing off each other rhapsodically. The live CD of that tour holds up exceptionally well, 12 years later.
I don't suppose a casual listener would ever take up George Harrison. He is a guitar player's writer and a musician of uncompromising taste. The out takes are all inetresting, and about the only thing worth salvaging from the Madonna virused film he produced. (She is a disease). The other tracks are a mix of graceful humour and humble songcraft in progress and worth the punts necessary.
The Beatles were not and hopefully will never be, much for loading up their discs with demos and junk that just wasn't good. McCartney said at the conclusion of ANTHOLOGY, that that was it. Well, maybe the roof top concert. But so it should be. They knew as a band and as solo artists what was the real deal, and had no interest in being known for knackering their fans. Pity Costello missed that day in class. This is a great box set from one of the four reasons everybody else got into the business. Come listen to what it means to do your job well.
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on March 10, 2004
George Harrison Dark Horse Years 1976-1992 is an amazing collection however it is flawed so I have to agree with many of the reviews I've read it's a 50/50 split here. The remastered cd's are crisp and clean and George has never sounded better! A few friends of mine bought the boxed set so I'm familiar with what's there and what isin't. I opted to buy a few of the cd's individually, and build up the colection. I went with 33 1/3, the self titled George Harrison album from 1979, Cloud Nine And Live In Japan. However, there's more to the story. As a Beatles Historian and Harrison Expert, one has to remember that George was really at his peak at the start of his solo career. From All Things Must Pass (reissued and remastered in 2000) to The Concert For Bangladesh to Living in the Material World George was at his most confident, powerful and influential period and he would never recapture the glory of those years shortly after the breakup of the Beatles due to his dismay at the changes in pop music at the end of the Seventies. This is why the unincluded tracks and the botched dvd are so important. Another reason I strongly suggest buying the cd's individually is most are on sale at various retailers thru mid March. After the disastrous North American Tour of 1974 (George was hoarse and should have pushed back the tour a few months - I saw him in Chicago) George basically became a singles artist, releasing mediocre albums however the singles were very strong (some critics did applaud the 1974 shows, it must be noted however for the most part it went sour and a live album was never released)This is why the missing tracks on this new collection are so important! First of all, as stated above, the cd's are crisp and fresh, however as George did shine with some fine albums and various tracks later in his solo career (And george's fine guitar work cannot be questioned, especially his beautiful and exquisite slide guitar) the missing tracks make this boxed set extremely flawed and dissapointing. The Bonus tracks selected for each cd have little value and what about the 3 tracks included on The Best Of Dark Horse 1976-1989 however not included here? This cd should have been included even at the risk of the other songs being redundant being available on the original albums. Of the 3, Cheerdown is an absolute must have! Or they could have been used as bonus tracks on the Cloud Nine cd. Remember, these 3 tracks were the only studio material George released around the time of the outstanding Cloud Nine album which takes us up to 1992.(With the exception of The Traveling Wilburys, but that's another story) What about the 4 missing tracks from Somewhere in England? And why were 2 tracks deleted from the Live in Japan double cd? I suppose they might be included as bonus tracks when Live in Japan is released on dvd, much the same as Sir Paul did with his 1993 live album: 2 tracks were left off the cd however included in the video and recently released dvd. We'll have to wait on that one. What about the tracks from Shangai Surprise? Some are outstanding and should have been included. The dvd is basically a teaser with only 4 live tracks from the December 1991 shows in Osaka and Tokyo and the promotional films are mostly from the 33 1/3 period although we do get the 2 versions of Got My Mind Se On You. What about Blow Away And All Those Years Ago? A very incomplete selection of George's promo films here. When I reviewed Beatles Anthology on dvd last year, in an open letter to Neil Aspinall at Apple I called for the release of The Beatles At Shea Stadium concert of August 15th, 1965 as well as the 1966 Shea Stadium concert and The Beatles Last show at Candlestick park held on August 29th, 1966. This show was also filmed and Apple/Capital has it in their vaults. I also called for the release of all The Beatles promtional films, at the risk of being redundant for the collection however there's 3 versions of Rain, 2 of Paperback Writer and 3 of Hello Goodby. Beatles Fans and Experts like myself want to see it all! So, in an Open Letter To Capital/Apple, Olivia and Dhani Harison I say Release All Of George's Material! Like the Beatles before him, as a growing, changing, progressive artist he went thru many periods and phases in his solo years and all should be made available to his millions of fans around the world! We need a rerelease of The Best Of Dark Horse 1976-1989 on cd, the Somewhere In England Tracks, the Shanghai Surprise tracks and a complete release on dvd of the 1991 Japan shows as well as All Of George's Promotional Films! Now Capital Records may be planning a Harrison Anthology and all this material may see the light of day. Surely, Capital is planing on reissueing George's solo Apple material covering Bangladesh 1971 thru Extra Texture 1975. My advice again: Buy the cd's individually and avoid the frustration I'm reading so many other Harrison fans are experienceing! Also, when we get a Boxed Set from another ex-Beatle, buy the material individually and build up your collection as I'm doing to avoid the frustration of missing material! As George told us All Those Years Ago: "With Every Mistake We Must Surely Be Learning.." Enough Said!
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on August 10, 2006
First of all, I really appreciate George Harrison. By all accounts, he was always trying to live, do and be right. His music is a testimony to this. Few other real rock stars are singing songs about life in God (or god...he sings about both).

The Dark Horse Years is a great way to find out who George was within his music. Honestly, much of this music is plagued with an 80's sound...but that doesn't, for me at least, negate the songs lyrically or musically. In spite the 80's sound, George Harrison's rarely acknowleged talent comes bursting through on every song. "Gone Troppo" is my favorite of the albums within this set. George sounds like he feels good on this album. You can hear it. All other albums in this set are very enjoyable. The videos are good,too, and you get to hear George discuss how some of his songs came about.

The "Live in Japan" cd is excellent and fresh. Eric Clapton and George Harrison are a truly powerful duo. You also get to witness some of this on the video.

If you are a die-hard Beatle fan, The Dark Horse Years is for you. Ringo is on many songs, too.

One of the best things about this set of music is that it is the actual albums for these years. Songs are presented on each album in the order they were originally meant to be heard or in the order we are used to hearing them. Why aren't more artist compilations like this?

2 other albums that are essential to round out the George Harrison collection: "All Things Must Pass" and "Living In a Material World."
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on July 29, 2004
For the longest of time I couldn't find these out-of-print disc anywhere with good price but then BOOM, it come all in a box with an extra DVD & booklet.

Some may think this is a rip-off. Yes I admit it would be not so hard living without SOMEWHERE IN ENGLAND though it has some pretty good songs, but you can't be a full GH fan without it.

Mabye the bonus DVD could be relesed seperate from the others but I have no regret buying this box set. It is not a rip-off, it's somebody's life, the Dark Horse's life. I really think it's worth it taking it all at once.

It's the Quiet Beatle showing himself more, of course it's going to be great

As I have said before I have no regrets.

P.S. If you buy this, listen to them in order of relese date. You will see somebody's life all in a box.
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on March 24, 2004
This music is about melody, beauty, outstanding guitar craft, and escaping from the world of illusion. George Harrison was always dissed by the muzo press because he told the truth about himself, them and the whole slimy music biz. This is REAL music.
I agree with Music Fan from mid-Atlantic USA about the skimpy liner notes - it's funny that "Rolling Stone" (David Fricke writes for them) always slaughtered Harrison's music after "Material World" - now they love him! The liner notes that guy wants to read are in the book "The Music Of George Harrison" by Simon Leng.
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on July 22, 2004
Unlike a lot of reviewers, I understand _Gone Troppo_. It's a sunny album, with a funky post-psychedelic sound, and for god sakes, it's George. Other people find different solo albums to pan ~ but honestly, I can't understand why the guy was so often accused of mediocrity. When I listen to *any* George Harrison album, I hear the genius Beatle that moved freakin' Frank Sinatra with "Something". My point is that George Harrison is consistently underrated, despite the fact that he's a legendary talent that stands as an admired equal with Dylan, Lennon, McCartney, et al. Some will call that overrating ~ I think they have tin ears.

George Harrison's work demands a mellow, open state of mind: someone that enjoys the complex stylistics of a post-Beatle. Besides FaaB and RL from the Anthologies, we'll never know what a Beatle reunion would have sounded like. Instead, we have the many volumes of Beatle solo work, all of it excellent, to prod our imaginations. To that end, the vastly improved sound quality in the _Dark Horse Years_ collection is a consciousness expanding experience for anyone that wants to go deeper inside the mind that gave us so many memorable songs on the Apple label. Consider it a connoisseur's collection.

As for the question of buying the discs individually or in the box set: obviously, it takes a big fan to shell out a hundred bucks for anything musical. It all comes down to what you value. Personally, I think the DVD, book, and Live SACD are worth the price by themselves. Although it is a more subtly and beautifully assembled box set than the mind-blowing _Lennon Anthology_, it does lack the half-baked rarities and private conversations that are so cherished by hardcore Beatle-students. The Harrison rarities collection is coming soon, apparently, but in the meantime, any fan of the Beatles' *music* (as opposed to their faddish popularity) should give _Dark Horse Years_ a chance. George's was the most exquisitely produced and carefully composed body of work by an ex-Beatle, even though it wasn't as copious and popular as Paul's, or as poignant and direct as John's.
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