5 May 2012
George Harrison - Early Takes Volume 1
Originally released as a bonus disc with the Blu-Ray release of Martin Scorsese's disappointingly slight biopic "Living In The Material World", "The Early Takes Volume 1" is an alternately fascinating and frustrating listen. Fascinating because these stripped back early takes are almost all superior to the often overblown and cluttered arrangements which were officially released at the time, and frustrating because we know all of the other wonderful acoustic demos from "All Things Must Pass" which have been passed over when compiling this disc. One can only hope that there is an "Early Takes Volume 2" on the cards, and that it has a more generous tracklisting. Volume 1 features six tracks that made it onto "All Things Must Pass" and two tracks that would eventually appear on albums later in the seventies, the sparse recordings allowing Harrison's vocals and often wry lyrics a rare chance to shine unadorned. Covers of Dylan's "Mama, You Been On My Mind" and the Everly Brothers "Let It Be Me" with Harrison harmonizing sweetly with himself round things out, and paint an interesting alternate portrait of Harrison as a stripped back folk-singer. If only Rick Rubin had been around to produce some of this.
This is wonderful stuff and does a convincing job of highlighting just what a fine songwriter Harrison was - something that wasn't always apparent on his seventies albums for those that weren't listening very closely. It's great to see this get an official release, can we just get a more generous portion next time please? Perhaps the compilers could take a look at the wonderful Beware of ABKCO bootleg that's been circulating for years.
If we didn't know what we were missing this would easily be an 8 or 9 star release, but knowing what the compilers had to work with, it's hard not to feel a little ripped off.
You Can Buy Early Takes Volume 1 On CD Here Or On Vinyl Here