George Harrison - Early Takes: volume 1
Whilst we're in the middle of a significant slew of Paul McCartney re-issues, this 30 minute, ten track collection of George Harrison rarities seems rather slim in comparision, although the "volume 1" suffix perhaps tells you as much as you need to know. Nevertheless, with access to the Harrison archives and sensitive oversight by George Martin's son Giles, the series should prove to be a fascinating glimpse into the working practices of the most reclusive of the ex-Beatles. There is a caveat however; if you sold your granny to save up for the recent Living In The Material World super-deluxe set, you already have all of these tracks. If you'd known you could get them cheaper a few months down the line, you may have a right to feel aggrieved. "And you're working for no-one but me," etc., etc.
For those without much of a working knowledge of Harrison's solo career, whether these tracks are labelled 'demo' or 'early take' is largely moot, and how much they differ from the eventual versions hardly matters. (The lack of sleevenotes don't help either.) What's most striking is the sheer presence inherent in the recordings. Harrison and his fellow players are right here with you in the room; the snatches of studio chatter, count-ins and general air of early 70s looseness create an atmosphere that's palpable. They don't make them like this any more, literally. There are several highlights: the over-driven guitars of an early 'Awaiting On You All'; the confident run through Dylan's 'Mama You've Been On My Mind' and, of course, a pared down version of Harrison's biggest solo hit 'My Sweet Lord'. Great music then - with great sound - but a half-hearted effort by the label and Harrison's estate to put the music in any kind of context.