George Harrison Vinyl Reissues: What You Need To Know
The last few months have seen a broad range artists from Chemical Brothers to Pink Floyd reissuing their entire back catalogues on vinyl, giving fans the chance to own some long-since deleted albums on the format without having to spend hours trawling auctions sites and second-hand record stores to complete their collections.
That trend has continued into this year and of all the programmes of reissues recently announced, one of the most exciting has been the news that George Harrison is to release his entire catalogue of solo albums on vinyl, including his first post-Beatles LP All Things Must Pass and his 1992 live album Live in Japan. All of them have been lovingly remastered at Abbey Road Studios from the original master tapes and are due to be released on February 24th, to mark what would have been Harrison's 75th birthday.
If you're a fan with deep pockets who is looking to buy them all in one go, there's a box set featuring all 12 albums on 180g black vinyl. For those who just need one or two to fill in the gaps in their collection – or are trying to decide which ones to buy – we've put together a handy guide below detailing what you can expect from the new reissues...
If you've ever wondered where Noel Gallagher got the word 'wonderwall' from, now you know. Released in 1968 before the Beatles spilt, Harrison composed the music on this album as a soundtrack to the debut feature film by Joe Massot, best-known for his work on Led Zeppelin documentary The Song Remains the Same. The film is a 90-minute psychedelic tale about an eccentric and creepy professor who becomes obsessed with a model who moves in next door, drilling peep holes in the adjoining walls to spy on her. Harrison was given carte blanche with the musical direction and the result blends his love of Indian music with rock, psychedelia and plenty more besides.
All Things Must Pass
His first solo release after the Beatles went their separate ways and the first solo album by any of the fab four to top the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, All Things Must Pass still stands up as one of Harrison's greatest achievements. Written in the tumultuous period that followed the recording of the Beatles self-titled double LP, the album features his hit single 'My Sweet Lord' and includes performances from Eric Clapton, Billy Preston and Peter Frampton, among many others. The reissue is a 40th anniversary edition presented as a 3LP reproduction of the album's original release.
Living in the Material World
Written and recorded following his work on the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971, Harrison's second solo album almost repeated the chart-topping feat of its predecessor, reaching the top spot in the U.S. but peaking at No.2 in the UK. Including the songs 'Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)' and 'Sue Me, Sue You Blues', Harrison's swipe at former bandmate Paul McCartney, the album was largely self-produced, with a little help from Phil Spector, who co-wrote and recorded 'Try Some, Buy Some'.
Released in the wake of ongoing legal battles with his former bandmates and the dissolution of his marriage to Pattie Boyd, Dark Horse, as the titles suggests, is a much darker and more broody affair than his earlier solo albums, written and recorded during a chaotic year in which Harrison was drinking heavily, something he later described as “the naughty period 1973-74”. It was also the time in which he was in the process of Dark Horse Records, from which the album takes its name, and features contributions from Ringo Starr, Ronnie Wood and Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones.
The final album that Harrison would release through Apple Records, Extra Texture was written after his move to California and the songs here are some of his most introspective. Highlights include 'Can't Stop Thinking About You' and his tribute to Bonzo Dog member Larry Smith, 'His Name is 'Legs' (Ladies & Gentlemen)'.
Thirty Three and 1/3
After a difficult couple of years that had seen Harrison contract laryngitis in the middle of a world tour, then hepatitis the following summer, Thirty Three and 1/3 was written and recorded in challenging circumstances, but after his previous two albums had been poorly received this was heralded as a return to form for the ex-Beatle, topping the charts in the U.S. The first release on Harrison's own Dark Horse label, two of the album's songs – namely 'Crackerbox Palace' and 'True Love' were accompanied by videos directed by Monty Python's Eric Idle.
Written and released after Harrison's year-long sabbatical from making music, during which he married Olivia and had their son Dhani, this eponymous studio album has a much brighter mood and includes 'Not Guilty', a song originally written during the Beatles' White Album sessions. Other highlights include 'Faster' and 'Here Comes the Moon' and the album was one of his best-received solo works.
Somewhere in England
The first album Harrison released following the murder of John Lennon in December 1980, Somewhere in England featured the song 'All Those Years Ago', a track that Harison had initially been working on with Ringo Starr that was left unfinished. Following Lennon's death, Harrison went back and reworked the song's lyrics to reflect the tragedy, inviting Paul McCartney and his wife Linda to perform backing vocals. The song was the album's biggest hit, reaching No. 13 in the UK charts, while the album also featured two cover versions of songs by American composer Hoagy Carmichael, who also died later that year.
Released just a year after Somewhere in England, Gone Troppo would precede a five-year gap between albums as he took an extended hiatus to ficus on his family life. Widely considered at the time to be a rush-recorded effort to complete his contract with EMI/Capitol, the album has grown in stature in recent years and is perhaps one of his most underrated releases.
Returning after hiatus for what would turn out to be his final studio album to be released during his lifetime, Cloud Nine's biggest single by far was a cover of James Ray's 1963 hit 'Got My Mind Set On You'. Harrison's version was accompanied by a video which featured a near-static Harrison strumming a Fender Telecaster in an armchair, only to leap out of it and perform some acrobatic dance moves during the song's saxophone solo (sadly, it wasn't the real Harrison, but if nothing else it proved that he hadn't lost is sense of humour). The song became his first Number One hit in 15 years and the album featured contributions from Elton John, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and ELO mainman Jeff Lynne, who co-wrote and produced the album's other standout moment, 'When We Was Fab'.
Live in Japan
Recorded during Harrison's joint tour with Eric Clapton, Live in Japan is the second of two live albums Harrison released during his career (the first being Concert for Bangladesh, in 1971) and featured a setlist that combined is solo work with some of the Harrison-penned songs from his time in the Beatles, including 'When My Guitar Gently Weeps', 'Taxman' and 'Piggies'. The album also includes a blistering cover of Chuck Berry's 'Roll Over Beethoven' as its closing number, as well as 'Cheer Down', written for the Lethal Weapon 2 soundtrack with Travelling Wilburys bandmate Tom Petty.
Harrison's final solo release came posthumously following the former Beatle guitarist's death in 2001. While many of the songs he had begun writing remained unfinished, the work he had started almost a decade earlier was completed by his son Dhani Harrison and longtime friend and collaborator Jeff Lynne. The album picked up a Grammy award for 'Marwa Blues', which won the award for Best Instrumental Performance in 2004.