Review : George Harrison - Early Takes, Vol. 1
PopmattersIt’s been nearly 11 years since we lost George Harrison to cancer, yet it feels as if we’ve been living without him for much longer. Over the last decade and a half of his life Harrison spent far more time tending to the sprawling gardens (which, it should be noted, cover an area the size of a small town) than he did recording music. A reflective, deeply spiritual man for whom the daily grind of a working musician’s life held no allure, Harrison was determined to live according to his own rules. While he never officially retired, in his later years he seemed to have found an inner peace from his non-musical pursuits that he never would’ve found schlepping around the world with a guitar in his hand.
Save for one final studio album and a couple of remasters, the posthumous career of the Quiet Beatle has also been pretty quiet. Unlike other grossly mismanaged estates (looking your way, Courtney Love) the guardians of Harrison’s music and likeness, widow Olivia and son Dahni, appear to be determined to protect and honor the legacy of a man who lived with a lot of dignity. Rather than cobble together some rush-job documentary, the Harrisons allowed themselves time to grieve and then went out and hired one of the world’s greatest living filmmakers, Mr. Martin Scorsese, to bring George’s complicated life story to the big screen. Scorsese and his team spent several years piecing together Living in the Material World, a moving yet occasionally exhausting documentary that should stand as the final word on the journey of George Harrison. Arriving with little fanfare in conjunction with the domestic release of Scorsese’s film is Early Takes, Vol. 1, a seemingly random collection of demos from the early 1970s that makes for a thoroughly satisfying listen despite its brief running time. ...full text
AllmusicOriginally released as part of the deluxe Blu-ray edition of Martin Scorsese's 2011 documentary Living in the Material World, the 2012 disc Early Takes, Vol. 1 rounds up ten of George Harrison's demos dating from the '70s. The exact dates are fuzzy, as the liner notes are little more than hagiography, but a quick scan of the titles pegs the great bulk of them -- six, to be precise -- from All Things Must Pass, with two others dating from 1976's Thirty Three & 1/3 ("Let It Be Me," "Woman Don't You Cry for Me), another from Living in the Material World, the 1973 album ("The Light That Has Lighted the World), and, finally, a perfectly fine cover of Dylan's "Mama, You've Been on My Mind." Several of these are solo acoustic demos, some are rough band run-throughs, none are all that far removed from the finished product, so the collection winds up just a tad anticlimactic for containing nothing but unreleased music: it all feels cozy. And while it's hard not to wish there were a surprise or two along the way, the familiar warmth certainly has its charms, too....full text
UncutDesigned to accompany the Martin Scorsese documentary boxed set, Early Takes Vol. 1 – even the title sounds like a bootleg – is a collection of ten demos, six of which ended up on All Things Must Pass, two glorious covers (Dylan’s “Mama You’ve Been On My Mind”, which Harrison had played during the Let It Be sessions, and the Everlys’ “Let It Be Me”) and two songs saved for later albums, “The Light That has Lighted The World” and “Woman Don’t You Cry For Me”.
All of them – except, arguably, “My Sweet Lord” – benefit from these spartan, bandless versions, as Harrison brings a delicacy to the material that Phil Spector, for one, chose not to. This is a delightful and charming addition to the original body of George’s work, which highlights the quality of his songwriting and presents the material in a fresh light.
Sadly, it’s unclear why quality has not been matched by quantity; those of us growing up in the 1970s who thought George’s Beatle/solo greatest hits was short weight will be nostalgically jolted back in time when they realise that this collection barely makes it past the 30 minute mark....full text
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