Happy Birthday George Harrison!
Happy Birthday George Harrison!
George Harrison is the eighth studio album by George, released in February 1979. It was written and recorded through much of 1978, a period of domestic contentment for Harrison, during which he married Olivia Trinidad Arias and became a father for the first time, to son Dhani. Harrison wrote several of the songs in Hawaii, while the track “Faster” reflected his year away from music-making, when he and Arias attended many of the races in the 1977 Formula 1 World Championship. The album also includes the hit single “Blow Away” and “Not Guilty”, a song that Harrison originally recorded in 1968 for the Beatles’ White Album.
Harrison co-produced this solo album with Russ Titelman, while the contributing musicians include Steve Winwood, Neil Larsen, Willie Weeks and Andy Newmark, with Eric Clapton and Gary Wright making guest appearances. The recording sessions took place at Harrison’s FPSHOT studio in Oxfordshire.
Issued on Dark Horse Records, George Harrison was warmly received by music critics on release, and commentators regularly cite the album among the artist’s best works after All Things Must Pass (1970). The album was remastered in 2004 as part of The Dark Horse Years 1976–1992 reissues.
With Harrison’s penchant for leisure and travel following Thirty Three & 1/3′s release, he had not started recording a follow-up until the spring of 1978, although he had been writing songs during his hiatus. Harrison decided to work with Russ Titelman as co-producer for George Harrison, which was recorded in his home studio at Friar Park, with string overdubs being effected at London’s AIR Studios. Special guests included Steve Winwood, Gary Wright (who co-wrote “If You Believe”) and Eric Clapton.
Before travelling to Hawaii in early 1978 to write or finish writing songs for the album, Harrison repeatedly listened to his 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass for inspiration. The new album was originally going to be titled Faster after the song of that title,which Harrison wrote as a tribute to his racing-driver friends in Formula 1. In addition to revisiting “Not Guilty”, a song he had first recorded with the Beatles in 1968, Harrison wrote “Here Comes the Moon” as a lyrical successor to his 1969 composition “Here Comes the Sun”. Another new song, “Soft-Hearted Hana” – the title of which references the Tin Pan Alley standard “Hard Hearted Hannah” – was written about a psychedelic mushroom experience Harrison had on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The recording of this song includes sounds and conversation captured at Harrison’s local Henley-on-Thames pub, The Row Barge.
The album was previewed by the single “Blow Away”, which reached number 51 in the United Kingdom and number 16 in the United States. George Harrison reached number 39 in the UK and peaked at number 14 in the US, going gold there. “Blow Away” was most successful in Canada, peaking at number 7 on the singles chart. Following the album’s release, Harrison’s efforts were increasingly directed towards the film industry, after he had formed Handmade Films in order to help his friends in Monty Python complete Life of Brian.
Three of the songs from the eponymous album were included on Harrison’s Best of Dark Horse 1976–1989 compilation: “Blow Away”, an edited version of “Here Comes the Moon”, and the single edit of “Love Comes to Everyone”. In 2009, “Blow Away” appeared on the career-spanning compilation Let It Roll: Songs by George Harrison.
In 2004, George Harrison was remastered and reissued both separately and as part of the deluxe box set The Dark Horse Years 1976–1992 on Dark Horse with new distribution by EMI, adding the bonus track demo version of “Here Comes the Moon”.
George Harrison received favourable reviews upon its February 1979 release.
The original LP featured a close-up photograph of Harrison, taken by Mike Salisbury, with the album’s name printed in brown in the top right corner. For the 2004 CD-remaster, the same picture was used but with different lettering. The brown title was erased, and Harrison’s signature in white was added to the top left corner. Footage from these photo sessions can be seen in Martin Scorsese’s 2011 documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World.
All songs written by George Harrison, except where noted.
For the 2004 digitally remastered issue of George Harrison a bonus track was added:
Upon adding Harrison’s catalog to iTunes, it was given another bonus track:
The following personnel are credited in the album’s liner notes.
Forty years ago, two of music’s biggest stars walked into BBC Radio 1 and sat down to review the week’s new releases.
Michael Jackson and George Harrison spent the next 90 minutes discussing singles by Foreigner, Nicolette Larson and The Blues Brothers, as well as the stories behind their own songs. The BBC discarded the show, keeping only a short clip. But now a rare recording has been found and restored. Excerpts will be broadcast in a special documentary this weekend.
Listeners will hear Jackson, just months before releasing Off The Wall, discuss how Motown refused to let him write his own music; while Harrison explains what it was like to work in the songwriting shadow of Lennon and McCartney.
At one point, Jackson turns to the former Beatle and says: “Let me ask you a question, did you guys always write your own stuff from the beginning?”
The guitarist replies: “Well, John and Paul wrote right from before we ever made a record.” Jackson seems taken aback, asking: “How did you manage that?” “I don’t know,” drawls Harrison. “They were clever little fellows.”
The atmosphere sounds relaxed and good-humoured throughout, and the two musicians take the task of reviewing the songs seriously, although at one point Harrison confesses: “To tell you the truth, I’ve no idea what is a hit and what isn’t a hit these days.”
The programme was part of a long-running Radio 1 series called Roundtable, which was presented in 1979 by David “Kid” Jensen. “They were both lovely guys to talk to,” he recalls of Jackson and Harrison.”We knew we had a good show on our hands, just by the general vibe in the studio before the mics went live.”It was like Juke Box Jury – people judging their peers. In the case of the Beatles and Michael Jackson, of course, it’s not quite their peers but certainly [people] in the same line of business.”
Although the broadcaster ranked the encounter as one of his favourite ever interviews, the BBC erased the programme and, for years, only low-quality bootleg recordings were available.
That was until Richard Latto, a producer at BBC Radio Solent, set about trying to find a complete copy.
“I put the word out on the collectors’ circuit and a chap called Richard White came forward with a cassette recording of the entire broadcast,” he says.”This was fantastic news because the BBC only held a short, four-minute extract from the show, which is tiny when compared to the [full] programme, which contains some very special moments that were thought to be lost forever.” However, restoring the audio to a listenable standard was “a tremendous challenge”, he explains.”There’s a clip on the internet which is barely audible and gives you an idea of the challenge we faced. We spent hours sharpening and polishing the raw sound, which was recorded in 1979 off an AM radio during the hours of darkness, so plagued by lots of hiss and distortion.”After extensive work, we were able to get the voices of the legendary stars and Kid to cut through with fantastic clarity.”
The results will be broadcast on BBC Radio Solent on Saturday, 9 February, the 40th anniversary of the original broadcast. It will reveal why Jackson wore a pith helmet throughout the recording and how Harrison took a year off music to “go to the races”.
On the tape, they review Foreigner’s Blue Morning Blue Day (“It gets your attention” – Jackson) and Lenny White’s cover of Lady Madonna (“I prefer the Fab Four’s version” – Harrison). The former Beatle discusses the merits of cover versions and discloses how he’d written the Beatles’ classic Something with Ray Charles in mind.
“As it happened, the song ended up with over 150 cover versions,” he says. “But when Ray Charles did it, I was really disappointed. It was a bit corny, the way he did it.” “You wrote Something?” exclaims Jackson. “Ohhhh, I didn’t know that. I thought Lennon and McCartney did that.” “Yeah,” Harrison replies. “Everybody thinks that.”
When George Met Michael will be broadcast on BBC Radio Solent at 11:00 GMT on Saturday, 9 February; after which it will be available for 30 days on BBC Sounds.
“My Sweet Lord” , released in November 1970 on his triple album All Things Must Pass. It was also released as a single, George Harrison‘s first as a solo artist, and topped charts worldwide; it was the biggest-selling single of 1971 in the UK. In America and Britain, the song was the first number-one single by an ex-Beatle. Harrison originally gave the song to his fellow Apple Records artist Billy Preston to record; this version, which Harrison co-produced, appeared on Preston’s Encouraging Words album in September 1970.
George wrote “My Sweet Lord” in praise of the Hindu god Krishna, while intending the lyrics as a call to abandon religious sectarianism through his blending of the Hebrew word hallelujah with chants of “Hare Krishna” and Vedic prayer. The recording features producer Phil Spector‘s Wall of Sound treatment and heralded the arrival of Harrison’s slide guitar technique, which one biographer described as “musically as distinctive a signature as the mark of Zorro”. Preston, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, and the group Badfinger are among the other musicians on the recording.
Later in the 1970s, “My Sweet Lord” was at the centre of a heavily publicised copyright infringement suit due to its similarity to the Ronnie Mack song “He’s So Fine”, a 1963 hit for the New York girl group the Chiffons. In 1976, Harrison was found to have subconsciously plagiarised the song, a verdict that had repercussions throughout the music industry. He claimed to have used the out-of-copyright “Oh Happy Day”, a Christian hymn, as his inspiration for the melody.
Harrison performed “My Sweet Lord” at the Concert for Bangladesh in August 1971, and it remains the most popular composition from his post-Beatles career. He reworked it as “My Sweet Lord (2000)” for inclusion as a bonus track on the 30th anniversary reissue of All Things Must Pass. Many artists have covered the song, including Andy Williams, Peggy Lee, Edwin Starr, Johnny Mathis, Nina Simone, Julio Iglesias, Richie Havens, Megadeth, Boy George, Elton John, Jim James, Bonnie Bramlett and Elliott Smith. “My Sweet Lord” is ranked 460th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. The song reached number one in Britain for a second time when rereleased in January 2002, two months after Harrison’s death.
George Harrison began writing “My Sweet Lord” in December 1969, when he, Billy Preston and Eric Clapton were in Copenhagen, Denmark,as guest artists on Delaney & Bonnie’s European tour. By this time, Harrison had already written the gospel-influenced “Hear Me Lord” and “Gopala Krishna”, and (with Preston) the African-American spiritual “Sing One for the Lord”. He had also produced two religious-themed hit singles on the Beatles’ Apple record label: Preston’s “That’s the Way God Planned It” and Radha Krishna Temple (London)’s “Hare Krishna Mantra”. The latter was a musical adaptation of the 5000-year-old Vaishnava Hindu mantra, performed by members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), colloquially known as “the Hare Krishna movement”. Harrison now wanted to fuse the messages of the Christian and Gaudiya Vaishnava faiths into what musical biographer Simon Leng terms “gospel incantation with a Vedic chant”.
The Copenhagen stopover marked the end of the Delaney & Bonnie tour, with a three-night residency at the Falkoner Theatre on 10–12 December. According to Harrison’s 1976 court testimony, “My Sweet Lord” was conceived while the band members were attending a backstage press conference and he had ducked out to an upstairs room at the theatre. Harrison recalled vamping chords on guitar and alternating between sung phrases of “hallelujah” and “Hare Krishna“.He later took the idea to the others, and the chorus vocals were developed further.Band leader Delaney Bramlett‘s more recent version of events is that the idea originated from Harrison asking him how to go about writing a genuine gospel song, and that Bramlett demonstrated by scat singing the words “Oh my Lord” while wife Bonnie and singer Rita Coolidge added gospel “hallelujah“s in reply.British music journalist John Harris has questioned the accuracy of Bramlett’s account, however, comparing it to a fisherman’s “It was this big”-type bragging story.
Using as his inspiration the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ rendition of an eighteenth-century Christian hymn, “Oh Happy Day”,Harrison continued working on the theme.He completed the song, with some help from Preston, once they had returned to London.
The following musicians are believed to have played on Harrison’s original version of “My Sweet Lord”:
On this day in 1972, Badfinger‘s “Day After Day” was issued as a single in the UK.
“Day After Day” is a song by the British rock band Badfinger from their 1971 album Straight Up. It was written by Pete Ham and produced by George Harrison, who also plays slide guitar on the recording. The song was issued as a single and became one of Badfinger’s biggest hits, charting at number 4 in the United States and earning gold accreditation from the Recording Industry Association of America.
“Day After Day” was written and sung by Pete Ham and produced by George Harrison, who plays some of the slide guitar parts of the song along with Ham.
The record also features Leon Russell on piano. As the song was unfinished at the time Harrison left the Badfinger album to produce the Concert for Bangladesh, the final mix was done by Todd Rundgren, who took over Straight Up after Harrison’s departure.
Released as a single in the US in November 1971 (January 1972 elsewhere), it would become the group’s highest charting single there, peaking at number 4 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart. It also peaked at number 10 on the UK Singles Chart in January 1972.
It remains one of the band’s best-known songs, most notably for the slide guitar solos. It went Gold in March 1972, becoming the band’s first and only gold single. “Day After Day” reached number 10 on Billboard’s Easy Listening survey.
Pete Ham – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, slide guitar
Tom Evans – backing vocals, bass guitar
Joey Molland – backing vocals, acoustic guitar
Mike Gibbins – drums, percussion
George Harrison – slide guitar
Leon Russell – piano
The Concert for Bangladesh (originally titled The Concert for Bangla Desh) is a live triple album by George Harrison and celebrity friends, released on Apple Records in December 1971 in America and January 1972 in Britain. The album followed the two concerts of the same name, held on 1 August 1971 at New York’s Madison Square Garden, featuring Harrison, Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Leon Russell and Eric Clapton. The shows were a pioneering charity event, in aid of the homeless Bengali refugees of the Bangladesh Liberation War, and set the model for future multi-artist rock benefits such as Live Aid (1985) and the Concert for New York City (2001).
Co-produced by Phil Spector and featuring the latter’s signature Wall of Sound in a live setting, the fundraiser album was delayed for three months due to protracted negotiations between Harrison and two record companies keen to protect their business interests, Capitol and Columbia/CBS. Besides the main performers, the musicians and si
ngers on the recording include Badfinger, Jim Horn, Klaus Voormann, Alla Rakha, Jim Keltner, Jesse Ed Davis and Claudia Linnear. The box set’s original packaging included a 64-page book containing photos from the concerts; the album cover, designed by Tom Wilkes, consisted of an image of a malnourished child sitting beside an empty food bowl.
On release, The Concert for Bangladesh was a major critical and commercial success, topping albums charts around the world, and went on to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in March 1973. Together with the 1972 Apple concert film directed by Saul Swimmer, the album gained Indian classical music its largest Western audience up until that time. The album was reissued in 2005, in remastered form, featuring a new cover.
Among the many words of acclaim that have been written about The Concert for Bangladesh since its release, author Tom Moon describes it as an album to play “whenever your faith in the power of music begins to wane”. Sales of The Concert for Bangladesh continue to benefit the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF, which raised $1.2 million for children in the Horn of Africa, in a 2011 campaign marking the album’s 40th anniversary.
The Hollywood Horns
The Soul Choir