George Harrison

With all the rumors of late surrounding the state of George Harrison’s health, the title of his recently re-released first post-Beatles album takes on a certain sad irony. Still, listening to these digitally remastered songs, one can’t help but feel uplifted. Finally out from under the heels of arguably the 20th century’s greatest songwriting team, Harrison’s own compositional gifts exploded, producing not one, not two, but three discs of music (OK, so one record was only silly all-star jams left over from the sessions), certainly the most impressive first outing of any of the former "Prefab Four." This handsome little CD box-set contains all three records on two discs, even including a few previously unreleased tracks recently reworked by both Harrison and his son, Dhani. Sounding better than ever, all the original and genuine gems are also here: "Beware of Darkness," "Apple Scruffs," "Isn’t It A Pity," "What Is Life," the sweeping, Cinemascopic title track, the co-penned with Dylan "I’d Have You Anytime," Dylan’s own (and the best version, if you ask me) "If Not For You," and even sued-for-plagiarism "My Sweet Lord." Late Nashville legend Pete Drake plays absolutely superb pedal steel on many cuts, and Eric Clapton has seldom performed such passionate and concise guitar solos. The set also includes a nice booklet with recent notes from Harrison himself and all of the lyrics to the songs. It is odd, however, that the previously expurgated lyrics to "Awaiting On You All" have not been reinstated—still omitted are the lines, "But the Pope owns fifty-one percent of General Motors/ And the stock exchange is the only thing holding back the quota. …" In this "anything goes" era, it seems peculiar that Harrison would still be worried about offending somebody. Maybe he’s just that kind of guy. This re-issue is a bit pricey, but worth every nickel.