In typical company fashion, a DVD box set is released with a CD of alternate versions and demos to tempt the fans into parting with big money thinking they're getting something exclusive. Those loyal fans are then dumped on six months later. You can hear the mocking, "Suckers!" from distance. Right, that's got that out of the system. On with the review.
Other than five songs on the reissued `All Things Must Pass', the five spread across `The Dark Horse' box set and the scandalously download only demo of 'Isn't it a Pity', George fans have been underepresented in the `previously unreleased' stakes. Until now, that is. The seven demos and three discarded takes are a mixture of acoustic and electric set-ups with George announcing the title to some of the tracks with occasional studio chatter included. Listening to these, you can hear that George knows exactly what he wants from the song and where he wants to go with it. Whereas many of the Lennon demos changed somewhat, Harrison sticks religiously to how he can hear it in his head and won't be swayed. Actually, the seven `ATMP' tracks wouldn't have sounded out of place on that release in the form in which they're presented here.
MY SWEET LORD. This sounds strange without the wah-wah guitar and backing vocals. In fact, so familiar is everyone with this, you'll find yourself taking the place of those backing singers at the appropriate junctures. Fading at the end, it's missing the closing mantra.
RUN OF THE MILL. A minute shorter than the familiar version, Harrison seems to run out of ideas, maybe because he hadn't finished writing it.
I'D HAVE YOU ANYTIME. The best track on the CD, in my own opinion, I think this is superior to what was eventually decided. It sounds a tad sparse without the added strings but it sounds better for that.
MAMA YOU'VE BEEN ON MY MIND. Double tracked George on a previously unreleased Dylan song that probably got no further than this. Interspersed with his trademark electric guitar and joined at the end with a heavenly sounding organ, it's strange that this was never revisited.
LET IT BE ME. Never released in any form until last years deluxe DVD set (at least on anything legal), it might seem enticing to hear a Beatle trying his hand at something recorded by hundreds of other artists but, in all honesty, it's a bit of a mess with a fairly weak breathed vocal double tracked in parts and a `crying` guitar in the background. This isn't the same version you can hear elsewhere, if you know where to look. It was wise to leave this `in the can', as I think it's the worse thing here.
WOMAN DON'T YOU CRY FOR ME. The most substantially different track to that eventually issued, what sounds like a Jew's Harp prominent in the background makes this a country hoe down that keeps you waiting for the medicine jar to kick in. I'm still deciding whether I prefer this or the finished article.
AWAITING ON YOU ALL. This is take 1, which George announces as, `Awaiting for you all' before launching into a fuzz guitar version. Chugging along nicely, the vocal is clearer.
BEHIND THAT LOCKED DOOR. With its slide guitar bridge, this is something you could imagine someone like Hank Williams singing. Here, it's delivered with a softer vocal.
ALL THINGS MUST PASS. Augmented with bass and drums (Ringo?), this could have passed for an unadorned master.
THE LIGHT THAT HAS LIGHTED THE WORLD. George and just his acoustic guitar making this sound very sad indeed.
As with that deluxe DVD box CD, what is shamefully missing is any semblance of information on any of the tracks. This cardboard sleeve opens out to reveal a few pointless lines of text from Giles Martin and Dr. Warren Zanes (whoever he might be) and wrongly claims, in capitals, that all the tracks are previously unreleased. Twice! (See photo.) It's unforgivable that there is nothing to read. I think I should compile the next volume.
As the title of this is suffixed with `Volume 1', it does suggest there may be further releases in the pipeline, which may be why this CD is short. Clocking in at 30:19, this could, and should, have had more tracks; it's not as if there's any studio time to be paid for. Having said that, as CDs go, it's reasonably priced and, with two previously unissued tracks, this can be looked at favourably.