In the wake of the Scorcese film on George, my interest in Extra Texture was rekindled. I'd owned it on vinyl, and decided to get it on CD. The album still has not been remastered, and it could benefit from a bit of work. That said, I have been amazed at coming back to these songs some twenty five years on from first knowing them. Maybe it is me that's changed, and in my middle age I can discern things that in my mid twenties I didn't resonate with so much.
Like several reviewers here, Extra Texture has become synonomous with George's most depressing period (marriage break up, hepatitis, fallout from 'disastrous' US Tour...) played out on an album. I am finding this NOT to be the case now. Yes, the material does reflect lyrically and musically on occasions this downbeat frame of exhaustion - Grey Cloudy Lies most overtly. Yet there's not a stuckness in the depression, more of a decision and resolve to move on to somewhere better. Tired of Midnight Blue is really positive - it seems to describe George's realisation that Olivia's and his love for each other is the way out of the world of late night drinking and depression. 'Made me wish that I'd stayed home, with you' is pretty much the compass point that would turn George's life around back towards domestic bliss and soon to follow fatherhood.
However, what has really struck me on rediscovering Extra Texture has been the soulfulness of George's vocals, the care that has been lavished on the arrangements, and of course the top quality musicianship on show here. The strings, prominant bass and sometimes a little too distant vocals would all benefit from the remastering process. But the present production doesn't place ET at a severe disadvantage to the modern ear.
I am finding there to be more life and oodles more passion on these tracks than I had previously been aware of. It's a little more slow burning, but passion and conviction nevertheless. I can hear the album more in it's chronology now too, and several tracks could also have been placed on 33 and a Third - there's the soulfulness of Ooh Baby, which is a very close relation to Pure Smokey - and the band is probably pretty much the same. I'd have liked to have known what western music George was checking out in '74-'75. Surely he can't have just been listening to Krishna chants! The Fabs never hid their love of rhythm and blues, and my ears hear more than a little black soul, deep south gospel and even funk influences going on here.
I wouldn't suggest this should be the first port of call for someone just getting aquainted with solo George, but I'd certainly say it's definitely more worthy of investigation than some would tell you, and you may even find it becomes one of your unexpected faves!