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4.6 out of 5 stars55
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 4 February 2005
The critics had a field day dismissing this album: religious preaching, holier than thou lyrics and all the rest of it. Why can't people listen to the music for a change? How can anyone be offended by spiritual conviction? Or should I say scared? The same thing happened with Dylan when he became a Christian....it would seem that people prefer no allegiances to anything stronger, which is ridiculous. Life is complex and different people have different ways of dealing with it. And who can blame George after years of being idolised as some sort of hero in the Beatles? When the only return he got was Money for sure but a complete lack of privacy and sense of identity as an individual. Anyway, to the music. Which is Mighty Fine here. The opener 'Give Me Love' is among the finest songs written by anyone and as a result was about the highlight of the Conert For George concert. This song summed up George, even McCartney remarked upon the great chord changes in this song.
The rest of the album is equally fine. 'Sue Me Sue You Blues' contains a rather sad lyric on the Beatles split, but what Slide Guitar!! 'The Light That Has Lighted The World' is absolutely perfect, great chord changes again.....and a melody to die for. 'Don't Let Me Wait Too Long' is an infectious George pop song. Brilliant. 'Who Can See It' strains George's vocals for sure in rather too high a key. So what? Would we have preferred Ronnie Spector to have sung lead here? I think not. The title track is a pretty good stomping rocker with a lovely guitar solo, although far too short. George was rather fond of the horn section but the reason people buy George albums is to hear his guitar, not the horn solos of Tom Scott et al. Am being a bit picky, but you get the point! Side 2 (of the vinyl album) opened with The Lord Loves The One which also showcases an inspired guitar solo, this time of appropriate length. 'Be Here Now' is beautiful. Period. 'Try Some Buy Some' ditto. What a gorgeous melody! And George's production here proves that he could do a pretty effective Spector impresssion, to great effect. 'The Day The World Gets Round', written the day after the Bangla Desh concert is similarly breathtaking in its melody and production. And then we come to the closer 'That Is All' which is about the best ballad George wrote, at least as a solo artist. And those words of the middle eight ring as true 33 years later as they did at the time.
'Times I find it hard to say...with useless words getting in my way
Silence often says much more...than trying to say what's been said before'
George chose his allegiances....and his friends carefully. A best practice if ever there was one. And this album is brimming full of happiness if you look beneath the surface. Inner Peace. And beautiful music throughout. A worthy follow up to the monumental 'All Things Must Pass' (1970) if you ask me.
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on 15 May 2004
In 1971 George Harrison released the excellent and hugely successful 'All Things Must Pass' - his first solo album (excluding the 'Wonderwall' soundtrack and the failed experiment with 'Electronic Sound' both recorded prior to the Beatles break-up). 'My Sweet Lord' was the massive, and controversial, hit from that album. (Listen to 'Isn't It a Pity' for the standout track.) After the major success of 'All Things' the question was could George repeat the feat with his 2nd album - 'Living in The Material World' (1973)?
Although he wasn't as strong or confident a singer as John and Paul there was a haunting wistfulness in George's voice that really gave his music a quality that the other two wouldn't match. Just as George couldn't compete with them when it came to belting out rockers so they wouldn't have conveyed the emotion that he did on his first 2 solo albums. For me, the slow ballads were George's strength - his serious reflections on life, fame and spirituality.

There are several standouts on 'Material World' including 'The Light That Has Lighted The World' - a song about resisting change which is melodically strong if lyrically dark. Nicky Hopkins' piano is just outstanding and George shows how far he has developed his guitar skills. In his book 'The Music of George Harrison - While My Guitar Gently Weeps' (a recommended read with many observations, insights, technical comments on the GH songs) Simon Leng says that the song is "not quite fully realised as there is no chorus, and no hook to fix the piece in the mind." I can't accept that - if we really need all of the music that we enjoy to conform to stereotype construction then we should stick to throwaway pop and forget about talented songwriters like GH who are prepared to try something different occasionally - the only question to ask is 'does it work?'. In this case there is no debate. It has no chorus because George didn't want one in and the song does 'fix' in the mind very quickly - it's really excellent - the album's magnum opus.

'Who Can See It' is another ballad which has an unusually complex construction (George brought lots of ideas into his music from his study of Indian instruments and rhythms) but it's such a great piece that it all falls into place very quickly and the haunting vocals just stop you in your tracks. Listen to it without any distractions (get those headphones out) - let the emotions take hold and you might just have to wipe away a tear at the end. This must be George's strongest ever vocal performance - the beautiful line "..... my life belongs to me, my love belongs to who can see it' is presumably the ex-Beatle talking about his desire to step back out of the public gaze - after the traumatic years of hysteria which he so detested. In his book 'I Me Mine' George says that this song reminds him of Roy Orbison. You can tell what he means when you listen to the rising lyrics but Roy would never have got near the emotion that George's vocals convey here.
'That is All' is yet another lovely ballad - nothing too introspective or dark here, just a love song with an interesting construction and a fuller sound. 'Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)' was the monster hit single from the album - 'Don't Let Me Wait Too Long' would have been another had it been released as a 45. 'Sue Me, Sue You Blues' doesn't work for me but GH gets to display his skills with the dobro. 'Try Some Buy Some' is dismissed by Simon Leng as an 'obvious filler track' (it has the lush Spector treatment which is out of kilter with the mood of the album) but it works and that is all we can ask!
Rolling Stone called the album "drearily monochromatic" - were they offended by some of the sentiments perhaps? George Harrison dealt neatly with some of the critics "they feel threatened when you talk about something that isn't be-bop-a-lula". The best response to the critics was provided by the album's success - over 3 million copies sold worldwide to go with the No. 1 single.
Listen to the whole set and ask yourself how such a talent was stifled during the latter Beatle years when he was made to feel so inferior to the Lennon / McCartney double act that he was nervous and hesitant about offering his own compositions to the band ('Something' and 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' were both turned down initially).

This album saw George emerge as the complete article - song writer, singer and guitarist (there's no Eric Clapton to help out) and it beggars belief to think that he wasn't given more room for creativity in the Beatles. John and Paul must have been blown away when they heard this - if you haven't heard it you should do so immediately. If it is a distant memory from 30 years ago then buy the CD and get to know it again - you won't regret it!
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on 28 September 2006
This is a surprisingly good re-issue given that the original album sold so well. I thought there'd be little to re-discover but the digital production has been done with a sympathy that has cleared the original sound but left a warmth and honesty in everything. Oddly, in an age where Devandra Banhart and Jonna Newsome are kooky and cool this album fits very well. It's folkier than the albums that followed, sometimes spiritual, but often very open and engaging. Some of the tracks - Be Here Now, for example with its haunting simplicity - haven't dated at all. It's great to see Miss O Dell - where Harrison cracks up twice in fits of giggles - finally released on an album, proving wrong those who thought the man too serious.
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on 1 January 2000
This album is full of such exquisite pain, seemlessly blended with heart soaring joy that if it doesn't move you you're already dead. There are a few good old rocking numbers on it, but having listened to it from start to finish you will feel like you've undergone an emotional journey both draining yet fulfilling. My words can't do it justice, just listen to it, that is all.
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on 31 December 2003
Albums come and go, times change, all things must pass............
BUT this is still one of my all-time favourites! I wore out two vinyl copies in the 70's, and the CD is always close at hand.
George's singing touches the soul - if it doesn't, then you probably haven't got one.
If he'd only ever made this record, his reputation would still have been assured.
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VINE VOICEon 3 August 2007
The early 1970s saw George Harrison enjoying his post-Beatles freedom. He had provided some of the highlights on the White Album and
Abbey Road, and had produced a seriously good magnum opus in the shape of "All Things Must Pass". Then he had recruited many of his rock star mates to perform a now legendary benefit for the emerging nation of Bangladesh. Quite a lot of activity for the so-called Quiet One. So what next?

"Living in the Material World", that's what. A patchouli-scented collection of east meets west, bells and bangles and electric guitars. It is more overtly spiritual than "All Things Must Pass", many of the songs being specifically about George's faith. On the hit single "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth) "the message is given a light touch, aided by some very stylish slide guitar. "The Day the World Gets Round" is another delicate, spiritual ballad.

On "The Lord Loves the One (That Loves the Lord)" however the message sounds a bit oppressive, which I am sure was not the intention. The preachiness of one or two tracks has caused some to dismiss this album, but don't be put off because they are still strong musically and many other tracks are excellent in all departments, for example the stomping title track, where tablas and sitars interplay with drums and guitars, and the stately "Try Some, Buy Some" with its opulent orchestral arrangement. The bitter legal wrangles over Apple and the Beatles' break-up also get an airing in the shape of "Sue Me, Sue You Blues".

This remastered version provides some worthwhile additions, including "Deep Blue", the b-side of the single "Bangladesh". What a shame they didn't give us "Bangladesh" as well, because it did not feature on any original album (although there is a good live version on the Concert for Bangladesh".
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 August 2012
After the stunning triple album that was `All Things Must Pass', this was always going to be a difficult album for George Harrison to make. I had the impression that he used up his `written whilst with the Beatles' material and now he was getting down to the his real solo career. And this album builds on ATMP: it is not more of the same but shows a clear direction of travel.

This is a very good album, despite what was said at the time, and I am giving it four stars (four because ATMP was five-star and this is almost as good). George Harrison had developed a distinctive sound with his guitar and his voice. He also had developed the knack of writing lyrics that really meant something: yes, many of them spiritual, but that was never and hopefully never will be a reason to dismiss an album of beautiful melodies and harmonies.

The opening track 'Give Me Love' is a statement that this is a good album: it is one of those melodies that once heard will not be forgotten 'The Light That Has Lighted The World' is a tour de force in terms of a haunting melody with complex key changes and unexpected melodic twists. And so on ... track after track of deeply thought-through and carefully arranged music.

It's a shame that this album was heavily criticised at the time of its release - it seemed to be a favourite pastime of the critics to pan the Beatles' solo material. The thing is ... they weren't the Beatles any more: they were the component parts, going in different directions. And this direction was very good.

Well worth playing forty years later.
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on 5 January 2007
Living In The Material World has always been my second favourite Harrison album (after All Things Must Pass). I looked forward to hearing the album remixed for some time having originally purchased my CD around 1991 whose sound quality was very poor - particularly for CD.

When I spotted the remastered box set, I bought it without question. The set itself is lovely, matching that of its predecessor ATMP. But upon hearing the CD firstly through the headphones and latterly through my system's speakers, I have to admit to being somewhat disappointed by the quality of the remastering. The bass end sounds warmer, but the top end is still paper thin and sadly, the hissing of the master tape is just about as audible as ever.

However, one thing that hasn't lost its shine is the content. These songs are nothing short of beautiful, wonderfully played and George's voice still sends a shiver down my spine not because he was a particularly great singer but simply because he sang from the heart: he meant every word he sung.

The poorest recorded track is the opener, the gorgeous Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth). The drums sound awful and the guitars are light. The harmonies however are superb and again, the voice keeps this great tune together. The DVD contains a live recording of this track from his Live In Japan tour of the early 1990s. This version turned up through the home-cinema system sounds fantastic and it gave me the chance to work out how to play the song on my guitar with the capo on the second fret!

The rest of the DVD is disappointing and if you already own Live In Japan on this format I wouldn't bother buying the CD/DVD set.

Living In The Material World - the song - has benefited from remastering. George's gnarly lead solo, trading riffs with the saxophone has real bite. Parts of this solo are up there with the solo on Lennon's How Do You Sleep? which may have been recorded on the same guitar (and around the same time?). This is such a brilliant song in every way including the middle Indian sections. The lyrics are also quite interesting - as pointed out in the booklet, most of whose contents are taken from George's I, Me, Mine book.

Personal favourites are The Light That Has Lighted The World (nice slide guitar solo), Be Here Now (sitars and incense and George's incredibly multi-layered harmonies), the Beatley Don't Let Me Wait Too Long and the final song, That Is All. I love the flutes that come in on the final verse and again, George's simple but spot-on guitar solo (played on a Les Paul, I'd guess).

The bonus tracks are indeed, a bonus. I've always liked Miss O'Dell and its inclusion here is welcome.

So, a nice boxed set which sits alongside ATMP nicely. The remastering on the whole is a let down but these songs still sound magnificent. For anyone venturing into the world of the Beatles for the first time through their Love CD (which portrays George strongly as the 'mystical' one) this is a great set to get into George's solo work.

I hope other albums will follow but look forward to Gone Troppo receiving the same treatment more than the others.
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on 28 September 2006
This deluxe edition arrived today. The box is similar in style to the box of the All things must pass cd. Inside is a foldout cover. The cd has been excellently remastered. Wonderful crisp sound. Nice booklet, including some explanation of the songs by George, probably from past interviews. The dvd is a little short but still nice. A must have for every music lover.
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on 4 May 2008
This is a very beautiful album. More chilled and relaxed than All Things Must Pass, an album truly full of passion.

I just love it
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