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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars George Harrison collection lets memories, thoughtfulness, and nostalgia for his unique sound 'roll', 13 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Let It Roll: Songs of George Harrison (Audio CD)
Hi there. Song collections - greatest hits, desert island collections, best of etc, are an individual and eclectic genre serving a wide fan base, offering a random play selection (though set in order by someone, often chronological) of best-known tracks (usually), but always including something rare or odd of spicy, exotic interest to the artist's enthusiasts. The adage that you can't please all the people all the time almost goes with out saying with respect to these ensembles, but then again, so it might be said with any collection, an homogenous album release or an individual's personal selection of favorite tracks ripped for a mate.

George Harrison's 'Let it Roll: Songs of George Harrison' - aptly sub-titled and slipping out from under the burden somewhat, of the genre expectation roused by titles mentioned above, is simply marvelous. A Beatle fan from childhood who, during my teens in the 70s when the foursome embarked on their solo careers, I bought and listened to many of their individual records (then), but largely Lennon's work, then McCartney's, some of Harrison's and less of Ringo's. 'Let It Roll' speaks back to material I knew and loved then which I haven't made conscious efforts to listen to for, well, decades, and updates other work that had been lost in my preoccupation with other artists and other sounds in between. It doesn't disappoint.

I was familiar with the Beatles numbers and the 'All Things Must Past' tracks. These stand up and reach out as lyrically and musically to me now as they did more than 40 years ago. They are on par with anything `Beatle', and refracted in quality too, in the way that some of the best of the music of the Fab Four individuals could be when they 'hit the spot'. Lyrically, and musically, I am made to think of Sgt Pepper's 'Within You, Without You' - not just the occasional sitar, but the eclectic religious philosophy of the lyrics (so beautifully crafted) which stand often as simply 'lovely philosophy of life and thought.' 'My Sweet Lord' - pop anthem as mantra, epitomizes both this lyrical philosophy but encapsulated at a level of sophistication equivalent to cartoon band, The Archie's 60's bubblegum anthem, `Sugar'. The song is brilliant (the hypnotic, tambourine beat made me go out and buy one of the percussion instruments at 13), but was a litigation nightmare for Harrison during the 70s. Ironically, it never brought to my mind the tune deemed to have been the origin of its accused plagiarism (although I later appreciated the tuneful similarity between the two). To me, it shines as an (then - teen) anthem to cross religious communion ('Lord' has multiplicity of interpretation; the backing vocal lines subtly shift from ringing 'hallelujahs' to 'hari Krishna's'. My apologies for misspellings and ignorance in matters religious, but there is at surface level - the only level? - a simple message of celebration of 'God', irrespective of cultural concept and origins. The track doesn't disappoint, though I hankered to have had the extended version included rather than the short.

The inclusion of the material from the 'Concert For Bangladesh' soundtrack was a master stroke; live and therefore different, and in the matter of giving us two of Harrison's three awesome Beatle's numbers included, 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' and 'Something', inspired in maintaining the Beatle connection but framing George, the individual as well. ('Here Comes the Sun' figures as live too: a wonderfully raw yet delicate version with backing choir of children?)

The remaining material from Harrison's other solo records and his period with the Wilberries, conclude a very thoughtful and well rounded collection. The distinctiveness of his sound is now (mid 80s/90s) just that: vocal renditions with the Wilberries almost sound unfamiliar: a new George voice, which I hadn't noticed before. The prevalent, indeed hallmark/trademark use of wailing slide guitar from the late Beatles era (that I associate with 'For You Blue' on Let it Be - not here) and ATMP, extrapolates through much of his later work. If I'm not mistaken (could easily be), many of the lead breaks in some numbers are slide-guitar? My knowledge falls, lemming-like, over the cliff face). The lyrics remain, as always, thoughtful wording about ideas, feelings, impressions, and beliefs to think about and arrangements and phrasings to appreciate and enjoy. The mournful 'Isn't a Pity' concludes the collection - and reminds me always of the 'My Sweet Lord' 45 I inherited from my brother; if I'm not mistaken, 'Pity' was the 'B' side of that - and this must rank as one of the most beautifully sorrowful, engaging slow-moving pop tunes of all time. Sad, meaningful, but in no way a monotonous dirge, it mellows along, sinking, soaring and swooning with superb orchestral and guitar segments (waves rolling up and out on a beach, surf-like), the music onomatopoeic of the song's lyric. My only other minor disappointment: the absence of 'Dark Horse' - the title track from the 70s album I bought and loved "all those years ago". The song still figures prominently in the interior monologue musical replay part of my brain. Its inclusion might have made a suitable (definitely appropriate, personality theme-wise) twentieth track.

My apologies for the length of this review: rather defeats the purpose really, that and the fact I haven't made enough reference to specific tracks (the CD is in my car an unavailable just now). Nevertheless, and in Nirvanaesque sentiment, 'nevermind'. I hope there is something here that conveys my love of the album, Harrison's musicianship which it demonstrates and catalogues, together with his awesome and admirable humanity as an individual and artist...and for you to be inspired to have a listen to it, or some of it, if not to go ahead and purchase it (or, alternatively, be put off buying it? No point in purchasing something others' views suggest you wouldn't like or enjoy!). The price too, after all, is damn good (a real bargain) - given the quality of the music and 'material packaging': quality design, photography and information booklet with lyrics. 'Let it Roll: Songs of George Harrison' - let it roll around [in] your life sometime soon.
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