7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Extra Texture (Audio CD)
OK this is where it gets more difficult. They never set exams like this at school. Like asking a Beatles fan to defend a frankly mediocre George Harrison record. Blimey. All right, here goes. First of all it must be said that this album is probably among the weakest Beatles solo albums, at least from the 1970s when they still mattered to people. Non fanatics should tread carefully here. And probably not beyond the superb opening track. This track 'You' was actually written for another artist, Ronnie Spector four years earlier in 1971 and is so upbeat and out of character with the depressing tone of most of the rest of the album that it's not even funny. The lyrics admittedly consist of George singing variations of 'I Love You' and 'You Love Me' about 20 times but the music is joyous and triumphant and for once here at least the horns of Tom Scott et al are used to great effect. Not unsurpisingly this was the only song from this album to feature on any George Harrison compilation. Anywhere. It is brilliant.
And now to the rest of the album. Well, firstly it must be admitted that on this album George, for some reason unknown to me, displays virtually none of his masterful guitar talent, slide or otherwise. This had been a crucial feature of his first two solo albums, particularly the second. But we had seen this trend starting with the previous album 'Dark Horse' and regrettably there is even less here.
And so the songwriting is the only thing left to rescue the album. At best the standard here could be descibed as hit and miss. In an uncharitable mood it could be described as depressive, lacking in any humour (apart from one track), virtually melody free and with lyrics so simple and repetitive at times that you could be forgiven for thinking they had been written in a kindergarten. It hurts me to say this. And there were thankfully to be several returns to form in later years. But this record, Oh Boy, is it hard to justify.
At least the second track 'The Answers's At The End' is a positive moment of sorts. It contains probably the best lyric on the album with its great line 'Scan not a friend with a microscopic glass....you know his faults now let his foibles pass.' And with a passable tune too. The next track 'This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying') immediately invites comparisons to that White Album George classic. With horrendous results. At least when he recorded the follow up to 'Here Comes The Sun' with 'Here Comes The Moon' four years later in 1979 the latter, although obviously inferior, did at least feature a seductive melody and positive lyric. Here the follow up is just unmemorable and uninspring in all respects unfortunately. The next track 'Ooh Baby'is so embarrassingly weak that even George himself left it out of his 'I Me Mine' book which contained commentary on all his songs to that point (1979). The last track of Side One is 'World Of Stone' is quite tuneful but painfully slow and depressing all the same.
So will Side 2 (of the vinyl record) provide us with any relief? We start off with a brief instrumental reprise of 'You' which is of course fine and then we come to 'Can't Stop Thinking About You'. Which again is quite a nice tune but here we have the title repeated no less than 28 times. And to think, people criticise Paul McCartney for his lyrics. I don't think he ever reached such pits. The next 'Tired Of Midnight Blue' is a Good Song, though amidst the company here it is pretty easy to be misled. Quite good shall we say. 'Grey Cloudy Lies' finds George unusually writing a song on the piano! But it suffers from the mood of chronic depression that pervades most of this album.
At least the last track has some considerable merit, with its Pythonesque 'Everything Is Dinky Doo' lyric and upbeat tune.
Unfortunately taken as a whole this is a hard album even for George fans to listen to due mainly to the absence of the uplifting spirit and sublime guitar that dominate his best work. George himself descibes this period as 'depressing'. For, despite having met by this time Olivia, with whom he would share such a happy second marriage, his artistic confidence in his own ability seems to be at an all time low. It is an album I rarely return to. But that is not to say Never. It is still a product of Geroge Harrison and so by definition has some redeeming features. These few include the first and last track and are the reason I have refrained from giving this album 2 instead of 3 stars. But it's so goddamn depressing. The lyric which would sum up the mood of this album is from 'Grey Cloudy Lies' : 'Now I only wanna be...with no pistol at my brain'. Not the George we like to remember particularly.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 18 Sep 2008 12:25:47 BDT
M. G. Abbott says:
A painfully honest review from Mr Heaton proving he is capable of objectivity despite his clear love of all things Beatles.
Posted on 10 Dec 2008 12:17:21 GMT
C. Davis says:
....harsh but true. I would add, however, that "Tired of Midnight Blue" and "the Answer's at the End" are excellent songs. "World of Stone" and "His Name is Legs" are, to me the nadir of this album. I would, however, unlike John, defend "Grey Cloudy Lies" - the last song on side 2 (that comment ages me) - yes, it is depressing (in the year preceding the release of Extra Texture, George's wife had left him for Eric Clapton, his previous album, Dark Horse, had been panned and his US tour was "judged" to be a critical failure) and so what! Life isn't all roses! The song is a good depressing song - I know that during my angst filled adolesence, if I felt low the song I would most want to hear would be "Grey Cloudy Lies" and it would, in a perverse way, pick me up!
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Feb 2009 19:05:36 GMT
John Heaton says:
Well maybe....but with a lyric "I only wanna be....with no pistol at my brain" hardly reduces any suicidal feelings that may be lingering. John did this sort of thin better in my opinion. George's best work is in my opinion of the uplifting variety like Here Comes The Sun, All Things Must Pass and the entire self titled 1979 album. But there are exceptions of course such as While My Guitar of course and 'Deep Blue' that forgotten B side of the Bangla Desh single from 1971.
In reply to an earlier post on 26 Sep 2009 18:44:27 BDT
Mister Kite says:
Agree that George did sorrow extremely well - Deep Blue and Guitar Weeps.... were both songs that expressed sorrow, the ability to still feel emotion, although a very sad one. Extra Texture has more of a ring of depression about it I feel - not much feeling in there at all really. Yes, life events had caught up with George at this point, and the darkest hour was just before the dawn - Olivia's arrival and a son not long after would help turn his life around completely. I rank this as George's 'worst' album ( certainly least played by me) , but then who would prefer this album to have never been released? Of course, no Beatles fan would. And it does have the sublimely happy 'You' in there!
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Dec 2009 21:05:48 GMT
John Heaton says:
I agree heartily...we can criticise Beatles solo albums...but there is always something there in everyo one....apart from a couple maybe like Two Virgins and Electronic Sounds but that's about all the trash there is :-)
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Aug 2010 21:48:55 BDT
Mr. P. Curtis says:
I find it funny how people like to intellectualise the lyrics of songs. It was I believe Dylan who said that neither the melody nor the words are the key - the key is the overall sound, of which the melody and words form a part. I have always liked the sound of this album - I have melancholic tendencies and markedly prefer minor to major so this suits me fine.
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