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Aural Pleasure Review

George Harrison: 'Early Takes, Vol. 1'

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This companion piece to Martin Scorsese's superb documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World is a raw, minimalist collection of post-Beatles unreleased early demos by the quiet Beatle who passed away in 2001. His velvety voice, subtle (and so underrated) guitar work, and often beyond-this-world choice of subject matter makes this a lot more than a simple demos album. The naked, acoustic guitar-bass-drum and Hare Krishna-less version of "My Sweet Lord" opens the album, which includes a Krishna-with take one of "Awaiting You All," badly overproduced the first time by (who else?) Phil Spector on All Things Must Pass. That's about the worst thing you can say about Harrison as a solo artist: he sometimes allowed others to unnecessarily decorate his songs. But as a songwriter and performer of other people's songs (Bob Dylan's "Mama You've Been on My Mind" and the Everly Brothers' "Let It Be Me" are two standouts here) he was as good as a songwriter can get. If Harrison's solo albums never hooked you (what's wrong with you?), get this one and give another chance to one of the great composers in the history of rock.

★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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