Fresh Cuts: George Harrison
A great part of the immense energy and appeal of the Beatles as a group was generated by their unique and active chemistry; each balanced the others in personality, scope, and talent.
Apart, the Beatles have by degrees sacrificed their effective link with each other in favor of freedom. Resultingly, John Lennon, always the most brilliant, has lost motivation and direction; Paul McCartney, intelligent guidance; and Ringo Starr, the environment of real talent.
George Harrison has suffered no less than the others. Unfulfilled in his ardent religiosity, Harrison has (on record) turned to more commercial considerations.
Harrison is now a happy man, and he wants us to know it. On his new album George Harrison, the ex-Beatle reveals the latest secret to his happiness: George is floating on the blissful cloud of universal love. On “Love Comes to Everyone” he tells us that “it's so true it can happen to you all…. And it only takes time ’til love comes to everyone.”
The mere title of the record is enough to give one the impression that the artist is looking for a new beginning. His doctrine has shifted from complacent acceptance of Krishna to blind faith in the power of universal love. The vast majority of the songs on George Harrison (e.g. “Blow Away,” “If You Believe,” “Soft Touch”) are listless paeans to numb, ersatz passion, with music to match. “Here Comes the Moon” promises more, but delivers only a contrived reworking of the arpeggio from “Here Comes the Sun” over what amounts to no less than muzak.
With the Beatles, George never suffered so much as he does now from the inability to write an interesting melody. Only “Soft-Hearted Hanna” is of more than minimal interest and that in its concern with escape through drugs highlighting the need for a similar escape fundamental to the love songs. This track also features Harrison's competent (formerly brilliant) slide guitar technique and some rather oblique lyrics. The rest of the album, unfortunately, is completely dispensable, listless in its boredom and vapidity.
George Harrison is an obvious and cliched record. It is also painful proof that Harrison needs the Beatles—needs Ringo's lightness to balance his darkness, Paul's glib melodicism to balance his droning, John's intelligence and cynicism to balance his random preachiness. Without them he is lost.
Close to a decade after the final work of the Beatles, the release of George Harrison has made it obvious exactly how long ten years is.
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First published in the alternative weekly Fresh Fruit (March 7, 1979)