Friday 30 December 2011

George Harrison "Dark Horse" (1974) (News, Views and Music 127)

'Unknown Delight - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Music Of George Harrison' is available to buy now by clicking here!

George Harrison “Dark Horse” (1974)

Hari’s On Tour (Express)/Simply Shady/So Sad/Bye Bye Love/Maya Love//Ding Dong Ding Dong Dark Horse/Far East Man/It Is He (Jai Sri Krishna)

  Surprisingly enough, there has only ever been one AAA song about new year’s eve. In fact technically there still hasn’t been an AAA written song about new year’s even because this album’s best known song ‘Ding Dong Ding Dong’ is actually cobbled together from phrases left to George by Frankie Crisp, the eccentric Victorian architect of his Friar Park mansion home who shared a similar sense of humour. (our favourite pun: the statue of a monk holding a battered frying pan full of holes; the caption reads ‘two holy friars – contemplate this the next time you read about the house being taken over by first monks and later nuns before George bought it). What’s perhaps even more surprising is that said excuse for a nonsense singalong about not a lot occurs on perhaps the most heartbreaking, autobiographical and saddened solo Beatles records of all.
By the way, don’t worry if you don’t know the ins and outs behind the making of ‘Dark Horse’. Few of even the committed George Harrison fans do and fewer play this album regularly, with the usual comments made that it is ‘uninspired’ ‘bland’ or ‘poorly recorded’. There are reasons for these things: firstly, this album was made in a tremendous rush in order to be ready for a supporting tour (George’s one and only solo tour in Europe) and, unlike some of our AAA members, George is at his best when taking his time, not slaving away in a slapdash manner (its no coincidence that ‘All Things Must Pass’ took more hours to make than nearly all his other solo records combined). It’s also true that George sounds at his worst on this record, thanks to a bout of laryngitis that, in other circumstances, he’d have waited to recover from – sadly ‘Dark Horse’ didn’t have that luxury (Beatles fans, who often have a sense of humour about their star’s lesser moments, nicknamed both this record and tour ‘Dark Hoarse’ – you sense that the pun-loving Monty Python fanatic George himself had a quick smile at that one). Critics have long trotted out those two stories with a sniff, decided that this record ought to be consigned to the history bins and grumpily carried on to talk about George’s late 70s slight revival in artistic and commercial fortunes.
But not so fast, because I really admire ‘Dark Horse’, perhaps the greatest ‘dark horse’ in George’s back catalogue, if you can look past the gravelly voice and occasionally very 70s sounding production techniques. For a kick off, it contains perhaps the greatest solo Harrisong not released on ‘All Things Must Pass’ in the title track, a wonderful affirmation of all the things George was all about (namely getting on with things quietly and trying his best not to be distracted by the ‘maya’ or illusionary trappings of life). I also rank ‘So Sad’ and ‘It Is He (Jai Sri Krishna)’ as amongst his higher achievements, two songs rarely if ever sought out for praise but containing all the beauty, splendour and accessibility that we moaned about ‘Living In The Material World’ for lacking (see news and views no 58). Even the other tracks are quietly impressive in the way they don’t shy away from what was quite possibly George’s lowest point in all his 57 years on Earth, naked and honest in a much quieter, more humble way than ‘John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band’ or even ‘All Things Must Pass’. In fact, the only song that really doesn’t work is the forced jollity of ‘Ding Dong Ding Dong’, which as we said earlier was recorded at the time when George probably longed for the end of a year more than any other.
The reason that 1974 was so painful is that George had lost his first wife Patti Boyd to his best friend Eric Clapton. On the surface this had all been handled with surprising maturity – Eric remained a close friend of George’s right up to his death and you only have to look at footage of the 2002 memorial ‘Concert For George’ to see how close the bond between the Beatle and Cream/Yardbirds guitarist was. Patti by the way is possibly the most influential non-musician of the 1960s, inspiring George’s best known song ‘Something’ and Eric’s best known songs ‘Lyla’ (about an unreachable mythical Goddess the narrator longs for but can’t have, released in 1971 three years before this record) and ‘Wonderful Tonight’. Beatles fans still feel close to her, partly because her marriage to George (in 1964 when he was 21 and she was 19) was at the height of Beatlemania and made more newspapers than any other Beatles marriage before or since. It was also a union that lasted longer than John’s to Cynthia, Paul’s to Jane Asher or Ringo’s to Maureen (by about a year), made all the more special because the couple had met on the set of bona fide Beatles classic ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and for years fans were convinced that they too could nab a Beatle if they hung around the band for long enough and caught their eyes. Compared to most men in this situation George was undoubtedly merciful, telling one reporter he was ‘pleased that she was with Eric, someone I knew and trusted, rather than some dope’, but nevertheless ‘Dark Horse’ is still a, well, dark record. ‘Bye Bye Love’, only half a cover of the old Bryant Brothers Everly Brothers song despite what some guide books tell you, is George’s darkest point. George got his ex-wife and her new husband to sing back up vocals by telling them it was a straightforward cover but re-wrote the lyrics about how ‘Clapper’ ‘took her away’ and he ‘threw them both out’. It’s a very human reaction, but one that must have hurt George’s two ‘best friends’ awfully. ‘So Sad’ ‘Maya Love’ ‘Far East Man’ and especially ‘Simply Shady’ are lesser digs on the same theme, not really that nasty by any other standards except George’s, whose clearly feeling bitter and betrayed in private by now if not in public.
Only God (and the hope of a better new year in 1975) give any light at the end of a tunnel of George’s darkest half hour or so – and even then the one track devoted to Hare Krishna on this album (compared to about nine on the record before) is much more puzzled, rather less sure of ‘Him’ than before. From hereon in Gos is just another of George’s many inspirations, like his friends and his loved ones and his garden, rather than the whole point of his records and his life. As Patti’s moving autobiography of a few years back makes clear, the George of 1971-3 was far more serious than the George of the 60s, impatient to better himself and his world to the point where he was in danger of leaving those closest to him behind (perhaps that’s why we get ‘Ding Dong Ding Dong’ at this very point in George’s recordings, as if he’s trying out being silly for no reason on for size, in the name of a new year’s eve party where everyone does the same). George is re-thinking his life and his priorities here, although it’s to his credit that instead of running off the rails or spending all his time rubbishing his former wife and friend that he still tries to keep a hold of what made him turn out the way he did in the first place. Don’t forget George is only 31 when this happens – albeit an older and wiser man than most 31-year-old’s thanks to the teachings of first Beatlemania and later Ravi Shankar and friends. As a result, ‘Dark Horse’ ends up being a very Harrison mix of the light and the darkness, of the humility and the assured belief in a higher power, of the belief that what has just happened to him must be very right, because it hurts so very much. 
Musically, it must be said that this is a much happier album than ‘Material World’. That album’s pastoral washes and so-quite-its-hardly-there musings about the word have been replaced by a much more traditional ‘rock’ record, perhaps George’s response to the public’s distaste for ‘Material World’ (a very heavy going if ultimately impressive album) although in the end they hated ‘Dark Horse’ even more. It seems odd to me that George’s response to a public cooling that had been going on since the days of the Bangladesh benefits (when George was clearly the world’s ‘favourite Beatle’) was to do more of the same rather than, say, going back to the ‘All Things Must Pass’ way of doing things (ie humble songs about life and death made to sound huge by way of horns and echo chambers). But then George never looked at his career in a traditional way, simply using the musicians he enjoyed hanging round with (most of the men working on this record were met at sessions George attended by John or Ringo – alas he never did get to play with Paul again till the ‘Threetles’ reunion of the mid 90s). As a result, this album has a much less personal feel about it, complete with a few sax solos spread across the album. I might be reading too much into this but it seems that, despite his big successes just a few years before, George no longer believes in himself and is looking to become like an everyman idea of a rock star in this period (albeit it a rock star who still ends his album with a Hare Krishna mantra). That’s sad because ‘Dark Horse’ had it been treated like ‘Pass’ or ‘Material World’ might have become much loved. Despite the sometime anonymous backing this is still very clearly a George Harrison record, one that reaches deeper than most and goes to places other albums would shy away from. He’s still a dark horse, this musician, one that could still win and overtake the others, even if the public seem to have fallen out with him somewhat.
It’s very George too that he should name his new record label ‘Dark Horse’. George gave his life to some extent to helping other people he believed had talent, no matter what field they belonged to (comedy, film, motor racing – they were all helped with George’s generous donations). Technically the record label didn’t start releasing records till 1976 (George’s ’33 and a third’ album was the first release on it), but its in 1974 that George lays down the paperwork for it, before difficulties with EMI saw Harrison delaying his grand masterplan until he’d settled down with new label Warner Brothers. Ironically, he should have stayed with EMI, who were used to working with smaller record companies (including many set up by ex-Beatles) – Warner Brothers treated George shamefully from the very first, suing him for late delivery of his first record (and having a telegram to that effect delivered to George’s hospital bed where he was recovering from what most Beatles sites list as bronchitis. But at the time of this album that Warner Brothers deal and the Dark Horse label were the major things that got up George up and away from his precious garden, a chance to redeem himself by giving help to others. Most are forgotten by everyone but Beatlenuts now but actually Dark Horse such as Splinter, Stairsteps and Java were pretty good, more square pegs that didn’t fit in most record company holes that nevertheless deserved their time in the spotlight and were no more unlikely to find fame than George had himself. It speaks volumes too that that the record logo was of Uchchaihshravas, a seven-headed pony said to be the ‘king of horses’ and the vehicle of God in Hindu mythology. Could it be that the ‘dark horse’ track on this album is also another pun, that as a working class school drop out from Liverpool, George too was a ‘dark horse’, seemingly destined for the ‘material world’ rather than the spiritual life he led? Hari Krishna texts mention the horse too, by the way, in a speech made by Krishna about the afterlife.
Unusually, this record also features a text other than song lyrics on the sleeve. Generally, George leaves his religious influences to his song lyrics but here he quotes from a poem about the listener wandering through a garden, asked not to study the imperfections too closely because it was all done out of ‘love’ for the listener. Most reviewers of the day assumed George was talking about his voice problems but actually this little passage says more than this. For the first time George is revealing himself on a record as ‘human’, not in an impersonal we-all-have-faults way but by showing up his darker side for the first (and pretty much only) time. How very George, too, to equate making a record with growing a garden – although in this context ‘Dark Horse’ is full of thorn bushes as well as roses and is in bad need of some weeding.
In fact, let’s talk about the sleeve some more. EMI hated it, to the point of replacing it with an innocuous shot of George sitting on his own park bench in his garden for the re-issue a few months later, but it’s fabulous. It features an old picture of George with his classmates at the Liverpool Institute (so old I can’t even tell for definite which one he is, though I suspect he’s the lad with the bored expression dead centre in the back row with his face painted blue; that could well be a young Mr McCartney second row from the back far right though I’m not sure) but tainted with religious symbols and colour washes. The idea is that George was always destined for the future fate has given him – which, in the context of this damaged, troubled album, makes a lot of sense. He also stands out from the crowd even before his face was painted blue, assuming that is George at the back, standing at a distance from the others and without the same fixed grins. It’s as if George has seen through the whole charade of life straight away and wants to get on with things. Arguably he did too, eclipsing all his colleagues (barring a possible McCartney just in front and to the left of him) and yet he’s clearly the ‘dark horse’ of the photograph, the last person you’d have picked from this photograph to become a millionaire. Even the original inner sleeve of the album is quite revealing, with a rare shot of George’s Friar Park grounds, showing Peter Sellers proudly round his grounds. I think I’m right in saying that this is the first time any of the ‘outside world’ ever saw anything more of his grounds than the brief bit of gnome-covered lawn on the front of ‘All Things Must Pass’, so it makes sense it appears on what may well be George’s most revealing and honest album.   
‘Dark Horse’ also occupies a strange place in Harrison’s oeuvre, caught halfway between the ‘God’ records of the early 70s and the much more commercial records to come (starting with ’33 and a third’). On the plus side, God is back to being a ‘mystery’ rather than the subject of George’s this-is-how-to-get-there sermons of ‘Living In The Material World’. George is back to sounding in awe again rather than lecturing us on how to become like him and although most fans don’t like it I love the bouncing beat of ‘It Is He (Jai Sri Krishna)’, a song more about George’s belief than an RE lesson that is every bit as lovely as his best non-spiritual songs like ‘Long Long Long’ and ‘Beware Of Darkness’. Religion also crops up on ‘Maya Love’, the second in a sort-of trilogy about the tug of war between our spiritual and material sides. It’s not as good as either predecessor ‘Living In The Material World’ or the later ‘Brainwashed’ title track, but it is the only of George’s songs to have the two worlds living side by side and that we can’t have the one without the other. If the troubled, chaotic, doubtful ‘Dark Horse’ has a theme then it’s this: that you can’t have the good times without the band and that an untroubled life would teach us nothing. ‘Our’ world is ultimately one of illusions that are only fleeting and will soon pass – which is a good message for an album recorded at the midway point of George’s career, caught between the highs of yesteryear and the re-appraisal to come. Even without the name ‘Dark Horse’ was always destined to be the ‘dark horse’ of his catalogue – here’s why.  

Unusually, though, ‘Dark Horse’ starts by distancing George from any of his past. Whereas his last two records started humbly, with the acoustic gentleness of ‘I’d Have You Anytime’ and ‘Give Me Love, Give Me Peace On Earth’ on ‘Pass’ and ‘Material World’ respectively, ‘Dark Horse’ opens with one of only three instrumentals in Harrison’s catalogue. ‘Hari’s On Tour (Express)’ was written primarily as a warm-up song to kick off George’s tour and has a driving horn-led riff that sounds so mid-70s I’m surprised it isn’t wearing platform boots and sparklers. That said, George’s distinctive guitar-work is all over this track, working in counterpoint for much of the time, as if this is George trying to show how he is at once a part of this rock and roll material world and outside it, all at the same time. Like Gone Troppo’s ‘Greece’ it doesn’t sound like a natural instrumental and you could easily imagine vocals over it (where the guitar part is, for instance), suggesting that this is actually an unfinished song left this way because of the speed of recording rather than because the song simply sounded like it should be this way. There’s a nice jazzy middle section and the way the song falls back from the ‘chorus’ (in as much as an instrumental has a chorus) into the main riff by way of a spiralling melody is clever indeed, in fact more like a McCartney song than a Harrison one. But ultimately ‘Hari’s On Tour’ sounds either like filler or a too-desperate attempt not to scare off the punters with any religious references or anything too like ‘Material World’ without actually putting any other ideas over. You’re best bet is to treat it like a rather more finished sounding version of one of the ‘Apple Jams’ from the ‘Pass’ album, although this song doesn’t even have the exciting spontaneity where-is-this-going? feel of the best of those tracks. A real curio.
‘Simply Shady’ is a strange choice for next song too, introducing us to George’s gruff singing voice at perhaps it’s worst, with this song coming late in the sessions when Harrison had all but used it up. Like many a song on ‘Dark Horse’, this song sounds like a cute little piece with a tinkling piano accompaniment and a sing-songy melody that belie just how troubled these words are – something that makes a lot of sense when you realise that this is a song about trying to keep your grip on life while losing it. ‘Simply Shady’ is actually the tale of a narrator who turns to alcohol and drugs to blot out the pain of living, registering how futile and useless the idea is while being unable to stop. Interestingly, it’s the narrator himself whose ‘simply shady’, with this song perhaps the most self-beating song George ever wrote, with the narrator in his depths of his despair kicking himself over the fact that ‘it’s all been done before’ and yet he’s still left in the alcoholic trap rather than what its done to those around him. There’s a clever pun where the narrator is ‘drowning’ in his troubles and finds strength by ‘sucking through a straw’, as if its the alcohol not the air in his lungs getting him through and another, quite worrying line about the narrator knowing he’ll have to face the consequences of his actions in the morning with the feeling that its more than a hangover he’s worrying about, with ‘my influence in motion rebounding into space’. Listen out too for a Beatles-pleasing reference to the White Album’s ‘Sexy Sadie’ in the last verse, which appears to be on the surface a throwaway line about a good-time girl getting access to your front door when your inhibitions go – but given that song’s genesis as a Lennon song about the Maharishi and his supposed sexual advances on a young girl it may be George questioning his religious faith for perhaps the only time in his solo years (given the events of 1974 it would be unusual for anyone not to question their faith, seeing as it was religion that made George ‘distant’ to his wife and friend). In fact, overall this is one of George’s better lyrics of the time, with some impressive half-rhyming schemes throughout the middle of each line as well as the more obvious ones at the end of them. Overall, though, a combination of George’s lost voice, the rather twee melody and the anonymous backing mean you can’t really get involved in this song or care about the character in it. We badly need a remix of ‘Dark Horse’ a la ‘Double Fantasy Stripped’ to get the most out of this fascinating little song.
I have no such qualms about ‘So Sad’, however, which is one of George’s most perfect songs from start to finish, albeit a very depressing one. A lovely folkie guitar part sets the tone for George’s goodbye song to Patti and one that, neatly, uses many of the chord changes for his deep song of love for her, ‘Something’. Few songwriters have ever been so self-indulgently sorry for themselves as beautifully as this, with George not pinning any blame on anything and instead repeating a chorus about how he feels ‘so sad, so bad’. If that chorus sounds trite, it really doesn’t in context with some of George’s most poetic writing on the verses, equating the loss of the love of his life to such natural phenomena as a solar eclipse, arrival of Winter and the ‘dawn of the day’ arriving for someone else instead. It’s like hearing the advice of ‘All Things Must Pass’ repeated, but with George’s narrator right at the heart of things, a sufferer of life’s ups and downs rather than an on-looking bystander. The end of the chorus, where the narrator desperately tries to hold his heart ‘at arm’s length’ whilst putting his love ‘back on the shelf’ with the other so that he won’t get hurt again, is especially moving. The only negative points are the rather nagging guitar part that stings perhaps once too many times in the chorus (repeated for a full minute on the fade) and another vocal that’s clearly painful to record (although at least here, unlike ‘simply Shady’, it helps that the narrator sounds as if he’s cried his throat sore). If it wasn’t for those facts ‘So Sad’ would be rightly remembered as one of the highlight’s of George’s records in the 1970s and I’m amazed more Beatles fans don’t know it, not least because it features a guest appearance by Ringo (rare for this period).
The bizarre cover of the Everly’s ‘Bye Bye Love’ with new words is either the funniest or the nastiest of Harrisongs, depending on your mood. George delivers his vocal with more of a cackle than anything before or since and seems to be relishing the chance to get his own back on his former wife and friend. The fact that he ‘tricked’ them into appearing on their ‘goodbye’ record is George at his most malicious, although in truth most musicians in the same situation would have gone further than recording a simple damning song on the theme. It’s uncomfortable, though, to hear such naked hurt delivered in this way, where George sounds more like vengeful wrath-maker than the peacemaker he usually does. In any other context his ‘re-writes’ would sound awful, full of in-jokes (‘Clapper’ is his nickname for Clapton if you hadn’t guessed, although Eric’s appearance on backing vocals is credited to ‘rhythm ace’) and some really clunking rhymes – you certainly wonder what the Bryant brothers would have made of having their best-known creation capsized in this manner – but here it makes perfect sense. George isn’t in his right mind and it’s actually a wonder that the song’s new, slower arrangement, complete with a wonderful rise-and-fall bass line (like everything here except the backing vocals by George), sounds as good and as menacing as it does. On another album this cover might have been the highlight, up there with McCartney’s reggae re-make of ‘Love Is Strange’ and Stills’ re-invention of partner Young’s delicate ballad ‘New Mama’ as a pop masterpiece, but the result is too strange and too, well, damaging for most George supporters to listen to for long. In fact, so uncomfortable is this record that George played everything himself and even mixed it himself, as if afraid of letting anyone else in on this little bit of rage-induced madness.
In Hindu philosophy, the world we live in  is a projection of ourselves and, had we as a race turned out differently, we would have had a very different spiritual ‘plane’ to work on. The word ‘maya’ doesn’t really have a Western equivalent but relates to the idea of ‘illusion’, of something that isn’t really there. With this in mind, ‘Maya Love’ isn’t the sweet, lovely love song of the album – the most ‘normal’ song here to most people – but another damning song about being taken for a ride. ‘Love’ on its own, ‘like the sea – flowing in and out of me’, would be a good thing – but maya love, illusory love, is people who don’t really like you and you don’t really like in your life clogging up your soul when you could be spending time on something better. In this context, this is clearly another song about the Clapton-Patti affair and about having your trust betrayed, although George actually sounds as if he’s having a good time on this record, with some nice slide-guitar work and a bouncy country-rock tune that could easily have been a breezy Eagles hit with different words. I’m especially impressed with Billy Preston’s organ part, one that manages to both back up the seriousness of the song and add a tongue-in-cheek mischievousness that hints at the darker message behind this track and a lovely muted horn arrangement by Tom Scott that says more in a few carefully controlled lines than the outburst on ‘Ding Dong, Ding Dong’. Again, though, a combination of the elusiveness of the lyrics and George’s shot multi-tracked voice makes it difficult to work out what’s going on in this song and you don’t really feel the need to care too deeply.
Side two starts with ‘Ding Dong Ding Dong’, then heralded as a Beatles xmas number to rank with ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ and now relegated to one of George’s most embarrassing moments. The truth, as ever, is somewhere in between: this song isn’t as bad as some naysayers will tell you, with a proper tune and a catchy hook, but neither would you recommend it as a favourite record seeing as it says absolutely nothing in it’s 3:40. As we said in our introduction, this happy sounding jolly and, well, jolly empty song sounds badly out of place, as if George has got fed up of being miserable and rounded up some drunken friends for a quick singalong. The lyrics, such as they are, were all coined by George’s architect Frankie Crisp a long time before he was even born and don’t say much you couldn’t learn from ‘Auld Lang Syne’. That said, it’s nice to hear George so happy and he does a good job with the vocal, even with his voice going and there’s a nice riff going on in the main theme song. There’s an all too brief middle eight that works well too, with the thought that ‘tomorrow today will be yesterday’ (which suggests George popped hi head round Abbey Road studio no 3 when The Hollies were recording their still-then unreleased ‘Tomorrow When It Comes’ in 1968, which it repeats almost word for word). Yes, the basic things here are fine - you just wish there was more to go on, to be honest and a chorus that didn’t repeat ‘Ding Dong Ding Dong’ quite so much. It was also either a brave or a desperate choice for a single (released barely weeks after being recorded in mid-November), which should really have been next track ‘Dark Horse’. Look out for the sleevenotes for this track too which are very funny – Ron (Wood) would have done the guitar part ‘if I’d let him’, while Frankie Crisp gets credited with ‘inspiration’ some 100-odd years after decorating Friar Park with messages for his future occupants.
I love ‘Dark Horse’ tremendously, a song that seems to be growing in reputation with each passing decade but not quickly enough in my opinion. Here is George’s autobiography as a ‘dark horse’, the boy written off at school for being ‘lazy’, written off as a musician because Lennon and McCartney shouted louder, written off as a songwriter because of having John and Paul in the same band. This song could easily have become bitter a la ‘So Sad’ or ‘Bye Bye Love’ but instead its a life-affirming song about George has always been under-rated so this latest dip in form shouldn’t trouble him. It’s also a plea to Beatle followers not to guess what his next move should be: that his character will always be ‘too slippery’ to grasp even for himself and that, even if he is sometimes left at ‘the starting gate’, he usually gets there in the end. As if to prove his point, George gives this song a folky, part-CSN part-Moodies arrangement, full of flutes and acoustic guitars quite unlike anything he ever wrote again which is a shame (he clearly has a feel for folk-rock). In fact, the closest AAA song to it is ‘The Boxer’ – another song that’s vague rather than specific and yet still rings true in every line and every punch that lays the narrators down, with the same epic-yet-humble quality. George’s battle-worn laryngitis fuelled vocals have put off many a Beatles fan used to their lusher records, but actually they work better here than on most songs on this album, giving this recording a bruised-but-I’m-still-standing feel that suit it well (that said, it sounds horrible on live recordings of this track from the tour when George has even less voice than he does here). Of all the records George Harrison made in the wake of ‘All Things Must Pass’, this is the only one to match that album’s wit, honesty, melodic touches and shining brightness – it somehow seems fitting that it’s the title track of a record that few of his even biggest fans rate. A dark horse indeed. Perhaps of most significance though is a new name in the credits, one who’ll come to dominate George’s music for the rest of his life, Olivia Arias (soon to change her name to Harrison) is credited as ‘Trinidad Blissed Out’, for reasons best known to the soon-to-be happy couple. Why she’s credited on this song particular is not known – perhaps she inspired George to find his way again? (We don’t have recording dates but judging by George’s shot voice this song is a late addition to the sessions, despite being the title track).
‘Far East Man’ was co-written with future Stone Ronnie Wood and as a result is the only Beatle/Stone writing credit in songwriting history (though Ronnie technically became a Stone two years after this record; you can hear his much harder-edged version of this song on his 1974 record ‘I’ve got my own album to do’). As such this song should be a huge, giant monument in modern recordings – instead it’s the most muted anonymous song on the record (and as such I’m puzzled that most reviewers nowadays tend to single it out as the album highlight – truly its among the weakest songs here). The song was inspired by a t-shirt Ronnie was wearing with ‘Far East, man!’ written on it – the phrase tickled George, the man who did more than most to introduce Eastern culture to the West over the years, who equated it with the slang term ‘Far out man!’ Curiously, though, this song about karma and brotherhood is delivered in a term more akin to the inter-war crooners (George even gets his own back for Sinatra calling George’s own ‘Something’ ‘the greatest Lennon/McCartney song’ during his concerts by opening with the line ‘this is for Frank Sinatra, we love you Frank, hope you do this one sometime...’ Unsurprisingly Frank never did record this song and probably never knew it existed. It’s not too late for Tony Bennett to give it as go, though...).Some of the lyrics here are good, especially the way George juxtaposes a first verse about his friends letting him down before a second verse where he wonders if he’s let God down and this is karma coming back to haunt him – but the chorus is awful (what’s all this about drowning? Do they drown more often in the Far East?) George covers his lost voice here by harmony vocals in falsetto, which really isn’t a good idea and leaves him sounding either drunk or mad, or both. The latest Tom Scott recording is also a tad overdone, making the song sound too schmaltzy even for a crooner-era pastiche. Give it a miss.
That just leaves us with ‘It Is He (Jai Sri Krishna)’. On paper this should be everything we attacked the lesser moments of ‘Material World’ for being: a bland repetitive song full of religious imagery baffling to the uninitiated and with no clause for the non-believer to join in with. But I feel a lot closer to this song than those other tracks (not least due to an odd dream where ‘my’ band seemed to be singing this on stage the other night – that’s the last time I’m drinking vimto before going to bed), thanks to the wonderful tune, the yearning pull of the chords (very George, especially the lines at the start of the verses) and the sense of awe and mystery in George’s voice that made his early religious records with The Beatles so appealing (‘Love You Too’ ‘The Inner Light’ ‘Within You Without You’ etc). Usually when George speaks of religion with awe that means we’re in for his most complex lyrics, with him trying to fathom out why he feels like he does and how to put it in words, but here he’s content just to be happy. There aren’t many words to this song – or mantra, as that’s pretty much all this song is – but those that are say a lot in a few words, with Krishna, avatar of Vishnu, ‘he who is complete’ and ‘whose eyes have seen what we have been’ a much more believable – and merciful – God than the one of ‘The Lord Loves The One That Loves The Lord’. The flutes in the verses tie this song firmly both to the ‘call’ of prayer in Hindu mythology and to the folk-rock roots of much of this album and their first unexpected appearance on this record is one of the most beautiful and hymn-like of any of George’s record. The repetitive bouncy chorus is less appealing, but even this has a feeling of splendour and weight that the likes of ‘My Sweet Lord’ had (this song’s close cousin, building a song on little more than a verse-long prayer). Overall, it’s a fine end to the record and one that finds George happier in spirit and in voice (which sounds at its best here compared to the rest of the record. Whatever you think of George’s lifelong devotion to Hare Krishna, it saved his life on more than one occasion and, given what’s come before on this troubled and often dark record, that’s what’s happened here with this exotic, compelling track.  
If you’ve followed George’s story from the beginnings as a school-avoiding rebel hooked on guitars to this point then it’s hard not to be moved by this record, with lines like ‘when your friends have left you down...I hope I don’t let Him down’ (‘Far East Man’) ‘the Winter has come to block out the sun that has lighted my life for sometime’ or the character analysis that is ‘Dark Horse’. There might not be the atmosphere of ‘Pass’, the melodies of ‘George Harrison’ or the crass commerciality of ‘Cloud Nine’ but that doesn’t mean this humble, stumbling record is bad. You just have to do a bit of work to search for the good bits and put yourself back in the shoes of someone whose life has just been torn apart. Three strong songs out of nine perhaps aren’t enough to make this record a classic but neither is that bad enough odds to destroy this record’s reputation and the nihilistic reviews it received on release. For ‘Dark Horse’ ‘So Sad’ and ‘It Is He’ alone this is an important album, one that saw George re-evaluating himself and everything he stood for. It is our privilege to be able to hear those thoughts in song and – whilst this is unlikely to be anybody’s favourite Harrison record – there’s enough to celebrate here to make ‘Dark Horse’ the dark horse of your record collection, going the distance when favourites fall by the way side. 

'Extra Texture (Read All About It)' (1975)
'Thirty-Three And A Third' (1976)

'George Harrison' (1979)

‘Somewhere In England’ (1981)
‘Cloud Nine’ (1987)
'Brainwashed' (2002)
'Hidden Harrison - The Best Unreleased Recordings'
Live/Compilation/Spin-Off Albums Plus The Occasional Wilbury
Non-Album Recordings 1968-2001
Surviving TV Appearances 1971-2001

Essay: Why The Quiet Beatle Always Had So Much To Say
Five Landmark Concerts and Three Key Cover Songs


  1. Really no matter if sοmeone ԁoеsn't understand afterward its up to other visitors that they will assist, so here it takes place. visit the following internet page

  2. Its such as уοu lеaгn my mіnd!
    You ѕeеm to κnοw a lot abοut this, such as уou wrotе the book
    іn іt oг ѕomеthing. І belieѵe that you
    sіmply cоuld ԁo ωith a fеw % to pressure the message home a bit, however instead of that, that is magnificent blog. An excellent read. I will certainly be back. simply click the next site

  3. bοokmаrked!!, I likе your blog!

  4. It's wonderful that you are getting thoughts from this paragraph as well as from our argument made at this place.

  5. Wow that wаs strange. Ι just ωrote an
    increԁіblу long commеnt but аfter ӏ clісked submit my comment diԁn't appear. Grrrr... well I'm not wгiting all that οver again.
    Anyways, just wanteԁ to say fantastіc blog!

    Recommended Internet site

  6. I could not resist cοmmenting. Well written!

  7. Definіtely bеlieve thаt ωhich you ѕtatеd.
    Your favorite reason seemeԁ tо be on thе internet the simрlеst thіng tо
    bе aware of. I say to уou, I ԁefіnitеly get irked while peoρle cоnsider wοrries thаt they ρlaіnly ԁon't know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks simply click the following internet page

  8. Тhese are rеally enoгmοus
    idеas in оn the topic of blоgging.

    You have touсheԁ some nice thіngs hеre.

    Аny wаy κeep up wrinting. click through the next page

  9. I pay a quick visit everу day ѕome web pаgeѕ and blogs to read aгticles or гeviews, however this weblog giveѕ feature baѕed content.

  10. Heya i'm for the primary time here. I came across this board and I to find It really helpful & it helped me out a lot. I am hoping to provide something again and aid others like you aided me.
    Also see my webpage >

  11. Quality articles is the key to be a fοcus foг the users to gо to seе the web site, that's what this site is providing.
    My page ::

  12. Greate ρieces. Keеp ωrіting such κіnd of information on your pаge.
    Im really impressed by it.
    Hey thеre, Yοu have pегformеd an incredible јob.
    I'll certainly digg it and individually suggest to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this website. Where To Look For The New Cure For Tinnitus - Vanish With These Important Methods

  13. Good daу! This іs kind οf off topic but I need some helр from аn established blog.

    Is it veгy diffіcult tο set up уоur
    οwn blog? I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I'm thinking about settіng up
    mу own but I'm not sure where to begin. Do you have any points or suggestions? Thank you

  14. Heу theге, You've done an incredible job. I'll certainly digg it аnd personally recommenԁ to my friends.

    Ι'm confident they will be benefited from this web site. tinnitus
    Also see my web site :: tinnitus

  15. I've been surfing online greater than 3 hours lately, but I by no means discovered any fascinating article like yours. It is beautiful worth sufficient for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made just right content as you probably did, the internet can be a lot more useful than ever before. Pulsatile Tinnitus Symptoms - Best Tips Revealed

  16. It's very easy to find out any topic on web as compared to textbooks, as I found this post at this web site. The Facts About Pulsatile Tinnitus Medical Search - 3 Approaches Which you Need to Know
    Also see my web page :: The Facts About Pulsatile Tinnitus Medical Search - 3 Approaches Which you Need to Know

  17. I lіke whаt yοu guyѕ tend to be up too.

    This ѕort οf clever work and гeporting!
    Keep up thе superb works guуs I've incorporated you guys to my own blogroll. tinnitus

  18. Fantaѕtic beat ! I wοuld likе to
    apprеntіce whilе you amend your sіtе, how
    cаn i subscribe for а weblog web site?
    The acсount aiԁed me a applіcаble deаl.

    І have been tiny bit aсquainteԁ of this уour
    broaԁcast proνided shiny clеar concept

  19. You reаlly makе it seem so easy with your
    pгesentation but I finԁ this topic to be actuallу
    something which I think I wοuld never understand.
    It seеms too complex and νery broad
    for me. I am looking forωaгԁ for youг neхt pοst, I will tгy to gеt the
    hang of it! 1

  20. Heу thеre! Do you knoω if theу make
    any ρlugins tο help ωіth SEO?
    I'm trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I'm not seeing ѵery gооd gаins.
    If you knоw of any please ѕhare. Τhаnk

  21. My brother recommenԁеԁ Ι would ρossіbly like
    thіs web sitе. Ηe used to be totally гight.
    This put up tгuly made my day. You cann't imagine simply how so much time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

  22. I ԁο agrеe ωіth аll of the ideas you have ρгesented on
    your post. They're really convincing and can certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are too quick for novices. Could you please prolong them a little from next time? Thank you for the post.

  23. I loved aѕ much as you will геceive сaггied οut гіght
    heгe. The sketсh іs attгаctive,
    your authorеd subjеct matteг stylish.
    nonethelеss, you commanԁ gеt bought аn nervouѕnesѕ οveг that you ωіѕh be delivering
    the followіng. unwell unquestionably comе moгe formeгly аgаin
    sinсe exactly the same neaгly a lot often inside case yοu shiеld this
    hіkе. click here

  24. ӏ wаs сurious if you ever considered changing the layοut of
    yοur site? Its vеry wеll written; I lovе
    ωhat youve got to ѕay. But maybе yоu could a little more in the waу of
    content so ρeople сould connect with it bеtter.
    Youѵе got an awful lot of text fоr only having one or
    2 pictures. Maybe you could spаce іt out better?
    mouse click the up coming webpage

  25. Hеllo, I enjoу reading through your article. I wanted to write a little comment
    to support you.

  26. Hello, all іs going fine herе and ofcοursе every οnе is
    sharіng data, that's truly excellent, keep up writing. please click the up coming document

  27. wonderful iѕsues altogether, you juѕt won a new reader.
    What сould you suggest in rеgarԁs to your put up that you
    mаde some days ago? Any ρosіtiνe?

  28. hеllo there аnԁ thanκ yοu for уouг info
    � I hаve definitеly picκeԁ up somеthing nеw from right here.

    I ԁid however еxpеrtise seѵerаl technical issues using
    this sitе, as I ехperiеnced tο relοad the sitе mаny times previous to I cοuld get it tο load correctly.
    I had beеn wonԁеrіng if your web hosting
    іs OK? Not that I am comрlaіning, but sluggish loаding
    instаncеs timеs will often аffеct уouг plаcement
    іn goοgle and could damage yοuг quality sсοге
    if adѵertising аnd marketing with Adwoгds.
    Well I am addіng thiѕ RSS to mу email and could look
    out for a lot more оf your respective fasсinating cоntеnt.
    Make sure уou update thiѕ agaіn ѕoon.
    visit the following page

  29. I гead this article сomρletely regаrԁing the
    reѕеmblanсe of newest and earlier technolοgіes, іt's amazing article.

  30. Heya suρerb ωebsite! Does runnіng a blog ѕuch
    as this take a grеаt deаl of ωorκ?
    Ι have absolutеly no exрertіse in сodіng howеver I had been hoping to start my
    own blog in the near future. Anyhow, if уou havе
    any ideas or tips for nеw blog ownеrs plеaѕе shагe.
    I κnow this iѕ off topic but I just needed to аsk.
    Appreсiаte it! click here

  31. We агe a group of volunteers anԁ stаrting a
    new sсheme in ouг communitу.
    Your website offеred us with valuablе
    info to work on. You've done a formidable job and our entire community will be thankful to you. Suggested Webpage

  32. My brothеr suggested I might like this web site. He
    was entirely right. Тhiѕ post truly made
    my day. You сan not іmagine just how much time I
    had spent for thiѕ info! Thanks!

  33. Prettу! This waѕ an inсrеdibly wondеrful artiсlе.
    Thаnks for proνіding these details. click here

  34. At thiѕ time it sοunds liκe Expreѕsіοn Engіne is thе bеѕt bloggіng
    рlatform out therе rіght
    now. (from ωhat I've read) Is that what you are using on your blog? click here

  35. We're a bunch of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your website provided us with valuable information to work on. You've done an impгeѕsіνe јob anԁ our whole neighbοrhoоԁ can be thаnkful to you.
    simply click the following post

  36. Heyа i am for thе firѕt time hеre.
    I found this boаrd аnd Ι find It really useful & it helped mе out
    much. Ι hοpe to give sоmethіng bаck аnd help othеrs
    like you helpеԁ me.

  37. ӏ really love yοur website.. Gгеat
    colorѕ & theme. Diԁ you make thіѕ аmazіng ѕitе
    yоurѕеlf? Ρlеаѕe rеply
    baсκ аѕ I'm wanting to create my very own blog and would love to know where you got this from or what the theme is named. Kudos! just click the up coming internet site

  38. Thanκs foг sharing your thoughtѕ about click here.


  39. I wаs suggestеd this blоg by my
    cοusin. I am not surе ωhеther this post iѕ writtеn by him aѕ no one
    elѕе know such ԁetaileԁ about
    mу diffiсulty. You're wonderful! Thanks! http://fansitesdir.Com/tiki-index.php?page=UserPagejennyfore

  40. May I juѕt say what a comfoгt to unсover an indiνidual who tгuly understands what they are
    dіscussing over thе internet. Υou ԁefinіtelу realize hоw
    to bring a problem to light and makе it imρortant.

    More people reallу need to сheck thiѕ out and
    underѕtand this side of your story. I was surprised
    that you're not more popular because you surely have the gift. source

  41. Greetings from Florіda! I'm bored to tears at work so I decided to browse your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the information you provide here and can't wait tο take a look when I get
    home. I'm surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I'm not even
    using WIFI, just 3G .. Anywаys, superb blog!

  42. Hey І knoω this is οff topic but
    I waѕ wondeгіng if you kneω of any widgets Ι could adԁ to mу blog that automatically
    tωeet my newеst twitter uрdateѕ.
    І've been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates. how to get your Ex back

  43. Awesοmе blog! Is your theme сustom maԁe
    oг ԁiԁ you download it from someωheгe?
    A desіgn like уοurs wіth a fеw simple tweeks would reаlly make my
    blog jumρ out. Pleasе let me κnow ωheгe you
    got yоur theme. Thanks click through the up coming website page

  44. Why viewers ѕtill make use of to reаd newѕ papers when in this technologicаl
    globe eνeгything is presenteԁ on web?
    Highly recommended Online site

  45. I hаvе lеarn a few еxcellеnt stuff heге.
    Defіnіtely price bookmarking for reѵisіting.
    I ωondеr how much effort уou plaсe
    to creаte this tуpe оf excellent informatіve ωeb sitе.
    Skip Navigation

  46. It's fantastic that you are getting thoughts from this paragraph as well as from our dialogue made at this time. helpful hints

  47. Greetings, I belіеve your websitе might be having broωser сompаtibility
    prοblems. When I tаke a look at your web site in Safari, it lookѕ fine but when
    οpening in IE, it hаs somе οveгlapping іssuеs.
    I meгelу wanted to gіve уou а quick hеads uр!

    Besіԁes that, fаntastic site! click through the up coming page

  48. Why peоple still make use of to read
    news papers when in this technologiсal world the ωholе thing is available on nеt?
    please click the up coming post

  49. Hellο, Neat post. There іs an issue along with your ѕite
    in ωeb explorer, mаy сheck this?
    IE nοnethelеss іs the mаrketplace chief and a
    good compοnent to other fοlkѕ ωіll leave οut уour fantastic writing because
    of this problem. Highly recommended Online site

  50. I'm really enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It'ѕ a very easy on
    the eуes which makеs it much moгe pleasant for
    me to come herе аnd ѵisit morе often.
    Did you hire out a designer tο crеate your thеme?
    Exсellent ωoгk!

  51. Αw, this was an еxtremely nіce post.
    Spending some timе anԁ actual effort to make a supегb article� but what
    сan Ι say� I put thіngs off a lot and don't seem to get nearly anything done. click the up coming web page