Forgotten George Harrison gems from The Apple Years: Gimme Five

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News of a forthcoming multi-disc box set titled George Harrison: The Apple Years 1968-75 led to renewed praise for charttopping early-period solo moments like “My Sweet Lord” and “Give Me Love.” It’s perhaps understandable, since those are two of Harrison’s best-known songs apart from the Beatles.

It doesn’t mean they’re his best songs, though. In fact, there’s far more complexity to be found, even inside well-trod No. 1 albums like 1970’s All Things Must Pass and 1973’s Living in the Material World — to say nothing of lesser-celebrated moments like 1974’s Dark Horse. Harrison’s catalog, even more than a decade after his early passing, is widely underappeciated outside of the radio hits, a grievous thing.

Witness these five often-forgotten gems, each of them featured on George Harrison: The Apple Years 1968-75, due September 23, 2014 …

“I’D HAVE YOU ANYTIME,” (ALL THINGS MUST PASS, 1970): Every bit as moving as Abbey Road triumphs like “Something,” with a Beatle-ish guitar signature and a lyrical assist by Bob Dylan. I always thought “I’d Have You Anytime” was a gutsy opening song for such an enormous undertaking.

“DON’T LET ME WAIT TOO LONG,” (LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD, 1973): The original working title of this rather down-beat album was The Magic Is Here Again, a bit of an overpromise after his triple-album debut. Still, this is one of the times when Harrison’s long-awaited studio follow up approaches that kind of hyperbole. A masterpiece of coiled anticipation.

“SO SAD,” (DARK HORSE, 1974): Though part of a generally more uplifting effort, this track was an outtake from Material World, and it’s got the same elegiac tone. Considering that his wife had just ran off with his best friend, you’d think they’d all sound like this. Instead, elsewhere on Dark Horse, you have Patti Boyd and Eric Clapton singing back up on the Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love.” No kidding.

“BE HERE NOW, (LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD, 1973): This is the quiet, then soaringly meditative song George was trying to make with the Beatles on the White Album’s interminable “Long, Long, Long.” Featuring a drone played on the tanpura, the title comes from one of George’s favorite books by Baba Ram Dass. An enveloping moment of wonder.

“BEWARE OF DARKNESS,” (ALL THINGS MUST PASS, 1970): Harrison’s first, best album’s very best song — one where he perfectly matches a lyrical meditation on overcoming life’s harder moments (refusing to give into “the pain that often lingers”) with the sound, mysticism and fury of one of the early 1970s’ greatest amalgamations of sidemen. Originally opened side three of this post-Fab creative outburst.

NICK’S BONUS PICK: “Let It Down,” also from All Things Must Pass. Asked what he thought of his monumental debut during a remastering session 30 years later, Harrison simply said: “Too much echo.” That’s why we prefer the long-bootlegged demo, which first appeared in an early-1990s underground disc called Beware of ABKCO — and then as a bonus track on the redone edition of ATMP. The stripped-down version of “Let It Down” best illustrates how so much of Harrison’s pent-up songcraft instantly resonated, even as first drafts.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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