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A Review by Hitachi Francis
Overall this is a magnificent George album, sounding like a cross between Cloud Nine and Wilbury's for the most part and when it doesn't sound like that it really goes up an extra notch,. When it sounds like George in 1976-83 ("Stuck Inside A Cloud") it really takes me back to a particularly warm place in my memory.
"Give me plenty of that guitar" says George and we're off into George's latest platter. And that statement pretty much sums up the whole CD. The opening track was debuted a few years back on a VH-1 special but this studio rendition hits it for six. Despite being a note for note steal of a Dylan Wilbury song it's still got George's stamp all over it. Great Dylanish lyrics with a hint of spirituality plus wonderful acoustic & slide guitars. Nice uke too.
P2 Vatican Blues (Last Saturday Night)
Now this is what I call fun! Tongue firmly in cheek (or is it?) George gives us his take on the catholic religion and remember George was brought up a Catholic (until he discovered India). There's a lot more here than meets the ear I reckon. Musically it's a blast kinda electric folky blues and unlike anything we've really heard from George before. Would like to hear more material in this vein.
Kinda like a slowed down Wilbury song with those trademark Keltner drums. Probably a bit long and wordy. It basically tells a tale of a day in the life through George's eyes. Anyone notice the "Come Together" part? Travels along at the same mundane pace throughout without going anywhere interesting. Nice but you're not missing out too much if you never here it.
Looking For My Life
A bit like "Blow Away" which is a good thing. Nice intro leads into a late 70's era style of song. As the title suggests, it's George repenting somewhat to his loved ones and his God. Unfortunately one of the few songs without any major slide guitar which I think would have been a bonus. Lovely acoustic guitars. One of me faves.
Ukulele and slide ..... what a nice combo. Shame Jeff has turned this into a "Son of When We Was Fab" . Because of this it would have been in good company on "Cloud Nine" Lots of interesting lyrics regarding Technology Vs. Religion. Don't know if this has anything to do with Japan? Or about Dhani for that matter. Quite nice but not destined for a desert island.
A stunning slide guitar instrumental. Would have been at home on the 1979 "George Harrison" LP. Gorgeous percussion lets the autoharp & slide guitars float through your mind. Could get brainwashed by this everyday. Nice, almost hidden, "Within you, Without You" licks. Beautiful subtle harp (or is that a keyboard?). A sublime journey for the senses. Sums up George perfectly. Perfect for relaxing in your garden.
Stuck Inside A Cloud
A classic Harrisong. The standout track for my money. Worth the price of the CD alone. Poignant lyrics and some of his best ever slide. Plus it's damn catchy to boot. This is the song that will bring a tear to your eye. George sums up his frustration of the inevitable and his devoted love of his family, friends and God. Few artists have left us with such a great song as this. A suitable postcard to an incredible performer and person. We'll miss you Hari.
Run So Far
Previously given to and recorded in the 80's by Eric Clapton. This song is standard George fare that would have fitted nicely on "Cloud Nine". Nothing to write home about. Another song about frustration.
Never Get Over You
Basically a slow version of the rare track "Mo". now "Mo" is a classic and this track, despite being taken at a snails pace, is also memorable with some fantastic slide playing (could George ever play bad slide?) The middle eight possibly is a bit out of place. Would have been okay on "Extra Texture" pace wise but would have fitted nicely on anything from 1976-1983. Probably was written in that era too.
Between The Devil & the Deep Blue Sea
First seen & heard in a Jools Holland TV special back in 1991, this is the exact same track although remixed quite differently. I could take a whole album's worth of this material. There must be enough demos for a whole ukulele CD? So laid back and quirky - it typifies George's relaxed way of life. Beautifully sung and aided and abetted by Joe, Jools & company. A standout. I gotta get me a ukulele!
Rocking Chair In Hawaii
This is probably the one track that just doesn't seem to belong on the album. It sounds like a rough demo at best and George's voice seems very tired or is that a bad Dylan impression? Maybe this was one of the last recordings he made? Just too demolish sounding with this sort of company. Though it is growing on me. Maybe it's just that I haven't heard George do anything quite like this before.
Here comes those Wilbury's again! And that bloody Jeff Lynne patented riff plus, is it only me that thinks this is very similar to Dylan's "Everything Is Broken"?? Basically this is a song that has George's view on just about everything. I'm sure he probably even considered calling the album "Bullshit Avenue" That unique dry Harrison humour makes this the most interesting song on the CD. Could that be Ringo in the "God, God, God" chant? The incredible Indian middle eight was a stroke of pure genius. And throwing in a Krishna mantra at the end, chanted beautifully by George, is no doubt George's way to say thanks and goodbye. Goodbye George and thanks for the ride.