(This review of George Harrison’s 1975 album is edited from the review I originally wrote for my old Angelfire site, probably around 2007. One of the two worst, most horrifyingly embarrassing albums I’ve ever heard to date, the other being Duran Duran’s Liberty.)
I went into this album with a relatively open mind, knowing almost everyone finds it awful. When you’ve heard the worst, you’re not building up your expectations. After all, I ended up loving It’s Hard, and liking Face Dances. Sadly, I can’t say the same thing about this album. Who are these people who actually really like it? And this is coming from someone who actually likes Dark Horse, which many people consider one of George’s worst albums!
Things start off horribly right off the bat, with the trite single “You,” which was originally intended for Ronnie Spector. It’s fun, upbeat, and catchy, but the lyrics are incredibly amateurish and simplistic, barely more development beyond repeating “I love you” over and over again. It’s also sung in a key higher than his natural register, so it has the effect of sounding a bit speeded-up.
The next song is “The Answer’s at the End,” going back to familiar territory, matters of the spiritual. This could very well be one of his most underrated songs. But then the album dives right back over the cliff again with “This Guitar (Can’t Keep from Crying).” Earth to George: You kind of already did this song before. It was called “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and was released in 1968, remember? And it was much superior to this tired sophomoric retread, might I add.
After that we’re treated to another embarrassingly bad song, which is kind of embarrassing to listen to, “Ooh Baby (You Know That I Love You),” a tribute to Smokey Robinson. Very nice sentiment (though he did it much better with “Pure Smokey” on the 1976 release Thirty-Three & 1/3), but the lyrics are little more than constantly repeating “Ooh,” “I love you,” and ” Baby.” Come on, that’s like regressing back to his earliest songwriting efforts around 1964! (Although at least something like “Don’t Bother Me” is more lyrically complex than these poor entries!)
How the hell does someone who wrote fine songs like “Something,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Living in the Material World,” “All Things Must Pass,” “Within You Without You,” and “What Is Life” suddenly put out an album full of such lazy minimalist lyrics? Even his guitar-playing seems to be suffering!
“World of Stone,” which closes side one, is kind of an improvement, but its lyrics too don’t elevate it into any sort of top-notch status, even among these bottom of the barrel offerings.
“A Bit More of You” is exactly what the title suggests—a bit more of “You.” It’s only 45 seconds long, and is an instrumental section of the song. Well, at least it’s now devoid of the embarrassing lyrics and isn’t too long. “Can’t Stop Thinking About You” also suffers from repetitive amaterish lyrics. The next two tracks, “Tired of Midnight Blue” and “Grey Cloudy Lies,” are the other few songs on this album which I actually like. There’s some very soulful singing on these tracks, as there is on a lot of the other tracks (some folks feel it’s his most soulful solo album), but soulful singing doesn’t cancel out generally crummy, amateurish, repetitive, embarrassing lyrics and uninspired melodies.
The album closes with the bizarre “His Name Is Legs (Ladies and Gentlemen),” a tribute to “Legs” Larry Smith of Bonzo Dog. Like the lead-off track, it too is catchy, upbeat, and kind of fun in an innocuous way, but just not very deep lyrically. And what with just about all of the other songs having a very sombre, dirge-like feeling, it just seems totally out of place, like the “Apple Jam” section of ATMP.
This album also suffers from a bit of overproduction, so the vocals are often overwhelmed by the music. (Maybe he was paying too much attention to all the critics who lambasted his hoarse singing on Dark Horse?)
Still, this album isn’t the worst album ever created. It does have some very beautiful soulful vocals, and a handful of nice songs. There’s also a bit of tongue-in-cheek humour, such as how the logo for Apple Records on side one is an eaten apple core instead of a whole apple, and on side two it’s not only an apple core but a rotten apple core. One side of the paper sleeve also has the caption “OHNOTHIMAGEN,” making light of his plummeting popularity.
But it’s not what I’ve come to expect from George’s solo albums. Where’s the depth, beauty, professionalism, excitement, joy, emotional satisfaction of something like ATMP, Cloud Nine, or LITMW? There are also barely any spiritual songs. Even he later said it was his own worst album! The songs sound too much alike, and a lot were demos.
It gets old and annoying superfast when a lot of the songs consist of little more than “Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh” repeated over and over again, with a bunch of “I love you”s and “Baby”s thrown in for good measure.
Stay far away from this one unless you’re a completist. I’m glad I only had to part with $3 for it.