Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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George Harrison

  • All Things Must Pass [Apple, 1970] C
  • Living in the Material World [Apple, 1973] C
  • Dark Horse [Apple, 1974] C-
  • Extra Texture [Apple, 1975] C-
  • The Best of George Harrison [Capitol, 1976] B-
  • Thirty-Three & 1/3 [Dark Horse, 1976] B-
  • George Harrison [Dark Horse, 1979] C
  • Somewhere in England [Dark Horse, 1981] C-
  • Cloud Nine [Dark Horse, 1987] B-
  • The Best of Dark Horse 1976-1989 [Dark Horse/Warner Bros., 1989] B-
  • Brainwashed [Capitol, 2002] ***

Consumer Guide Reviews:

All Things Must Pass [Apple, 1970]
As a slave of the very "MAYA" (pidgin Hindi for the concrete world) Harrison warns against, I am obliged to point out that playing headsie with the Universal Mind is not introspection and that the International Pop Music Community is not a group. Presumably, the featurelessness of these three discs--right down to the anonymity of the multitracked vocals--reflects Harrison's notion of Truth, and he's welcome to it. But he's never been good for more than two songs per album, and after "My Sweet Lord" I start to get stuck. C

Living in the Material World [Apple, 1973]
If you call this living. Harrison sings as if he's doing sitar impressions, and four different people, including a little man in my head who I never noticed before, have expressed intense gratitude when I turned the damned thing off during "Be Here Now." Inspirational sentiment: "the leaders of nations/They're acting like big girls." C

Dark Horse [Apple, 1974]
Such transubstantiations. In which "Bye Bye Love" becomes "Maya Love," in which "window-pane" becomes "window brain." Can this mean that pain (pane, get it?) is the same as brain? For all this hoarse dork knows . . . C-

Extra Texture [Apple, 1975]
When they said he had a good sense of humor did they mean he was willing to grin like a Monty Python choirboy over a caption that said "OHNOTHIMAGEN"? C-

The Best of George Harrison [Capitol, 1976]
Seven of George's Beatle songs on the A side, and while the titles are impressive--"Something" and "Here Comes the Sun" no more than "If I Needed Someone" and "Think for Yourself"--the voice begins to betray its weaknesses after a while, like a borderline hitter they can pitch around after the sluggers are traded away. The solo "bests" on the B are remarkably shoddy--if this is all he can manage over four LPs you wonder why he has a contract at all. (Wait, let me guess.) B-

Thirty-Three & 1/3 [Dark Horse, 1976]
This isn't as worldly as George wants you to think--or as he thinks himself, for all I know--but it ain't fulla shit either. "Crackerbox Palace" is the best thing he's written since "Here Comes the Sun" (not counting "Deep Blue," hidden away on the B side of "Bangla-Desh," or--naughty, naughty--"My Sweet Lord"), and if "This Song" were on side two I might actually play the record again. B-

George Harrison [Dark Horse, 1979]
In which Harrison returns to good old commercial rock and roll, he says, presumably because he shared songwriting on one track with Gary "Sure Shot" Wright and let Russ Titleman produce. Well, there is a good song here--"Faster," about a kind of stardom. He remembers! C

Somewhere in England [Dark Horse, 1981]
Twice Warners sent these sappy plaints back for seasoning. Then a former associate of Harrison met with an accident, and Harrison wrote his catchiest tune in years, based thematically on this epigraph from Sri Krishna: "There never was a time when I did not exist, nor you. Nor will there be any future when we cease to be." His associate has not commented. C-

Cloud Nine [Dark Horse, 1987]
"Gettin' old as my mother," right on and why not. "Feel more like Big Bill Broonzy," not so fast. For one thing, the Other Beatle should know better than to risk comparison with his betters. For another, he's not ready to settle for Broonzy's audience share. B-

The Best of Dark Horse 1976-1989 [Dark Horse/Warner Bros., 1989]
A simpleton, but also a genuine weirdo. Voice doubles wah-wah as surely as Robert Plant's Jimmy Page impression, and he seems genuinely troubled by evil doings here on the wrong side of the veil of maya. Not that there's anything a mere star-in-spite-of-himself can do about it, except write the occasional ditty about playing in a rock and roll band. B-

Brainwashed [Capitol, 2002]
say this for death--it focuses the mind ("Any Road," "P2 Vatican Blues [Last Saturday Night]") ***