Saturday, October 11, 2008

Album Of The Day #82: THE DARK HORSE YEARS 1976-1992 - George Harrison

Title: The Dark Horse Years 1976–1992

Artist: George Harrison
Label: Dark Horse/Capitol/EMI
Year: 2004
Recorded and Originally Released: 1976-1992
Thirty Three & 1/3: Woman Don’t You Cry For Me/Dear One/Beautiful Girl/This Song/See Yourself/It’s What You Value/True Love [Cole Porter]/Pure Smokey/Crackerbox Palace/Learning How To Love You/Tears For The World*
George Harrison: Love Comes To Everyone/Not Guilty/Here Comes The Moon/Soft-Hearted Hanna/Blow Away/Faster/Dark Sweet Lady/Your Love Is Forever/Soft Touch/If You Believe [George Harrison & Gary Wright]/Here Comes The Moon [Demo]*
Somewhere In England: Blood From A Clone/Unconsciousness Rules/Life Itself/All Those Years Ago/Baltimore Oriole [Hoagy Charmichael]/Teardrops/That Which I Have Lost/Writing’s On The Wall/Hong Kong Blues [Hoagy Charmichael]/Save The World/Save The World [Demo]*
Gone Troppo: Wake Up My Love/That’s The Way It Goes/I Really Love You [Leroy Swearingen]/Greece/Gone Troppo/Mystical One/Unknown Delight/Baby Don’t Runaway/Dream Away/Circles/Mystical One [Demo]*
Cloud Nine: Cloud Nine/That’s What It Takes [George Harrison, Jeff Lynne & Gary Wright]/Fish On The Sand/Just For Today/This Is Love [George Harrison & Jeff Lynne]/When We Was Fab [George Harrison & Jeff Lynne]/Devil’s Radio/Someplace Else/Wreck Of The Hesperus/Breath Away From Heaven/Got My Mind Set On You [Rudy Clark]/ Shanghai Surprise*/Zig Zag*
Live In Japan: I Want To Tell You/Old Brown Shoe/Taxman/Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)/If I Needed Someone/Something/What Is Life/Dark Horse/Piggies/Got My Mind Set On You [Rudy Clark]/Cloud Nine/Here Comes The Sun/My Sweet Lord/All Those Years Ago/Cheer Down [George Harrison & Tom Petty]/Devil’s Radio/Isn’t It A Pity/While My Guitar Gently Weeps/Roll Over Beethoven [Chuck Berry]
The Dark Horse Years DVD: Dark Horse Feature/This Song /Crackerbox Palace/Faster /Got My Mind Set On You [Version 1][Rudy Clark]/Got My Mind Set On You [Version 2][Rudy Clark]/When We Was Fab [George Harrison & Jeff Lynne]/This Is Love [George Harrison & Jeff Lynne]/ Cheer Down [Live][George Harrison & Tom Petty]/Devil's Radio [Live]/Cloud 9 [Live]/Taxman [Live]/ Shanghai Surprise /Someplace Else/The Hottest Gong In Town
Written by: George Harrison, except where noted
Thirty Three & 1/ Produced by: George Harrison
George Harrison Produced by: George Harrison & Russ Titleman
Somewhere In England Produced by: George Harrison & Ray Cooper
Gone Troppo Produced by: George Harriosn, Ray Cooper & Phil MacDonald
Cloud Nine Produced by: George Harrison & Jeff Lynne
Live In Japan Produced by: Spike & Nelson Wilbury
Thoughts: This box set is a godsend. I mean, five really good Beatle solo albums, plus an awesome live album and a great DVD. Of course, everything about it is great, except for the price ($130 on Amazon...ouch! I don't remember paying that much though, in 2004) and the odd choices of bonus tracks. You miss the great tracks from George's The Best Of Dark Horse that he recorded for that compilation. Of those three tracks, the closest we get is the live version of "Cheer Down" on Live In Japan. "Poor Little Girl" and "Cockamamie Business" are two of my favorite George tracks but are unfortunately missing. 33 & 1/3 includes "Tears Of The World", the only track from Somewhere In England's cast-away four that is here and the reason it is included on an album recorded five years earlier remains a mystery. George Harrison, Somewhere In England and Gone Troppo all include acoustic demos of probably the best songs off those albums. Cloud Nine includes two songs from the Madonna disaster Shanghai Surprise, although as the DVD reveals, there are plenty more George songs from that film that could have been included as bonus tracks. Live In Japan is presented by SACD hybrid discs which does beg the question: what about the rest of the LPs? I don't have an SACD player and considering that platform has been ruled dead, I guess it doesn't matter. The albums are remastered amazingly. I have the original CD releases of 33 & 1/3 and George Harrison and there is no comparison between those and these 2004 versions. On the DVD, you get an excruciatingly short promo film giving an overview of the box, plus all but one of George's promo films from these albums (only "Blow Away" is missing...arg!), excerpts from the Live In Japan film and Shanghai Surprise. What makes the DVD really cool is the inclusion of little introductions taken from various interviews of George.
The albums are all available separately in the exact same packages as in the box set, but some of them are more difficult to find than others. In the four years since their release they are all actually becoming really hard to find. Live In Japan is probably the rarest of them all. I've only seen that a few times, the same with Gone Troppo and Somewhere In England. Olivia annoyingly actually released the DVD by itself, but I'm not sure if that comes with a booklet that includes the same incredible essay that the box includes. The DVD is packaged in a hardcover book, filled with great pictures of George and the after mentioned essay. Each CD is packed in a conventional jewel case, with booklets that include lyrics. Live In Japan, 33 & 1/3 and George Harrison have I, Me, Mine excerpts. Gone Troppo has a really interesting fold-out poster instead of a conventional booklet, which is rather silly, although I guess that goes with the unique artwork that graced the original LP. Somewhere In England features George's original art design, but fails to include the actual final design, although that was so boring it might be a good thing. (This also begs the question: if they could go through the trouble of reinstating the original art, why couldn't they include the original tracks?) Cloud Nine doesn't have lyrics, but still has an extensive booklet with interview quotes and the full LP art. (Also, George Harrison's title has been changed from a type-face to George's signature.)
Rating: If you have any of these albums already, don't go for this. If you don't have any of them, but would like them, get this and find it cheap. At retail it goes over $100, but I'm sure you could find it under that at places like eBay. 8/10

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