Continuing with my series on who is the “MVB” (Most Valuable Beatle) for each their albums, I have arrived at 1969′s Yellow Submarine which is a pretty unusual album in The Beatles career as it contains only four new Beatles songs because two had already been released on previous albums (“Yellow Submarine” on Revolver & “All You Need Is Love” on Magical Mystery Tour) and seven of the tracks weren’t really proper Beatles songs (they were George Martin’s instrumentals for the film’s soundtrack.)
So in this installment of my Lennon vs. McCartney series there will only be four songs to look at and there will be another competitor as George Harrison actually wrote two of the four new Beatles songs on the album and definitely needs to be considered as the MVB of this album. Continue reading “Yellow Submarine: John Vs. Paul (Vs. George?)” »
Here are the rules: I start with “Rubber Soul” and end with “Abbey Road”.
“In My Life” is an obvious choice. I hear a slight Buddy Holly influence on this song. A beautiful melancholy melody and pleasantly dreaming lead vocal performance from John Lennon.
While the song “Rain” never appeared on any of The Beatles studio outfits, it is a real gem in their catalog. It reminds me of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, but was in fact recorded before the release of the seminal “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”. There is no doubt, however, that Lennon had a direct influence on the early creative musical output of Syd Barrett.
“I’m Only Sleeping” from the 1966 record “Revolver” is another classic track. The effortless lead vocal by Lennon and the catchy bass line by Sir Paul McCartney ensure that this is a timeless pop jingle for the ages.
“She Said She Said” from the same record is a shiny number with those unpredictable drum fills courtesy of man-child Ringo. This song is downright scary; an intense and paranoid joyride.
The sonic experiment “Blue Jay Way” is the best George Harrison Beatles contribution ever! There is so much going on here musically, especially with the recording of the vocals, making it a difficult song to dissect. In any event, another frighteningly beautiful Beatles joint.
“Dear Prudence” is my personal favorite of any Beatles song. It is emotional without being corny. There is something intense and difficult about it, a sort of complex feeling of longing. It is jangly yet pleasantly forceful; a real enigma of a song featuring a stellar vocal arrangement from space.
Like the previous cut, “Long Long Long” was also from “The White Album” (as you all know). “Long Long Long” could be the most underrated Beatles song of them all. It is a very troubling kind of Blues somehow, almost a Spiritual number of some sort…so sweet and fragile.
Finally; the Proto-Punk of “Polythene Pam” has an intense immediacy to it that can’t be beat (this cut being from the “Abbey Road” record, as you all know).
And there it is! The very best songs by The Beatles! Thank you for your time.
Jim James of My Morning Jacket has recorded an EP (6 songs) of George Harrison covers titled Tribute To George Harrison which is available for download and for pre-order as a CD (out on August 4th) at his website YimYames.com, the songs are also available for streaming so you can check them out for free.
The six songs are “Long Long Long” from The White Album, “Behind That Locked Door” from All Things Must Pass, “Love You To” from Revolver, “My Sweet Lord” from All Things Must Pass, “Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)” from All Things Must Pass, and “All Things Must Pass” from All Things Must Pass (it’s also heard in a more stripped down version on The Beatles’ Anthology 3.)
There’s a limited edition vinyl version of this George Harrison tribute available which comes with the CD and a T-Shirt from the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. Go to YimYames.com to check it out for yourself (click through the photo.)
George Harrison was born on February 25th of 1943 in Liverpool, England. He is best known as the lead guitarist (and also a singer/songwriter) for The Beatles, for his solo career, and for his work with the Traveling Wilburys.
While Harrison was overshadowed by John Lennon & Paul McCartney (and even by Ringo Starr sometimes) – his melodic guitar solos were a big part of The Beatles sound. And as a singer/songwriter he contributed at least one song to each Beatles album from 1965 on.
His first song that made it onto a Beatles album was “Don’t Bother Me” which appeared on The Beatles second album, With the Beatles. But he didn’t contribute any songs to their 3rd and 4th albums (A Hard Day’s Night & Beatles For Sale) which were both released in 1964.
It was on The Beatles 5th album, 1965′s Help!, that Harrison really got going as a songwriter. “I Need You” and “You Like Me Too Much” were both Harrison compositions.
On their next album, Rubber Soul, The Beatles used a sitar for the first time. Harrison is the one who brought the Indian influence to the band and he played the sitar on “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown.)” He wrote “Think for Yourself,” & “If I Needed Someone” for the album.
1966′s Revolver included three Harrison songs: “Taxman,” “Love You To” and “I Want to Tell You.” “Love You To” is notable for it’s heavy Indian music influence. While “Taxman” is one of Harrison’s most well known songs, he did not play the guitar solo on it: Instead it was played by Paul McCartney.
1967′s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band featured only one Harrison song, “Within You Without You.” The followup, Magical Mystery Tour, also featured one song by Harrison: “Blue Jay Way.”
In 1968 one of Harrison’s songs made it onto a Beatles single for the first time. The last Beatles song with a heavy Indian music influence, “Inner Light,” was the B-Side to “Lady Madonna.”
Harrison contributed four songs to The Beatles 1968 double album: The White Album (officially The Beatles.) “Piggies,” “Long Long Long,” “Savoy Truffle,” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (his friend Eric Clapton played the solo.)
Of the four new songs recorded for the Yellow Submarine album, two of them were Harrison’s “It’s All Too Much” & “It’s Only A Northern Song.” “It’s All Too Much” in particular is a really great song that is too often overlooked.
Harrison had two songs on 1969′s Abbey Road and they are two of The Beatles most well known songs: “Something” & “Here Comes The Sun.” “Something” was paired with John Lennon’s Come Together on a “Double A-Side Single.”
His 1969 tune “Old Brown Shoe” was released as the B-Side to Lennon’s “The Ballad of John & Yoko” single.
The Beatles final album (released, not recorded) Let It Be had two Harrison songs: “I Me Mine” & “For You Blue.”
Harrison actually released two albums of experimental music before The Beatles split up in 1970: Wonderwall Music (yes this is what inspired the Oasis song title.) & Electronic Sound.
But it was his triple album, All Things Must Pass, released on November 27th of 1970 that was considered to be his real solo debut and many people were shocked at how good it was and by how many songs it had on it. He had built up a huge backlog of songs during his time with The Beatles had he had never been able to get too many of his songs on their albums (being squeezed out by Lennon & McCartney.)
It was the first triple album by a solo artist and it included the hit singles “My Sweet Lord” (#1 in the US) and “What Is Life” (#10 in the US.)
While Harrison never really matched the success of All Things Must Pass either artistically or commercially, he did release five more albums that charted in the top 10 in the US: 1971′s The Concert for Bangla Desh, 1973′s Living in the Material World, 1974′s Dark Horse, 1975′s Extra Texture (Read All About It), and 1987′s Cloud Nine.
His final album was 2002′s Brainwashed which was released after Harrison’s death in 2001.
He also released two albums with the Traveling Wilburys supergroup (with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison.) The first album was particularly successful as it reached #3 on the US album charts.
Harrison died on November 29, 2001 at age 58 from cancer.
George Harrison Making A Surprise Appearance On The Smothers Brothers TV Program In 1968:
George Harrison At John Lennon’s Home In 1971
“My Guitar Gently Weeps” Live In 1971 (The Concert For Bangla Desh.)
On January 2nd of 1971 George Harrison’s debut solo album (not counting his earlier experimental albums Wonderwall & Electric Sound) All Things Must Pass became the first album by a former Beatle to reach #1 on the US album charts. It also reached #1 in the UK, Canada, Norway, Australia, & Italy.
The triple album was filled with songs that he had written while a member of The Beatles but he hadn’t been able to get onto The Beatles albums (due to competing with John Lennon & Paul McCartney for space on the albums.)
Among the 23 tracks on the album is the hit single “My Sweet Lord” which hit #1 in countries all around the world. “What Is Life” was a top 10 hit in the US. The title track, “All Things Must Pass” can also be heard in demo version on The Beatles Anthology 3.
The album was included in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2003. They ranked it at #437.
It is considered by most Harrison fans to be his peak as a solo artist. It is easily his highest ranking album on rateyourmusic.com where it is currently ranked as the 182nd greatest album of all time (and #12 for 1970.)
Video Of The Beatles Rehearsing “All Things Must Pass” (Almost exactly two years earlier: January 3, 1969.)
The Beatles worked on two new George Harrison penned songs in Abbey Road studios on June 16th of 1969. Those two songs would end up on the album Abbey Road released later that year.
Those two songs? “Something” & “Here Comes The Sun.”
This video features the girlfriends/wives of each of The Beatles at the time. Including George Harrison’s Pattie Boyd who inspired the song. Boyd later inspired Eric Clapton’s “Layla” & “Wonderful Tonight.” Harrison first met Boyd at the taping of the A Hard Day’s Night film which she was in.