The Dark Horse Years 1976–1992
Part One: Thirty-Three & 1/3
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2004, Volume 11, #5
Written by John Metzger
George Harrison managed to bookend his solo career with a pair of masterpieces — All Things Must Pass and Brainwashed are classics in every sense of the word — but in between he sometimes struggled with both himself and his label to construct a satisfying collection of songs, frequently appearing as if making music was of less importance than his other pursuits. Nevertheless, Harrison was capable of crafting a gem when he wanted to do so, and even his less than stellar recordings were sufficiently interesting.
After languishing in limbo for some time, Harrison’s outings under his Dark Horse imprint have been resurrected, and each has been digitally remastered and padded, however sparsely, with bonus tracks. Available individually, the six albums are also part of a larger box set titled The Dark Horse Years 1976–1992, which includes an exclusive booklet of liner notes and rare photographs as well as a DVD that compiles his various promotional videos along with previously unreleased concert footage and a brief documentary. Taken in total, the components of this extensive package highlight how, despite the many changes within the music industry, Harrison’s voice and vision remained focused on a single goal — shining a spiritual light upon an often dark world through song.
Thirty-Three & 1/3
Much like All Things Must Pass, George Harrison’s fifth solo outing Thirty-Three & 1/3 was comprised largely of tunes that grew from seeds planted years earlier. Beautiful Girl was plucked from a ’69 recording session and turned into an ode to his wife; This Song bore the frustration from his court case over the similarities between My Sweet Lord and He’s So Fine; See Yourself comments on Paul McCartney’s decision to make the Beatles’ utilization of LSD public knowledge; and on It’s What You Value, Harrison chastises his ’74 touring band for their materialism. Despite the personal nature of his lyrics, however, Thirty-Three & 1/3 didn’t turn out to be quite the gem that All Things Must Pass was. Though the collection had its share of good songs, many of which bore resemblances to some of Harrison’s finer moments, few were classics, and the rest were undermined, at least partially, by assistant producer Tom Scott’s overly glossy production style. As a result, there is a sense of sterility that creeps into the material, and one is left wondering what might have happened if George Martin or Phil Spector had been involved in the project. The new rendition of Thirty-Three & 1/3 features one bonus track — the rarity Tears of the World, which actually fares better than much of the album.
This is the first installment of a seven-part series, which will examine each
album in The Dark Horse Years 1976–1992. The entire boxed set is rated: ½
Of Further Interest...
Thirty-Three & 1/3 is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
This album is also part of the box set The Dark Horse Years 1976–1992,
which is available from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box