George Harrison, Early Takes Volume 1

Wayne Robins

By Wayne Robins

on 05.01.12 in Reviews

Early Takes Volume 1

George Harrison
Bringing forward much more than Beatle George

More than any of the Beatles, George Harrison’s mission was to live out his belief that his time with the band was “just a little part that got played…there is much more to me than Beatle George.” You can hear just how distinctive the not-Beatle George Harrison was on Early Takes Volume 1. These 10 tracks, clocking in at barely over 30 minutes, are billed as the audio companion to the DVD release of Martin Scorsese’s HBO documentary about Harrison, Living in the World. Some tracks are in the film; some aren’t. But all of them accentuate the positive, lyrically and musically, bringing to the front Harrison’s gifts as a guitarist and singer, talents that were sometimes camouflaged by the state of the art production demands of mainstream ’70s rock. In fact, many of these versions are preferable to the highly polished studio releases. Six of these Early Takes were demos or early versions of songs that appeared on Harrison’s 1970 post-Beatles solo debut, the bold three-vinyl set, All Things Must Pass. The demo of that song, as well as the trance-like intensity of “My Sweet Lord,” underline Harrison’s humility and awe at the opening of spiritual consciousness, the sincerity of his desire to transcend the temporal. “I’d Have You Anytime,” written with Bob Dylan, should be considered in the same class as Harrison’s now-standard Beatles’ song “Something.” A previously unreleased rendition of Dylan’s “Mama You’ve Been on My Mind” proves that had Beatledom not been his destiny, Harrison could have been one of the great folk singers of his era.