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Another Imaginary Box Set 

This time we set our sights on the quiet Beatle, George Harrison, an artist who's for the most part been ill-served by compilations. Isn't it a pity, too, as of the Fab Four, George's solo career is arguably the most consistent.

Of those compilations, the first, The Best of George Harrison (1976), was assembled by former label Capitol without his approval. The song selection, as far as it goes, is excellent; but only half the record (roughly 24 minutes' worth) covers George's solo career to that point. The entire first side consists of Harrison-penned Beatles material. Great stuff, of course, but misplaced on what is nominally a solo artist's greatest hits album.

We'd have to wait until 1989 for the second collection, Best of Dark Horse 1976–1989. As the title suggests, this isn't a comprehensive career overview; it covers only George's work on his Dark Horse label. George was involved in this one, and it shows: in the quality of material chosen, the fact that all period albums are represented, and the two new songs specifically recorded for this project. That said, I'd quibble with a few of his choices, and have duly replaced the questionable songs with better ones on my homemade compilation.

Which brings us to Let It Roll (2009), touted as George's first true career-spanning compilation. According to the album's Wikipedia entry, "the track list was selected by George's widow Olivia with some assistance from close friends and family." Finally, the man has been given his proper due, right? Wrong. Sure, Let It Roll spans Harrison's entire career, but with gaping holes—three consecutive mid-'70s releases (Dark Horse, Extra Texture and Thirty Three & 1/3) aren't represented at all. Neither is 1982's Gone Troppo or the 1992 Live in Japan album. As a result, key singles are missing, like "Bangla Desh," "Dark Horse," "You" and "Crackerbox Palace." Worse, the compilers have managed to sneak The Beatles in again, through the back door this time (the three tracks from The Concert for Bangladesh are all Beatles songs).

So, this brings us to the compilation-that-should-be, namely mine. (I'm telling you, some record label really ought to hire me.) It's not that hard. Take all the artist's albums, cherry-pick the best three songs from each, add the odd soundtrack contribution and non-album single and put it all in chronological order. Oh, and toss in a couple of Beatles numbers when you have no other choice (Live in Japan). And here you have it: a truly representative, career-spanning compilation that easily fits on three CDs.

Disc 1 (69:44): Apple Years—1970-1975

  1. My Sweet Lord
  2. Isn't It a Pity
  3. What Is Life
  4. Bangla Desh
  5. Wah-Wah (live)
  6. Awaiting on You All (live)
  7. Beware of Darkness (live)
  8. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)
  9. Don't Let Me Wait Too Long
  10. Living in the Material World
  11. Dark Horse
  12. So Sad
  13. Far East Man
  14. You
  15. This Guitar (Can't Keep from Crying)
  16. Tired of Midnight Blue

Disc 2 (61:35): Middle Years—1976-1987

  1. This Song
  2. Crackerbox Palace
  3. Beautiful Girl
  4. Blow Away
  5. Love Comes to Everyone
  6. Here Comes the Moon
  7. All Those Years Ago
  8. Writing's on the Wall
  9. Life Itself
  10. That's the Way It Goes
  11. Mystical One
  12. Circles
  13. I Don't Want to Do It
  14. Got My Mind Set on You
  15. This Is Love
  16. When We Was Fab

Disc 3 (43:20): Final Years—1988-2002

  1. Heading for the Light
  2. Cheer Down
  3. Poor Little Girl
  4. Cockamamie Business
  5. I Want to Tell You (live)
  6. Here Comes the Sun (live)
  7. Devil's Radio (live)
  8. Any Road
  9. Rising Sun
  10. Stuck Inside a Cloud

If you'd like to try on this box set ("playlist," as the kids would say) for yourselves, all the material is available on YouTube and probably various streaming services, too. Enjoy the soulful, melodic sounds of George Harrison.
 

Photographs by Carol Witwicky. Instrument illustrations and GZ logo © 2017 Grinning Zone Studios.
Album and lyrics page artwork © 2017 Gabriel Altrows. Web design by Vern Nicholson.
Sour Landslide and Benvereens archival footage courtesy Neil Whitlock.
All pages and contents © 2017-2019 Vern Nicholson.