The Legends of Laurel Canyon
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die
It’s So Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best
Transfiguration of Vincent
Christmas in the Heart
Glitter and Doom Live
Let It Roll: The Best of George Harrison
Secret, Profane & Sugarcane
Playing for Change
The line of George Harrison’s post-Beatles career followed a saucer-shaped arc. After the somewhat stifling confines of being the ‘third’ songwriter for the world’s most lauded group of musicians, he had a backlog of material that could have lasted for half a decade. Instead, he burst out of the gate like Secretariat on steroids, releasing a triple album that contained more original material than he wrote during his entire career with the Beatles.
He earned the distinction of releasing the first ‘solo Beatle’ #1 album (“All Things Must Pass”) and #1 single (“My Sweet Lord”). While still at the absolute peak of his abilities, he organized the Concert for Bangla Desh in 1971, an event that still is considered one of the most artistically successful charity events of all time. Subsequently, it seemed as though Harrison had either lost interest in fame or consciously decided to fly under the radar. For the next decade or so, he released modestly successful albums that pleased his fans but shunned mass acceptance. It wasn’t until John Lennon’s murder in 1980 that Harrison seemed ready to reignite his music career, but a great deal of his energy also went toward his film production company, Handmade Films. The late 80’s saw a full-blown career resurgence both as a solo artist and as a member of the Traveling Wilburys, but his private life and subsequent illness prevented him from re-embracing the limelight.
A career like George Harrison’s has certainly yielded enough material for a ‘best of’ collection, but his various phases (and record labels) rendered any previous compendium of his songs incomplete. “Let It Roll: The Best of George Harrison” covers more ground than any other, and disguises the dual peaks of his career by mixing up the chronological order. Furthermore, there are no Beatles recordings here, but there are a few Beatles songs (live versions from the Bangla Desh performance). Also lacking are his contributions to the Traveling Wilburys, making this a distinctly solo effort. Despite a few gripes (where on earth is “Beware of Darkness”, or “Ding Dong, Ding Dong”?), the song selection is excellent, if tightly constructed – a single disk ‘greatest hits’ for a guy who kicked off his career with a classic triple album simply isn’t enough. Nevertheless, it’s a gas to hear the early ‘70s Phil Spector productions sitting side by side with the late ‘80s work of Jeff Lynne (Electric Light Orchestra and his bandmate in the Traveling Wilburys).
Maybe you’re the type of Beatles fan who bought an album or two by Paul (with or without Wings) and a few by John, but never felt like coughing up the cash for George’s triple album, before losing interest. Now, there’s a collection that provides most highlights from his life after the Beatles. “Let It Roll: The Best of George Harrison” barely scratches the surface, but perhaps it will inspire you to finally dig deeper and discover the trove of genius that defined the life’s work of “the Third Beatle.”