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Monday, August 15, 2016

GEORGE HARRISON - "Wonderwall Music" (Apple Records) 1968

To be perfectly honest, I like George Harrison's music in The Beatles a lot - but his solo albums (including his much loved "All Things Must Past") leaves me wanting something more.  There are individual songs here and there throughout the solo years that I enjoyed, and I think his role as a record producer is very underrated.  Still, the one album of his that I love, is his soundtrack album to the über-hippie film "Wonderwall."  For one, this is the first album released on the Beatle label Apple, and therefore the first solo album from the Fab Four.  

For the first time, I think Harrison moved away from London/Liverpool to embrace Indian music.  The beauty of this record is that he's not doing Indian music, but putting his personality and style into that form of music.  So it's a hybrid version of George Beatle and Indian classic music.   Recorded in Bombay and London, this album is probably one of the first 'world' music projects - at least by a pop star.  One of the great charms about this album is that it really doesn't remind me of Harrison as much as Serge Gainsbourg when he did soundtrack music.  There's a Jean-Claude Vannier (Gainsbourg's co-writer/arranger during the early 70s) that clearly this album must have been an influence on those two French geniuses.  In fact, this album is very French sounding to me.  Why?  I don't know.  All I know is if you put me in a room and played this album without me knowing its history, I would think it was Gainsbourg, or at the very least, a French soundtrack album from the early 70s.  

So, the album is very much ahead of its time.  Even though Indian sounds were clearly entering the Beatles world and other artists as well - this is the first album where Harrison embraces that world fully, but still added his pop sensibility into the soup.  There are traces of Musique Concrete as well.  This is such a great album, and it's disappointing that Harrison didn't continue the great adventure.   Then again, without his presence, we wouldn't have those great British comedies from the 70s.  Harrison was equally serious and hysterical at the same time.