George Harrison: Early Takes – Volume 1

Surprisingly affecting demos of ex-Beatle’s solo work.

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Released in tandem with Martin Scorsese’s documentary and an accompanying book, these demos from George Harrison’s early days as an ex-Moptopper are a good deal less thin and tentative than you might expect.

Yes, the early, acoustic run through of My Sweet Lord doesn’t amount to much, deprived of that pluming electric guitar motif, but then there’s Run Of The Mill, in which Harrison’s phrasing and plucking suggest a more substantial troubadour than some of his reedier studio material might suggest.

Harrison was big friends with Bob Dylan around this time, who was himself going through a country rock phase, and this influence tells on I’d Have You Anytime, co-composed with Dylan, and Woman Don’t You Cry For Me which had been considered for All Things Must Pass but eventually cropped up on Harrison’s 1976 album 33 13.

Most touching of all, perhaps, is Harrison’s cover of Let It Be Me, written by The Everly Brothers, which he renders in a way that taps into a part of the soul that neither Lennon nor McCartney, for all their immense merits, could ever quite have reached.

Much more than a cash-in farrago of rejected rehearsal tapes, this collection gives a flattering glimpse into the capabilities of an often disparaged artist in the creative raw.

David Stubbs

David Stubbs is a music, film, TV and football journalist. He has written for The Guardian, NME, The Wire and Uncut, and has written books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Electronic Music and the footballer Charlie Nicholas.