Release Date: May 1, 2012
Record label: Hip-O
Genre(s): Singer/Songwriter, Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Album Rock, AM Pop
Even with just 10 tracks and no session details, this companion to Martin Scorsese's 2011 documentary deserves a brass–band welcome. Six outtakes come from the presumptuous stages of George Harrison's 1970 triumph, All Things Must Pass, including a sweet–Nashville reading of "Behind That Locked Door," "My Sweet Lord" as acoustic hosanna and a demo of the title song that betrays its roots in the band's frontier hymnal. The Bob Dylan and Everly Brothers covers have more sheen but also the intimate grace of the quiet Beatle's seventies solo prime.
After his death in 2001, George Harrison’s wife Olivia granted Martin Scorsese the honor of directing a documentary about Harrison; George Harrison: Living in the Material World. To belatedly coincide with, and adorn that release is a most personal and intimate collection of demos and early takes from George’s personal archive of recordings which he left behind – this is: George Harrison: Early Takes Volume 1. He once said: “The Beatles, for me, is a bit like a suit or shirt I once wore, and unfortunately, people look at that suit and think it’s me.
Quiet ones from the quiet one…Now, it seems, the slow unpeeling of the George Harrison archive is beginning. Designed to accompany the Martin Scorsese documentary boxed set, Early Takes Vol. 1 – even the title sounds like a bootleg – is a collection of ten demos, six of which ended up on All Things Must Pass, two glorious covers (Dylan’s “Mama You’ve Been On My Mind”, which Harrison had played during the Let It Be sessions, and the Everlys’ “Let It Be Me”) and two songs saved for later albums, “The Light That has Lighted The World” and “Woman Don’t You Cry For Me”.
“Everyone has choice/When to and not to raise their voices.” So sings George Harrison on “Run Of The Mill,” one of the ten outtakes and demos collected on Early Takes, Volume 1, a companion piece to the DVD/Blu-Ray release of Martin Scorsese’s documentary about George’s life, Living In The Material World. It’s a telling line, because Harrison’s voice, not his slide guitar or sitar or ukulele, is what’s most prominent on these tracks, most of which date to the period around the release of All Things Must Pass. That voice had been muffled somewhat by the songwriting genius of his fellow Beatles, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, relegating the so-called Quiet Beatle to one or two tracks per Fab 4 album.
It’s been nearly 11 years since we lost George Harrison to cancer, yet it feels as if we’ve been living without him for much longer. Over the last decade and a half of his life Harrison spent far more time tending to the sprawling gardens (which, it should be noted, cover an area the size of a small town) than he did recording music. A reflective, deeply spiritual man for whom the daily grind of a working musician’s life held no allure, Harrison was determined to live according to his own rules.
Originally released as part of the deluxe Blu-ray edition of Martin Scorsese's 2011 documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World, the 2012 disc Early Takes, Vol. 1 rounds up ten of George Harrison's demos dating from the '70s. The exact dates are fuzzy, as the liner notes are little more than hagiography, but a quick scan of the titles pegs the great bulk of them -- six, to be precise -- from All Things Must Pass, with two others dating from 1976's Thirty Three & 1/3 ("Let It Be Me," "Woman Don't You Cry for Me), another from Living in the Material World, the 1973 album ("The Light That Has Lighted the World), and, finally, a perfectly fine cover of Dylan's "Mama, You've Been on My Mind.