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Music Review: George Harrison –Let It Roll: Songs by George Harrison

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This might be one of the most challenging CDs I have had to review yet (and I've reviewed one by Gary Lewis), but not because it's terrible or that I have writer's block. It's because the album is of George Harrison, and how can you critique something that is almost flawless?

Let It Roll focuses mostly on the albums All Things Must Pass, Cloud Nine, and Brainwashed, but such is acceptable as they are arguably his three greatest solo albums. It starts off with Harrison's cover of “Got My Mind Set On You,” showing that how even late in his career he was still perfectly able of creating genius music and that he wasn’t just a washed-up Beatle. Then the set rolls (get it?) into “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth),” from Living in the Material World, which is followed by “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp” and “My Sweet Lord,” both from All Things Must Pass. Only four songs in and you can already tell that this disc is amazing.

Next comes “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” live from Madison Square Garden. Harrison's Beatle-era songs are smartly presented here, given that everyone has heard their original recordings and probably own them all anyway. Well, at least I do. In any event, instead of including those originals, performances of them from the Concert For Bangladesh are offered, thus covering both the Beatles and the famed concert at the same time.

“All Things Must Pass” precedes “Any Road,” the latter a track from Brainwashed, his 2002 posthumous album. “Any Road” is a great example of Harrison's gift of writing a really enjoyable song with a meaning without having that meaning hit you over the head. Following that comes “This is Love,” from his comeback album Cloud Nine. This was also his last album released during his lifetime, and it strikes me as a little strange (though I'm not starting a conspiracy theory here) that not unlike John Lennon's Double Fantasy, his comeback album was also his last. Next up is “All Those Years Ago,” Harrison's tribute to Lennon, an okay song that wears on me after awhile. Another cut from Brainwashed follows, the instrumental “Marwa Blues,” before the classic, “What is Life,” and “Rising Sun," another track from Brainwashed. As I said earlier, this compilation is a little heavy on All Things Must Pass and Brainwashed, but it's alright because these albums are near perfect.

“When We Was Fab” follows, and I could go on about Jeff Lynne and his producing of Harrison's later material, but that's for another time. Even with Lynne producing these songs, however, they're still darn good. Interestingly, as “When We Was Fab” fades out, “Something,” from the Concert For Bangladesh, fades in at the same time. Then comes “Blow Away,” one of my new favorites of Harrison's, from his 1979 eponymous album. Next up is “Cheer Down,” oddly enough written for the movie Lethal Weapon 2, and it's a little strange that a song from a movie appears on this set when it could've just as well included a song from Dark Horse, Extra Texture, Thirty Three and 1/3, or Gone Troppo, which are not featured at all. Lastly, the compilation finishes off with a live rendition of “Here Comes the Sun,” a Dylan cover in “I Don't Wanna Do It,” and “Isn't it a Pity,” which is a great way for this set to end.

The only thing I would have liked to have seen was at least one song from Harrison's stint in the Traveling Wilburys. Even without covering that period, though, this is still a near flawless record and definitely recommended. Just remember to buy All Things Must Pass as well.

I give Let It Roll four and a half out of five stars.

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