Somewhere In England traveled a long and bumpy journey from creation to its final release June 5, 1981. The Warner Brothers label rejected four of the original songs and the album cover as well. The rejected songs, “Flying High,” “Lay His Head,” “Sat Singing,” and “Tears Of The World” have been released down through the years and their inclusion would have made the album a much stronger release.
Harrison returned to the studio but before completing the album again, John Lennon was murdered. He restructured the song “All Those Years Ago” as a tribute to his former band mate. Ringo Starr was the drummer plus Paul and Linda McCartney provided the backing vocals. It was as close to a Beatles reunion that we had received up until that time.
Released as a single it became one of his biggest hits reaching the number two position in The United States. It was jazzy, catchy, and featured impeccable harmonies.
The rest of the album is a hit and miss affair. While it initially sold well, it would become his first solo album since 1969’s Electric Sound not to receive a gold record award for sales.
“Blood From A Stone” was a replacement song and it emerged as a biting criticism of the music industry. In addition, it was the first track on the original vinyl release which served to emphasize his point. “Life Itself” is a nice tribute to his wife Olivia.
On the other hand the two Hoagy Carmichael tunes, “Baltimore Oriole” and “Hong Kong Blues,” are a stretch vocally and style wise. Songs such as “Unconsciousness Rules,” “That Which I Have Lost,” and “Teardrops” fall into the dreaded average range of nothing bad and nothing good which adds up to forgettable.
He had many of his usual cast of musicians on hand. Bassist Willie Weeks, horn player and arranger Tom Scott, percussionist and keyboardist Ray Cooper, and old friend Jim Keltner provided excellent backing.
Somewhere In England added up to an average album which was representative of his mid seventies and eighties work. It would have a few standouts but they would be lost anong the weaker tracks. If you want to explore the solo music of George Harrison this is not the place to start.