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George Harrison: Chapter 8.

Music Review: George Harrison – Thirty Three & 1/3

The time finally arrived for George Harrison to release his first album on his own Dark Horse label. He had signed a lucrative deal with A&M Records to distribute his releases and needed to deliver his album by a certain date. The first problem was Harrison becoming ill with hepatitis which kept him out of the recording studio. The second problem was he missed the delivery date. The third problem was A&M then sued him for ten million dollars. He finally solved the problems, though, and signed an agreement with Warner Brothers to distribute his label.

Thirty Three & 1/3 was finally released November 19, 1976. It would be commercially successful in the United States reaching number eleven on the national album charts and receiving a gold record award for sales. It remains one of his better post All Things Must Pass albums.

He continued to use a number of familiar names as backing musicians, keyboardist Gary Wright, bassist Willie Weeks, and brass player and arranger Tom Scott among them. Missing was longtime drummer Jim Keltner but he would surface as the judge in the “This Song” video.

Harrison released two top-thirty singles from the album and both were excellent examples of mid-seventies pop. “Crackerjack Palace” was a catchy ode to comedian Lord Buckley’s home in Los Angeles. “This Song,” written during Harrison’s plagiarism suit involving his “My Sweet Lord” and the old Chiffons hit “He’s So Fine,” made for a nice piano-based rock tune.

There were several other songs of note. “Why Don’t You Cry For Me” was a 1969 composition that was left off All Things Must Pass. It contains Harrison’s first use of a slide guitar technique. The most interesting song, though, is the old Cole Porter tune, “True Love.” Originally a duo for Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly in the film High Society, Harrison added a little background beat and transferred the tune in a creative pop direction.

The ironic track was “Learning How To Love You,” which was written with Herb Alpert in mind, who’d had a huge number-one hit with “This Guys In Love With You.” Harrison hoped he would record this song. Of course Alpert was an owner of the A&M label, however, and there was the little problem of the ten-million dollar lawsuit. Harrison eventually decided to record it himself.

Thirty Three & 1/3 is one of George Harrison’s more melodic albums and while it may not be a five-star effort it is very solid, and it’s too often ignored in his vast catalogue.

About David Bowling

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