Wonderwall Music is generally considered the first solo Beatles album. Of course that is true only if you discount Paul McCartney’s scoring of the 1966 film The Family Way which was produced by George Martin.
Director John Massot approached George Harrison concerning the soundtrack for his film. He finally agreed to create the music. His Wonderwall Music was the first release on The Beatles Apple Label.
My mind has trouble wrapping itself around the music especially since I have never seen the film and thus listens to it outside its original context. Still, at the time it sold relatively well and reached number 49 on the American album charts.
It is basically an album of Eastern or Indian music and western type songs. They are more like quick sound bytes than complete pieces. The Indian music features traditional instruments such as tables and sitar. On the other hand the western music is made up of electric guitars, backward taping, and even a mellotron which provides some odd sounds. It is mostly instrumental as there is only some chanting.
As with many of Harrison’s solo projects he surrounds himself with friends. Keyboardist Tony Ashton, Peter Tork of The Monkees, drummer Richie Snare (Ringo Starr), and guitarist Eddie Clayton (Eric Clapton) are all on board to lend a hand. Clapton’s solo on “Ski-ing” is classic if unaccredited.
Wonderwall Music is one of the most eclectic solo releases by a Beatle. It is not easy listening fare nor is it music in a normal sense of the word. What it is, is different and intriguing as it provides a look into the experimental mind of George Harrison who was beginning to escape the confines of The Beatles.