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George Harrison albums ranked

A look at the quiet Beatle’s much celebrated solo work
12George Harrison
Gone Troppo

George’s most eclectic release, and also one of his most bizarre. And bad. Dissatisfied with the music industry and wishing a break from recording, George shat out ‘Gone Troppo’ and called it a day, not bothering to promote it. Naturally, it tanked hardcore. While the cover and title suggest a laid back, smooth record full of seaside ready tunes, ‘Gone Troppo’ is instead a confusing mishmash of dated synths, weird stabs at Doo-Wop and lite new wave and throwaway filler. There’s few serviceable songs here, mainly the utterly surreal ‘I Really Love You’, and the ‘White Album’ leftover ‘Circles’ but the rest is just too forgettable or tossed off to really take to heart. There’s little heart and soul here, and the songs with a modicum of energy are bared down by shoddy production and poor hooks. A contract filler in every sense of the term. George clearly didn’t give a shit, so why should we?

Best: Circles
Worst: Greece
11George Harrison
Extra Texture (Read All About It)

The ‘Dark Horse’ debacle had suddenly turned the world’s favourite Beatle into a punching bag of the music press. Crawling limply back into the studio, and now with a fully healed voice, George churned out this pretty dire release, chock full of miserable ballads full of self pity and loathing. While the lyrically banal but soaringly catchy ‘You’ was a good sign of things to come, the rest of the album sees George dealing with a complete lack of drive or ideas, with incredibly basic or mopey lyrics and some songs swiftly blending into one another. Absolute brain rotters like ‘Ooh Baby’ and ‘Can’t Stop Thinking About You’ stink up the tracklist to near comical degrees and bury what’s salvageable here. It’s not entirely horrific, sure, and stuff like ‘Tired of Midnight Blue’ and ‘The Answer’s at the End’ are solid hidden gems, but it was hardly the career resurrection George needed at the time.

Best: You
Worst: Can’t Stop Thinking About You
10George Harrison
Dark Horse

For some, an underrated gem. For others, the fall of a titan. ‘Dark Horse’ was nothing of an unmitigated disaster for Harrison, being rushed out the door to coincide with his equally disastrous ‘74 tour. His voice ravaged with Laryngitis and his marriage in tatters, ‘Dark Horse’ finds George struggling to even keep a tune, never mind producing a quality record. While things start off well with the one-two punch of ‘Simply Shady’ and ‘So Sad’ (and the opening instrumental ‘Hari’s On Tour (Express)’), things quickly nosedive into mediocrity with the awful, aimless rewrite of ‘Bye Bye Love’, the maddening holiday song ‘Ding Dong Ding Dong’ and the putrid ‘It Is “He”’. Sure the title track is a good piece of folk pop and ‘Far East Man’ is actually extremely good, but they’re batting against some truly bad tracks here, as well as some incredibly harsh vocals.

Best: Far East Man
Worst: It is “He” (Jai Sri Krishna)
9George Harrison
Electronic Sound

Widely maligned by basically everyone ever, ‘Electronic Sound’ is a hard sell to even the most hardcore of Beatles fans. A full album of lengthy compositions based entirely around improvised Moog noodling. Have fun! While John and Yoko’s dance with avant garde insanity was fired up with deafening shrieks, feedback and tape loops, George’s sole avant garde release is all electronic (in case you couldn’t tell by the title). Sure, it’s basically 45 minutes of total bullshit noise and chaos, but if you’ve got a like for that sort of stuff, this is some wild and creative listening. Plus it’s the first electronic album released by a major artist. Far out.

Best: Under the Mersey Wall
Worst: No Time or Place
8George Harrison
Wonderwall Music

The first solo album by a Beatle, released while George was still a member of the band, ‘Wonderwall Music’ soundtracked a movie that no one saw. While it’s somewhat scattershot nature (brought on by the fact it’s a soundtrack and not a fully realised album) and somewhat undercooked feel do detract from the experience, There’s a lot to love, or at least appreciate in this collection of mini ragas, acid rock and odds and sods. And yes, this is where Oasis got the name from. Hope you like the Shehnai!

Best: In the Park
Worst: Crying
7George Harrison
Somewhere In England

Sessions for this overlooked little gem where long and hellish, and beset by a load of problems. First the record label demanded several tracks be cut on account of them being “too sad” and then John Lennon was shot dead. The finished album received mixed reviews on release, but time has been surprisingly kind to this one, slightly garish 80s production not withstanding. While the heartbreaking Lennon-tribute/Beatles reunion track (Ringo on drums, Paul on backing vocals) ‘All Those Years Ago’ clearly leads the pack here, deeper cuts like the spacey, Indian tinged ‘Writing’s On the Wall’, the countrified ‘That Which I Have Lost’ and the deliciously catchy ‘Unconsciousness Rules’ help make this much more than some people give it credit for. It ain’t perfect, but it’s a damn fine effort

Best: All Those Years Ago
Worst: Save The World
6George Harrison

Recorded over a 13 year period, George’s last album seems the Quiet Beatle facing death with a serene sense of calm. While he passed before its release, instructions left to his son Dhani and Jeff Lynne led the album to completion. While it’s an undoubtedly touching collection, George’s most personal and spiritual since ‘Living In the Material World’, his damaged and aged voice and some slight tracks sadly tend to bog ‘Brainwashed’ down a bit. But the highlights here are easy career highlights, from the jaunty folk pop opener ‘Any Road’, the pining and highly spiritual title track, the heartwrenching ‘Marwa Blues’ and the album’s unlikely highlight: A mid 90s live recording of the standard ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’, given an easy going ukulele led arrangement. It’s restrained and charming, much like the singer himself, but absolutely heartbreaking and touching.

Best: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Worst: P2 Vatican Blues (Last Saturday Nite)
5George Harrison
Living in the Material World

Hotly anticipated in the wake of the massive success of ‘All Things Must Pass’ and the ‘Concert for Bangladesh’, Material World saw George in full spiritual mode, with this being easily his most spiritual and religious work. It was obviously a huge success, though its somewhat preachy tone and similarities to his previous LP bring it down a touch. But dips into bitter satirical blues on ‘Sue Me Sue You Blues’ and even dreamy psychedelia on ‘Be Here Now’ see Harrison further developing as an artist, even after the roulette of sounds and vibes on ‘All Things Must Pass’. Sure, it isn’t that album, but what’s here is a great slab of folk and rock with some of George’s most passionate and earnest songs.

Best: Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long
Worst: The Day the World Gets ‘Round
4George Harrison
Thirty Three & 1/3

After two disastrous albums and a critically savaged tour, George returned with his strongest material since All Things Must Pass. While nowhere near as grandiose or epic as that album, ‘Thirty Three and 1/3’ offers a simple collection of fantastic pop tunes, including the fan favourite ‘Crackerbox Palace’ and the tongue in cheek ‘This Song’. Still overlooked by many despite its many strengths, it not only put the press and public back on George’s side, it also proved he hadn’t peaked too early.

Best: Woman Don’t You Cry For Me
Worst: Pure Smokey
3George Harrison
George Harrison

Stepping off from the critical comeback of ‘Thirty Third and 1/3’, George released his 8th album in 79 to warm and welcoming reviews. Despite the positive response, Self titled has been somewhat unfairly overlooked through the years, which is a shame really. This is a mellow, soothing affair, jammed full of catchy hooks, easy going melodies and a renewed sense of vigour from the Quiet Beatle. With a jazzy reworking of the ‘White Album’ outtake ‘Not Guilty’ and a sequel to ‘Here Comes the Sun’ (guess what it’s called) amongst the track list, George finally sounds... content with things, fitting given he was now happily married at the time of recording. While it might be a little too M.O.R for some, occasionally dipping into saccharine goop, the air tight melodies and charming homely vibe make this album the TRUE Dark Horse in George’s career.

Best: Blow Away
Worst: Your Love is Forever
2George Harrison
Cloud Nine

After the tragic and tossed out ‘Gone Troppo’, George took a few years off. When he returned to the music landscape, things had changed. Hip Hop was fully taking off (a genre George didn’t like), synths and drum machines coated every song, and it seemed that there wasn’t room in the top 10 for an ex Beatle. ‘Cloud Nine’ was something of a miracle in that regard. Produced by ELO frontman and friend Jeff Lynne, ‘Cloud Nine’ bubbles with an energy and power not heard since... ‘All Things Must Pass’ to be honest. With Razor sharp hooks (‘That’s What It Takes’), smarmy and crafty lyrics (‘Devil’s Radio’) and tight instrumentation (‘When We Was Fab’), George goes all out with it. And with its lead single, the dance floor ready ‘Got My Mind Set On You’, George was back in the spotlight (and the US No 1) as well. A near perfect pop rock album, from start to finish, and proof that George wasn’t a spent force yet.

Best: That’s What It Takes
Worst: Just for Today
1George Harrison
All Things Must Pass

A dense masterpiece, crammed full of top tier tunes that were rejected by John and Paul. Bursting with energy, emotion and spirituality, nearly every song here is timeless (give or take ‘I Dig Love’), from the pining and eternal ‘My Sweet Lord’, the smooth crooning ‘Behind that Looked Door’, and the joyous folk poppy ‘Apple Scruffs’, everyone involved is batting with all their energy. Helped (though in one or two cases, hampered) by Phil Spector’s gargantuan wall of sound production, Harrison sounds absolutely on top of the world, and fully embracing his freedom, God and his own music. Plus, there’s a bonus disc of mental shredding if that’s up your alley. Essential.

Best track: What is Life?
“Worst”: I Dig Love
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