The Best(s) of George Harrison

Fair warning: Those with little tolerance for the Beatles, feel free to skip past this one. Haven’t updated the blog in a while, and decided to take a break from work to tackle this very important topic: George Harrison’s just released posthumous “best of” collection, Let It Roll: The Best of George Harrison.

This is the third Harrison “best of” disc. The first one, The Best of George Harrison, from 1976, was borderline insulting, as it paired six Harrison originals with six of his Beatles-era tunes. All the music was great, but it’s doubtful Harrison appreciated having five years of his solo career boiled down to six tracks.

The second best of, The Best of Dark Horse (1976-1989) came in the wake of his revival in the late eighties, after the huge success of Cloud 9 and the number one single “Got My Mind Set On You.” The disc collected some minor hits and album tracks from 1976-1989, as well as top ten hits “All Those Years Ago” (#2 in 1981) and “Got My Mind Set On You” (#1 in 1987).

The new collection picks selections from both of those discs, while adding several interesting (and maybe odd) choices. It leaves off three of the tracks from the first collection, which is a bit dissappointing. “You,” (#20 in 1975) is one of Harrison’s stronger solo singles, and “Dark Horse” (#15 in 1975) is a pretty great little tune, marred for many by the fact that Harrison (rather bizarrely) chose to record it (and the album it was drawn from) while suffering from a bad case of laryngitis.  All of the vocals on the album are strained, but it doesn’t ruin my enjoyment of the title track. The third track left off is “Bangla-Desh,” (#23 in 1971) Harrison’s heartfelt ode to the suffering nation, and more or less the anthem for his relief efforts, which were highlighted by the concert and star-studded 1972 live album, The Concert for Bangla-Desh. The new collection does feature three live versions of Beatles-era songs (“Something,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Here Comes the Sun”), taken from that live album (which climbed to #2 on the charts). I would have preferred the blistering live version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (featuring one of Eric Clapton’s best live solos) from 1989’s Live in Japan, but that’s the anal Beatles geek in me talking.

“New” tracks appearing on Let It Roll include the beautiful “Isn’t It a Pity” (which was the flip side to “My Sweet Lord,” and charted separately at #1 in 1970), and a handful of album tracks from All Things Must Pass, Cloud 9 and the posthumously released Brainwashed. Harrison’s mid-seventies output is virtually ignored on this collection, meaning we don’t get some enjoyable minor gems like “Crackerbox Palace” (#19 in 1977) or “Wake Up My Love” (which barely charted in 1982). Harrison’s Traveling Wilburys material (which could have included the top ten “Handle With Care” and “End of the Line”) is glossed over, but given the collaborative nature of that group, it probably makes sense.

A final note, just to be complete. The only Billboard charting George Harrison solo singles that don’t appear on any of the three collections are “Deep Blue” (which charted with its flip side, “Bangla Desh” at #23 in 1971) and “This Song” (#25 in 1977). (Click here for the “This Song” video:

Following is a master list of songs included on the three Harrison compilations, with the collection each track appeared on in parantheses. (BoGH = Best of, DH = Best of Dark Horse, LiR = Let It Roll) Anal dorks such as myself can assemble their own “Best of” from the list below.

  • Something (BoGH)
  • If I Needed Someone (BoGH)
  • Here Comes the Sun (BoGH)
  • Taxman (BoGH)
  • Think For Yourself (BoGH)
  • For You Blue (BoGH)
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps (BoGH)
  • My Sweet Lord (BoGH, LiR)
  • Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth (BoGH, LiR)
  • You (BoGH)
  • Bangla Desh (BoGH)
  • Dark Horse (BoGH)
  • What Is Life (BoGH, LiR)
  • Poor Little Girl (DH)
  • Blow Away (DH, LiR)
  • That’s the Way It Goes (DH)
  • Cockamamie Business (DH)
  • Wake Up My Love (DH)
  • Life Itself (DH)
  • Got My Mind Set On You (DH, LiR)
  • Crackerbox Palace (DH)
  • Cloud 9 (DH)
  • Here Comes the Moon (DH)
  • Gone Troppo (DH)
  • When We Was Fab (DH, LiR)
  • Love Comes to Everyone (DH)
  • All Those Years Ago (DH, LiR)
  • Cheer Down (DH, LiR)
  • Ballad of Sir Franie Crisp (LiR)
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps (live) (LiR)
  • All Things Must Pass (LiR)
  • Any Road (LiR)
  • This Is Love (LiR)
  • Marwa Blues (LiR)
  • Rising Sun (LiR)
  • Something (live) (LiR)
  • Here Comes the Sun (live) (LiR)
  • I Don’t Want to Do It (LiR)
  • Isn’t It a Pity (LiR)


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2 responses to “The Best(s) of George Harrison

  1. jon jordan

    There’s a real nice Harrison DVD set with videos and interviews which rocks.
    George Harrison – Dark Horse Years 1976-1992

    george was always my favorite.

  2. Barbara

    I really miss hearing Crackerbox Palace on the radio. I’m sorry it was not on George Harrison’s 2003 Anthology CD.

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