George Harrison

Dark Horse

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With his first solo tour looming ahead in November and December of 1974, George Harrison felt impelled to rush out a new album, and even a steadily worsening case of laryngitis wouldn't stop him. Would that it did, for the appallingly weak state of his voice would torpedo this album and the tour, to his great embarrassment. "Hari's on Tour (Express)" -- with Tom Scott's L.A. Express churning out all-pro L.A.-studio jazz/rock -- gets the doomed project off to a spirited start, but it's an instrumental, and Harrison's vocal distress becomes obvious to all in the next track, "Simply Shady." Some of George's tunes -- particularly the title track and the exquisite "Far East Man" -- might have benefited from waiting for a better time to record, while others probably could not have been saved. The recording quality, like the voice, has a raw, coarse-grained sound that belies the impeccable musicianship. Dark Horse is perhaps most notorious for Harrison's bitter, slipshod rewrite of the Everly Brothers' hit "Bye Bye Love" -- referring openly to George's wife Pattie running off with Eric Clapton and, for good measure, having both of them on the session! Dark Horse would also be the name of Harrison's soon-to-be-formed new label, as well as a metaphor for the underestimated Beatle who leaped artistically and commercially ahead of his three colleagues immediately after the Beatles' breakup. Unfortunately, this album -- despite its humorous Sgt. Pepper parody on the cover and outright plea to critics on the margins of the inside jacket to go easy on its contents -- would only undermine Harrison's hard-fought campaign for respect.

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