George Harrison

Wonderwall Music

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The first Beatle solo album -- as well as the first Apple album -- was a minor eruption of the pent-up energies of George Harrison, who was busy composing this offbeat score to the film Wonderwall as Magical Mystery Tour raced up the charts. With the subcontinental influence now firmly in the driver's seat, the score is mostly given over to the solemn, atmospheric drones of Indian music. Yet, as a whole, it's a fascinating if musically slender mishmash of sounds from East and West, everything casually juxtaposed or superimposed without a care in the world. Harrison himself does not appear as a player or singer; rather, he presides over the groups of Indian and British musicians, with half of the cues recorded in London, the other half in Bombay. The Indian tracks are professionally executed selections cut into film cue-sized bites, sometimes mixed up with a rock beat, never permitted to develop much. Touches of Harrison's whimsical side can be heard in the jaunty, honky tonk, tack piano-dominated "Drilling a Home" and happy-trails lope of "Cowboy Museum," as well as a title like "Wonderwall to Be Here." Occasionally, the overt footsteps of a Beatle can be heard: "Party Secombe" is a medium-tempo rock track that should remind the connoisseur of "Flying"; "Dream Scene" has Indian vocals moving back and forth between the loudspeakers over backwards electronic loops. As this and Harrison's second experimental release, Electronic Sound, undoubtedly proved, pigeonholing this Beatle was a dangerous thing.

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