Concert for George

Original Soundtrack

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Concert for George Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

On November 29, 2002, a year after his death, a tribute concert for George Harrison was held at Royal Albert Hall. Friends and family gathered to play his songs, and it was an impressive, if predictable, roster: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Tom Petty, and Eric Clapton, who also served as musical director, took center stage, but George's son Dhani Harrison was also there, as was Ravi Shankar's daughter Anoushka, early British rock & roller Joe Brown, and Gary Brooker. Unlike many all-star lineups, everybody had a close personal connection to George, which gave the music a real sense of warmth that shines through even when the performances are a little too professional. This can all be heard on Warner Strategic Marketing's double-disc souvenir of the concert, Concert for George. It spans two discs, but it's likely most listeners will skip over the first disc, devoted to Shankar's music plus a version of "The Inner Light" sung by Jeff Lynne, and listen to the second, which is filled with Harrison's big songs, including the Carl Perkins covers he sang in the Beatles and "Photograph," which he wrote for Starr. By and large, these are enjoyable, albeit a tad slick, performances and if Clapton sometimes sounds a little hoarse, he more than makes up for it by expertly leading the band. The most noteworthy and moving set is by McCartney, who does a lovely version of "All Things Must Pass," has fun with "For You Blue," and kicks off "Something" only accompanied by ukulele, an instrument beloved by George, and an arrangement that works so well it's a bit of a disappointment when the full band kicks in. While this isn't an album that would likely get much play -- seeing this in person would have been remarkable; at home, it's much more likely that you'd play George's own record as a tribute instead of listening to this -- it's a very good tribute concert, one that is heartfelt and enjoyable.

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