George Harrison

The Apple Years: 1968-75

(CD & DVD - Apple Records / Capitol / Universal / Universal Music #3791387)

Review by

Arriving ten years after The Dark Horse Years: 1976-1992, The Apple Years: 1968-75 offers the first act of George Harrison's solo career presented in a handsomely produced, impeccably remastered box set. The outside packaging mirrors The Dark Horse Years but the discs housed inside the box show a greater attention to detail than the previous set: each of the albums is presented as a paper-sleeve mini-LP replicating the original album art (Extra Texture does indeed have extra texture on its sleeve), while the brief hardcover book contains perhaps the glossiest paper to ever grace a rock music box set. Better still, the remastering of all six albums is superb. Supervised by Harrison's son Dhani, the team mastermind by Paul Hicks, who worked on the acclaimed 2009 Beatles remasters, and featuring Gavin Lurssen and Reuben Cohen, bring The Apple Years to the same sonic standard as the 2009 Beatles remasters and the results are rich, deep, and alluring (All Things Must Pass is from the 2001 George-directed remix, but a different remaster also applies to Living in the Material World, which is a different remaster than the 2006 reissue). There are bonus tracks but not many that are previously unreleased: just five, including an instrumental alternate of the Beatles' "The Inner Light," plus the throwaway "I Don't Care Anymore" and an early acoustic version of "Dark Horse," both added to Dark Horse. Similarly, the DVD recycles some previously seen footage, with its biggest draw being the original (and very silly) 1974 promo video for "Ding Dong," along with a TV commercial pushing Dark Horse. That means the draw for The Apple Years is naturally the albums themselves. All Things Must Pass is rightly regarded as the masterpiece but 1968's Wonderwall Music -- the first solo album by any Beatle -- is a bit of an unacknowledged gem, a frequently intriguing psychedelic relic that represents one of the first serious forays into world music by a Western musician (the bonus tracks on this are also quite good). Electronic Sound, released in 1969 on the Apple offshoot Zapple, is a synthesized throwaway but 1973's Living in the Material World often conjures a state of shimmering grace. Dark Horse (1974) is a mess but it's a fascinating one, alternating between bitter cynicism and weariness, while 1975's Extra Texture (Read All About It) finds George settling into an overblown soft rock groove. It's hard to deny the ups and downs to be found here, but combined they paint a picture of Harrison's complexities and contradictions, and the music has never sounded better -- and each album has never looked better -- than it does here.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 18:44 Amazon
2 25:07 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick