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George Harrison compiled

| July 31, 2009

Let It Roll: Songs By George Harrison


Two diametrically opposed camps have formed in response to this compilation. One wishes it had been two discs and included all of Harrison’s best work (his Traveling Wilburys songs included) and that the songs had been sequenced less haphazardly, both to reflect the trajectory of Harrison’s development (or at least his career) and to make for a less sonically jarring listening experience. The other camp says nuts to such cavils. Harrison’s catalog oozes greatness no matter how you slice it, they say, and to refuse to enjoy 19 examples from it simply because they’re not the 19 one would have preferred or sensibly sequenced is as petty as Harrison’s Wilbury partner Tom.

What neither camp has mentioned is the effect of 11 of this collection’s 78 minutes being taken up by Harrison-sung Beatles songs (“While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Something,” “Here Comes The Sun”) from the Concert For Bangladesh. Now, how many Beatles songs are on The John Lennon Collection or Paul McCartney’s Wingspan? None. Why? Because no one needs reminding that Lennon and McCartney were in The Beatles and because Lennon and Mcartney had enough fab solo material not to need Fab padding.

No one needs reminding that Harrison was a Beatle either (especially not with both “All Those Years Ago,” his Lennon tribute, and “When We Was Fab,” his Beatles tribute, on Let It Roll). So including the Bangladesh cuts while leaving off actual Harrison hits such as “Crackerbox Palace,” “This Song,” and “Love Comes To Everyone” implicitly diminishes his solo-artist stature.

The Bangladesh cuts also look like bait intended to convince owners of The Best Of George Harrison (1976) and Best Of Dark Horse 1976-1989 (1989) that they need Let It Roll, too. But many Harrison fans had hoped Let It Roll would be the single-disc Harrison best-of to end all single-disc Harrison best-ofs. Instead, its mix of hits, misses, redundancies, and obscurities makes it seem more like a teaser for a forthcoming box set.

Let It Roll does provide one useful service: It rescues 1985’s “I Don’t Want To Do It,” a Bob Dylan cover and one of Harrison’s finest singles, from the Porky’s Revenge soundtrack. And, as one might expect from an album containing “My Sweet Lord,” “Give Me Love,” and “What Is Life,” the tunefulness seldom lets up. But it needn’t have let up at all. Next time, somebody please get this right. 

Arsenio Orteza


Category: Columns, Monthly

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