Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Peter Gabriel - So



So is Peter Gabriel’s fifth studio album since he departed Genesis in 1975.  I’ve been listening to his music for over 30 years, and this album is quite unlike the others he had done until this point.  There are many adjectives to describe Peter Gabriel’s work prior to So:  creepy, moody, paranoid, murky, unorthodox, angry, claustrophobic, brooding.  Those words don’t apply here.  Daniel Lanois’ production gives all the instruments room to breathe.  It provides an ambience one doesn’t hear on other Peter Gabriel albums.  There are loud songs, there are quiet songs.  Instead of all gloom and doom like the “Melt” album or Security, there’s some happiness to be heard on So.  Could it be that Peter Gabriel was having fun for once?  There are songs on this album that everybody can like.  That doesn’t mean that Peter Gabriel “sold out” – he hasn’t.  There are still some somber bits [Don’t Give Up, Mercy Street], his experimental side is still present [This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds), We Do What We're Told (Miligram's 37)], but there are bits of levity as well [Sledgehammer, Big Time].  Absent [for this album anyway] are the long soundscapes like The Family and the Fishing Net [Security], as is the eerie mystery of Intruder [Melt]. 

Red Rain grabs the listener right away.  After making four albums without any “metal” [cymbals and hi-hats] on them, the first thing you hear is Stewart Copeland’s hi-hat.  Immediately you know this isn’t going to be a typical Peter Gabriel album.  The sound of Tony Levin’s fretless bass is unlike anything I’ve ever heard on a PG album – you can hear it, and you can feel it. It isn’t buried in the mix like on previous efforts, and it isn’t a keyboard bass.  Having heard what Tony Levin could do with King Crimson [Discipline, Beat, Three of a Perfect Pair] I thought his talents had been sorely underutilized – not so with Red Rain.  What is it about?  For years I thought “red rain” was a metaphor for nuclear fallout.  This was the Cold War after all – the Russians had their missiles in Europe, and Ronald Reagan had his.  And having read about it, it seems I wasn’t too far off the mark.  Peter Gabriel said it was about an “apocalyptic dream” that he had, and he created music to match the mood.  Red Rain is a very dramatic piece, and a great way to open an album.

Red Rain

Sledgehammer – Who knew that a white English guy could pay such a loving tribute to the Stax sound?  The subject of this tribute?  Sex!  The song is full of clever turns of a phrase ["You could have a steam train / If you'd just lay down your tracks" and "Open up your fruitcake / Where the fruit is as sweet as can be"].  The Claymation video from the guys who created Wallace and Gromit is probably the best video ever made.  Its popularity on MTV [I think it is their most-played video ever – a record that’ll never be broken since they don’t play music anymore] no doubt helped So’s sales rocket into the stratosphere.  A big bonus – Memphis Horns alum Wayne Jackson plays on this.  Nothing says “authentic” like a Stax tribute with one of the original Stax horn players.

Sledgehammer

Don’t Give Up – PG’s take on what it feels like to get laid off and how worthless one feels when he does.  Kate Bush is wonderful, singing as a wife trying to keep up his spirits.  He’s full of despair, she provides hope.  This song reeks of Daniel Lanois’ ambience [a good thing].

That Voice Again – More excellent bass work from Tony Levin.  I like how the song alternates between major chords on the verses and the chorus and minor piano chords on the bridge.  What voice is he hearing anyway?  Is it his conscience, or is it like Magnum PI’s “little voice” that always warned him of danger?

Mercy Street – Dedicated to poet Anne Sexton.  PG wrote this after reading Anne Sexton’s posthumously published poem 45 Mercy Street.  This piece of ambience is a very dark and haunting song.  The guitar sounds like something Andy Summers would do on Ghost in the machine [Secret Journey, specifically].  Guitarist David Rhodes nailed Summers’ sound perfectly, just not as loudly.

Big Time – Son of Sledgehammer.  The way the CD is sequenced, this song is in a good place to follow the somber Mercy Street.  Where did that funky guitar come from?  Who are you, and what have you done with the Peter Gabriel I knew?  Underneath the dance music there is scathing commentary about conspicuous consumption.  This is biting satire at its very best.  Lyrically this song is the complete opposite of Don’t Give Up. This song has one of the coolest basslines one will ever hear on any song anywhere because drummer Jerry Marotta hits the strings on Tony’s Levin’s fretless bass while Tony Levin did the fretwork.  Both are credited with “Drumstick Bass.”  Years later Tony Levin would invent Funk Fingers, which are essentially drumsticks you can attach to your fingertips.  I’ve seen him play with them – very cool.

Big Time

We Do What We’re Told (Miligram’s 37) – “We do what we’re told” – wash, rinse, repeat.  Very robotic, this hypnotic trance leaves me wondering how it would continue if hadn’t stopped after only 3 ½ minutes.

This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds) – Written with Laurie Anderson, who also appears here.  Is there really a song here?  Not that it matters because it sounds great on headphones.  It sounds very mechanical to me, like the “song” that came immediately before it.  I think it has the same trance-like qualities of We Do What We’re Told (Miligram’s 37).

In Your Eyes is a rarity in the Peter Gabriel songbook – a love song.  I read somewhere it started out as a poem to his then-wife Jill.  Cameron Crowe made an excellent choice when he picked this song for the Jon Cusack boom-box scene in Say Anything.  Senegal’s Youssou N'Dour provided a vocal in his native tongue.  I have no idea what he’s singing, but for 41 seconds as the song fades out he sounds like he’s expressing unbridled joy.

In Your Eyes

So is a rare album in that there’s nowhere you need to hit the “skip” button on your CD player [or iPod or any other MP3 player of your choice].  I can’t even make that claim for any Beatles album.  It sounds like it was made in the 1980s, but I can’t hold that against Peter Gabriel because this album sounds great.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Skyfall



I’ve been watching James Bond movies for as long as I can remember.  The first Bond movie I remember seeing was From Russia With Love.  The most enduring image I have of that movie was seeing Rosa Klebb slugging Red Grant [Robert Shaw] in the stomach with brass knuckles – and he didn’t even flinch.  But I digress…Almost all of the Bond movies have a common theme – some organization [SPECTRE] or country [the Soviet Union] is trying to take over the world.  Or some guy wants to enrich himself with all the world’s gold [Goldfinger].  Of course, James Bond is the guy who prevents it all from happening.  Skyfall is a different kettle of fish.  It is a good old-fashioned tale of revenge.  But unlike License to Kill where James Bond is the one seeking revenge, it is the villain who is seeking revenge.  Javier Bardem plays that villain.  He is an ex-MI6 agent named Raoul Silva [his real name was Tiago Rodriguez] who wants kill not James Bond, but the head of MI6, M [Judi Dench].

The story starts in Istanbul.  Bond is chasing a guy named Partrice, who has stolen the hard drive from an MI6 laptop that has a list of all the NATO agents who have penetrated terrorist organizations.   He’s in the field with an agent named Eve [Naomie Harris].   After riding a motorcycle through the bazaars of Istanbul, Bond finally catches up with Patrice on a train outbound from Istanbul.  Eve also gives chase, all the while M was micromanages the whole operation safely from her desk in London.  As the train approaches a tunnel, Eve has the time to shoot Patrice, but the problem is the shot is not a clean one because Patrice and Bond are wrestling on top of the train.  M tells the agent to take the shot.  She takes the shot and hits Bond, who falls off the train, over the bridge the train was crossing, and into a river below – presumed dead.  I thought about You Only Live Twice, where Bond was “killed” - what’s old is new again.

So while everybody thinks Bond is dead, M is called to the office of Gareth Mallory [Ralph Fiennes], a political type who is the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.  During the meeting he informs M that she will “retire” in two months time over the affair of the missing hard drive.  She has none of it and returns to MI6. Before she can return to her office, her Chief of Staff Tanner notices on his laptop that her own laptop was being hacked.  There is a traffic jam on a bridge that keeps her from MI6.  When she gets out of the car to protest the traffic jam she witnesses a huge explosion at MI6, right where her office was.    Seven MI6 personnel are killed in the blast.  Bond takes advantage of being “dead.”  He lives on the beach with a woman who doesn’t talk.  He plays drinking games at the local beachside bar.  He just hangs out, living a somewhat normal existence until he sees that MI6 headquarters was bombed.  When he sees the explosion at MI6 on CNN, he decides to resurrect himself.

When M is dropped off at her apartment following the services for the dead MI6 agents, she is met by a stranger who is shrouded in darkness.  The “stranger” is Bond.  Is she happy to see him?  Of course not – M is all business all the time.  She informs Bond he is to report back to MI6 to take a battery of tests to get re-qualified as a MI6 agent.  Instead of going back to the MI6 building, Tanner takes Bond to an underground location [because they’re on a ‘war footing’].  It turns out the underground location used to be Churchill’s bunkers during World War II.  Bond takes the tests, flunks all of them [unknown to him] and is cleared for return to duty by M.  She gives him the assignment to find Patrice in Shanghai, find out to whom he gave the hard drive, and then “terminate” him as revenge for the bombing of MI6.

Bond tracks Patrice down in Shanghai.  After Patrice completes his next job, Bond fights with him and kills Patrice before he could find out who has the hard drive.  When Bond went through Patrice’s things, he found a chip from a casino in Macau.  So Bond goes to Macau, cashes the chip, and is given a briefcase full of millions of Euros.  There he meets Sévérine, whom Bond saw when Patrice did his last job in Shanghai.  She tells Bond that her three body guards will kill him after she leaves him at the bar.  She also tells him that if he survives the bodyguards, she could be found on a boat that would leave Macau in one hour.  On cue, the bodyguards attack, and predictably they all die.  And of course, Bond meets up with Sévérine.  After spending the night on the boat, they discover they’re sailing to an abandoned island off the Chinese coast.

After landing on the island, Bond and Sévérine are separated.  Bond finally meets the guy with the hard drive – Raoul Silva.  He regales Bond with tales of how he was a great agent [better than Bond], and how human espionage was such an antiquated line of work.  Silva is now a cyber terrorist – he’s very good at hacking anything.  He tries to mind screw Bond about how he had once been M’s favorite in the Hong Kong office, but that she also lied to him and betrayed him.  Shortly thereafter, Silva kills Sévérine, but Bond overpowers all of Silva’s men, captures Silva and has him brought back to London.  After Silva and M come face to face, M reveals that Silva did indeed work for her in Honk Kong, but that he ‘went beyond his brief” when he got into computer hacking.  She reveals she gave him up to the Chinese in exchange for some MI6 agents held by the Chinese.  She said it was something that had to be done to insure a smooth transition of Hong Kong from British to Chinese control.  Silva revealed he resisted Chinese torture to keep MI6’s secrets, but after he could take no more torture he tried to kill himself by swallowing a cyanide capsule, but the poison didn’t kill him – it only disfigured him.  Hence, his motive for seeking revenge against M.  In his mind, she betrayed him.

The new Q s quite a whiz at computer hacking himself, and is able to crack the ingenious encryption on Silva’s laptop.  But when he cracked the code, it created a security breach within MI6’s own network and allowed Silva to escape.  The whole episode of Silva’s capture and return to London was a ruse to get closer to M to kill her.  While M is testifying before a public inquiry into her handling of the missing hard drive, Silva breaks into the hearing room and begins shooting everybody in sight.  He almost got M, but Mallory made her duck out of the way, taking a bullet in the shoulder in the process.  Little did he know that he gained Bond’s respect by taking the bullet for M.  He had thought of Mallory as just another political hack to be endured.  Immediately Bond hatches a plan to get M out of danger.  He lays a trap for Silva.  He instructs Q to leave a trail that only Silva can detect and follow – Mallory gives his blessing.

All company cars [including the one that takes M everywhere she goes] have a tracker, so Bond takes M to an out-of-the-way garage.  Bond explains to M he’s ditching the company car because of the tracking device installed.  What’s in the garage?  It’s an old Aston Martin coupe, just like from the old days.  I laughed out loud – what’s old is new again.  When asked about the plan, Bond responds the two of them are going to go back in time to gain the advantage over Silva.  The two head north to Scotland and end up at the family estate in Scotland, the name of which is Skyfall.  The two are met at Skyfall by Kincade [Albert Finney], who had been the gamekeeper at the estate since Bond was a boy.  They don’t have much in weaponry to repel the attack they know is coming, so they improvise some booby traps laid all over the house for the unwanted guests.
Sure enough, Silva and his boys arrive at Skyfall by helicopter, which is blazing the Animals playing the old John Lee Hooker song Boom Boom [which reminds one of the Wagner/helicopter scene from Apocalypse Now].  Bond, M, and Kincade fight off the first wave of attackers.  Then M and Kincade escape the man house through a priest hole and a tunnel to get to the family cemetery and a small chapel.  M is wounded in the fighting.  Bond managed to rig his own IEDs by rigging up a couple of huge propane tanks to a couple of sticks of dynamite.  Once the dynamite blows, shrapnel from the house hits the helicopter, damaging the helicopter so badly it crashed into the house, destroying both the helicopter and the house [Bond said he always hated the place…].

Silva tracks M and Kincade to the chapel.  He begs M to kill both himself and M with the same gun.  After having fought on of Silva’s henchmen, Bond arrives at the chapel and kills Silva by throwing a knife into his back.  He sees M is wounded, and she collapses.  She looks into Bond’s eyes and mutters something about “getting something right.”  Then, she dies in Bond’s arms – he cries.

Back in London, Eve tracks down Bond on the roof of MI6.  She hands him a package.  It was bequeathed to him by M.  Inside the box is a ceramic British bulldog, which earlier in the movie Bond had scoffed at.  Eve suggests that this was a message from M to Bond to get a desk job.  He says the opposite is true.  Eve confesses that field work isn’t for her and they both go inside.  He says they haven’t been properly introduced, so she reveals her last name – Moneypenny.  Again, I had to laugh out loud. What’s old is new again.  She takes her position behind a desk as the new M’s secretary.  Who is the new M?  Gareth Mallory.  But of course…

I figure the reason the makers of the Bond films killed off Judi Dench is because of Dame Judi’s recent health problems.  Apparently she can barely see anymore.  She has macular degeneration and has to have someone read scripts to her.  She is and always has been a wonderful actress.  Javier Bardem made an excellent villain.  This is the same guy who was Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Man, another ruthless, villainous character.  Ralph Fiennes, though he didn’t get much on-screen time, effortlessly made his character transition from a political hack into one who didn’t hesitate to face the fire when the time came.  As for Daniel Craig, it’s his best Bond yet.  This movie called for Bond to be a ruthless, thuggish killing machine – much like the James Bond character that Ian Fleming envisioned when he first created the character.  Sean Connery will always be James Bond, but Daniel Craig has cemented that role for now.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tony's Guitarist Picks - George Harrison



George Harrison – He was the lead guitarist of The Beatles, the first and most enduring musical love of my life. There are many guitar players who can play rings around George Harrison.  He would be the first one to admit it if he was still with us.  After all, he got Eric Clapton to play the solo on While My Guitar Gently Weeps because he knew EC could play it better.  During 1967, he played little guitar at all because he was more interested in the sitar and Indian music.  He was not flashy – he didn’t have to be.  All of this doesn’t matter to me.  The way he played, he made every note count.  George Harrison was my first guitar hero, and will always be one of my favorite guitar players. 

Influences – Lonnie Donnegan, Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, Chet Atkins, Duane Eddy and Scotty Moore.  You will notice there are no blues players on this list.  George came from a completely different place than most of his contemporaries.

The guitars [just to name a few]–
1957 Gretsch Duo Jet 6128 [pictured on Cloud 9, Please Please Me sessions]]
1962 Gretsch 6122 Chet Atkins Country Gentleman [With The Beatles sessions]
1963 Gretsch 6122 Chet Atkins Country Gentleman [played on The Ed Sullivan Show, 1964]
1962 Gretsch 6119 Tennessean [Beatles For Sale sessions, played at Shea Stadium, 1965]
1961 Fender Stratocaster [“Rocky” – psychedelic paint job, Rubber Soul sessions]
1963 Rickenbacker 360/12 [A Hard Day’s Night, Ticket to Ride, You Can’t Do That, If I Needed Someone]
1964 Gibson SG Standard [Revolver sessions, Hey Bulldog solo]
1965 Epiphone Casino [road guitar in 1966, Sgt Pepper sessions]
1968 Fender Telecaster [Rosewood] [Let It Be sessions]
1957 Gibson Les Paul Standard [“Lucy” - White Album, Abbey Road sessions]
Gibson J-200 acoustic [vintage unknown] [White Album, Let It Be, Abbey Road sessions]












"Rocky"















Gretsch Duo-Jet














"Lucy"

All those chords.  Mark Knopfler wrote Sultans of Swing a long time ago.  There’s one line I always thought was about George Harrison – Check out Guitar George, he knows all the chords…  I’m sure that wasn’t Knopfler’s intent to name check George Harrison, but it doesn’t matter.  Paul McCartney said on many occasions that one big reason George got into the Beatles was because he knew more chords than anybody else.  I’d Have You Anytime alone has over twenty chords in it. [!]

THE Chord – With his 12-string Rickenbacker, George played one of the most iconic openings of a song anywhere in recorded music – the opening chord of A Hard Day’s Night.  Plain and simple, that single chord is the “big bang” of both Beatlemania and the British Invasion.

Riffs – Riffs were more John Lennon’s department, but George could come up with a riff if needed.  George had riffs for the other Beatles – the 12-string riffs on You Can’t Do That and Ticket To Ride are unmistakably his.  The acoustic riff for And I Love Her is his.  Other riffs that I think are his [but I can’t very] include Octopus’s Garden, Paperback Writer, Rain, And Your Bird Can Sing and She Said She Said. For his own stuff, there’s Isn’t It a Pity, What Is Life and Wah-Wah.  Here Comes the Sun has an unforgettable acoustic riff.  Something is also unforgettable.  If I Needed Someone is another 12-string riff from Rubber Soul.

Whatever the song needs.  George proved that one can be a lead guitar player and not have to play any solos.  The Beatles’ catalog is full of songs where George will play a fill here, a riff there, and not play a solo.  On Drive My Car, George played the same lines on guitar that Paul played on bass in unison.  One can’t tell where the guitar ends and where the bass begins – it sounds like one instrument.  George got his inspiration for that after hearing Otis Redding’s Respect.  They did the same thing on Old Brown Shoe.  On Help! he plays the descending figure while John sings “Won’t you please, please help me.  On I’ve Got a Feeling, John plays the intro, but after the first verse ends George announces his presence in a way that’s like he’s kicking a door down.  On Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds you can hear him echo John’s vocal with his guitar.  Another great guitar track is Dear Prudence from the White Album.  John and George weave quite a tapestry of acoustic and electric guitars.  I can go on, and on, and on…  For the Ringo album [1973], John, George and Ringo were all on I’m the Greatest with Billy Preston and Klaus Voorman, just one Beatle shy of a full reunion.  George played all the fills, and a nasty guitar during the song’s fade-out.


I'm the Greatest

The Indian instruments.  The sitar part on Norwegian Wood [This Bird Has Flown] is not George’s only Indian contribution to the Beatles’ music.  He played the swarmandel [an Indian zither] on Strawberry Fields Forever, Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, and Across the Universe.  He played the droning tambura on Getting Better and Tomorrow Never Knows.  The sitar is prominent in the songs Within You Without You, Love You To and The Inner Light.

Acoustic.  Here Comes the Sun, All Things Must Pass, While My Guitar Gently Weeps [Take 1], And I Love Her, For You Blue, Be Here Now, Norwegian Wood [This Bird has Flown], If Not For You, Long Long Long. ‘Nuff said.

Rhythm.  George was a pretty fair rhythm guitarist.  The Beatles had a very good rhythm guitarist in John Lennon [check out All My Loving for proof], but there are quite a few songs in the Beatles’ catalog where John either plays the rare lead [Get Back] or doesn’t play guitar at all.  In those cases, George can be heard to play rhythm on Taxman [giving the lead to Paul], Oh! Darling, Get Back, and I’m Happy Just To Dance With You.  That’s him playing the rhythm guitar on Cream’s Badge.  In his own solo work, he was content to play mostly rhythm on the All Things Must Pass album because he had a pretty good lead guitar player [Eric Clapton].  He was the only guitarist on his Living in the Material World album, and there’s plenty of good rhythm playing, especially on Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth), the title track, and The Lord Loves The One (That Loves The Lord). 

The Slide – George didn’t start playing the slide in earnest until he was an ex-Beatle.  Once he did, it became his trademark.  He would play the slide not only on his own work, but that of others too. His slide playing can be found lots of places.  Here are but a few of them:

Day After Day [Badfinger, Straight Up – 1972]
Back Off Boogaloo [Ringo Starr single, 1972]
Gimme Some Truth [John Lennon, Imagine - 1971]
How Do You Sleep [John Lennon, Imagine - 1971]
Crippled Inside – Dobro [John Lennon, Imagine - 1971]
I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier [John Lennon, Imagine - 1971]
My Sweet Lord [All Things Must Pass, 1970]
Isn’t It a Pity [All Things Must Pass, 1970]
If Not For You [All Things Must Pass, 1970] – one of my favorite Dylan covers ever…
Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth) [Living in the Material World, 1973]
Sue Me, Sue You Blues [Living in the Material World, 1973]
Woman Don’t You Cry For Me [33 1/3, 1976]
Crackerbox Palace [33 1/3, 1976]
Blow Away [George Harrison, 1979]
Faster [George Harrison, 1979]
That’s the Way It Goes [Gone Troppo, 1982]
Mystical One [Gone Troppo, 1982]
Cloud 9 [Cloud 9, 1987]
Handle With Care [Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, 1988]
Tweeter and the Monkey Man [Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, 1988] – slide on a twelve-string!
Free as a Bird [Beatles Anthology 1, 1995]
Any Road [Brainwashed, 2002]
Cheer Down [Let It Roll: The Songs of George Harrison, 2009]

Favorite Guitar Solos – George didn’t play long guitar solos - he didn’t have to.  Beatles songs weren’t long enough for anybody to stretch out.  The Beatles weren’t known for their instrumental virtuosity.  They were known for their songs and their singing.  But George usually got to do a solo.  When George didn’t do it, John or Paul did.  Except for the first two solos I listed, the rest appear in a somewhat chronological order.

Nowhere Man [Rubber Soul, 1965] – This solo is at the top of my list.  This is what a Stratocaster with no effects sounds like.  I still have no idea how he got that “ping” at the end of the solo. 

A Hard Day’s Night [A Hard Day’s Night, 1964] – George proves it is possible to play a solo on a twelve-string.  There’s a piano matching the twelve-string note for note on the solo, giving the sound a very unique character.

I Saw Here Standing There [Please Please Me, 1963] – By Beatles standards this is a long solo.  Fifty years after this track was cut, you can still feel the excitement bursting from your stereo speakers.

Everybody’s Trying to be My Baby [Beatles For Sale, 1964] – George channels Carl Perkins, and why not – this is a Carl Perkins song.  Many English guitar players were influenced by the blues.  George was influenced by rockabilly.  George plays two solos, the second of which is another long one [by Beatles standards].

I’m Only Sleeping [Revolver, 1966] – This is John Lennon’s song, but he wanted a backwards guitar solo.  How do you play a guitar solo backwards?  According to Geoff Emerick, it took George six hours to figure out how the notes he would play could be transposed backwards to give the solo a “yawning” feeling.  And he did it a year before Hendrix did it on Are You Experienced? 

It’s All Too Much [Yellow Submarine, 1969] –On this six minute-plus feedback freakout from Yellow Submarine, George plays a nifty 15-second solo.

Hey Bulldog [Yellow Submarine, 1969] – This one is the nastiest solos George recorded with the Beatles.  After spending almost a year NOT playing guitar, he laid down this.

One After 909 [Let It Be, 1970] – This one is live from the Apple rooftop recorded in 1969.  It sounds like the guys are having fun.  This is proof that the Beatles could cut it live.  George’s lead playing is flawless.


One After 909

Old Brown Shoe [single B-side, 1969] – This was the B-side to The Ballad of John and Yoko.  I think it’s the first time one can hear George playing a slide on a Beatles song.  But the solo is a very nimble little exercise played on a Telecaster through a Leslie speaker.

Something [Abbey Road, 1969] – George cut this one live with an orchestra in one take.

Octopus’s Garden [Abbey Road, 1969] – George played the opening riff, and he played another solo in the middle.  This sounds like George’s Chet Atkins influence coming to the fore.

You Never Give Me Your Money [Abbey Road, 1969] -  The bit where John and Paul are singing “one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, all good children go to heaven” features some tasty playing from George that sounds loosely like a riff from his own Here Comes the Sun.  He played this same riff at the end of Carry That Weight.  The difference between the two is he played through a Leslie on Carry That Weight.  


You Never Give Me Your Money

Let It Be [single, 1970] – I have three versions of Let It Be – the single, the album version from the original album, and the Let It Be…Naked version.   The version I grew up to like was the single version – a Fender telecaster played through a Leslie speaker.  The Let It Be…Naked version is also played like the single version [a Telecaster through a Leslie], but the album version is a gritty, dirty version that was probably done on a Les Paul.

The End [Abbey Road, 1969] – Paul, George and John each play three little two-bar solos, in that order.  John has a raunchy, distorted guitar tone on his Epiphone Casino, Paul also plays a Casino but his style is more stinging and a bit frantic [think Taxman and Sgt Pepper]. George is more melodic and polished, and plays a Les Paul.  According to engineer Geoff Emerick, they did the soling in one take.

Gimme Some Truth and How Do You Sleep [John Lennon – Imagine, 1971] – I have to mention both of these because when you first hear them, you have to do a double take.  That’s George?  No way!  But it is George, and his solos are especially vicious.


Gimme Some Truth

George Harrison was more than just a guitar player – he was a musician!  When he came on the scene with The Beatles, the early 1960s wasn’t exactly a place for guitar groups.  There was Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound productions, Motown, Brill Building songs by Lieber-Stoller, Goffin-King, Mann-Weil, and Doc Pomus (just to name but a few) for many people who just sang.  Guitar players like Hank Marvin, Dick Dale and Link Wray were instrumentalists – they didn’t sing [much].  The Beatles played and they sang.  They blazed the trail for other groups to follow.  George Harrison and his guitar playing were a not insignificant part of that trailblazing.