Tuesday, June 7, 2011
George Harrison - Somewhere In England
During the 70’s, I was transfixed with anything Beatles related. That meant I was forced to consider any number of Beatles solo project, or any item that was touched by a Beatle at one point.
It was too expensive to taste every item, but a boy could dream.
A boy could also walk away devastated by the murder of John Lennon and view McCartney’s off-the-cuff remarks about his former bandmate’s death as callous, completely negating any of his post-McCartney II work on the grounds of something that I had no real frame of reference on.
His death also had me consider two records by former Beatles as a matter of loyalty. And while I could only afford one of them, George Harrison’s Somewhere In England, I also had Ringo’s Stop And Smell The Roses on my radar. Both, from what I understood, had at least some reference to their former friend and this was an appropriate way for me to memorialize my favorite Beatle.
I went with Harrison because the last thing I’d heard from him-“Crackerbox Palace”-I rather enjoyed. Surely, Somewhere In England-a phrase coined when looking for comment from Harrison after Lennon’s death-would contain a worthy amount of good material.
After dropping the necessary amount on the full-length, it appeared that I was wrong.
Not only did it feature the needlessly sappy “All Those Years Ago,” it featured about nine other also-rans that cushioned the album’s only hit, all of them pointing to the fact that George’s heart just didn’t seem to be in record making any more, and dare I say it, song making.
Right out of the gate, Harrison laments how people want to hear Beatlesque material, when the reality was much different. We only wanted to hear good Harrison material. “Blood From A Clone” name-checks Frank Zappa about a decade too late while deriding current trends (“And not New Wave”/They don’t play that crap”) for no apparent reason other than to come across as a grouchy old man who can only find inspiration by bitching about others.
Even that aforementioned hit is standard-issue Harrison, complete with his weepy slide and the sound of settling for an earlier time, that really wasn’t all those years ago when you think about it. With only a decade removed from his fab past, a storyline he’d repeat again with the even shittier “When We Was Fab,” Harrison finds comfort in coming off like a middle-age crisis, rattling off easy observations about his Beatle brother instead of tapping into any semblance of emotion about the incident.
The lack of emotional quality is unsettling; a ghost writer could have written “All Those Years Ago” for all you can tell, and the rest of Somewhere In England points that tragedy may have been the only reason for issuing the album to begin with.