Living in the Material World (1973)


 
1. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth) 2. Sue Me, Sue You Blues 3. The Light That Had Lighted the World 4. Don't Let Me Wait Too Long 5. Who Can See It 6. Living in the Material World 7. The Lord Loves the One (That Loves the Lord) 8. Be Here Now 9. Try Some Buy Some 10.The Day the World Gets 'Round 11.That is All

 

Undoubtably the most underrated piece of the George Harrison catalog. After the monstrous All Things Must Pass which was a triple album whopper, there really wasn't any direction that Harrison could go other than downwards, and shortly after this album he would unfortunately spiral down in a big way for a time. So perhaps people tend to look at this as the "beginning" of the end as opposed to a great piece of music that holds up very well on its own.

He's back again with Phil Spector, and that's pretty obvious upon listening, yet this record is toned down substantially. It doesn't quite have the over layered textures of its predecessor, and comes across as a little more personal, and a bit more from the heart. In other words, you can hear George quite clearly, both vocals and his guitar work, instead of being buried behind multiple keyboards and arrangements. That's not to say there's no accompaniment. Quite the contrary. This album is filled with string sections and keyboards, etc., but the placement is done so that it enhances rather than swallows the sound.

George "baring his soul" was not always welcome to all. He was still immersed in his newfound Indian religion, and there are echoes of that throughout the whole album. Even the album cover has traces of something-or-rather having to do with Eastern mysticism, and sadly the only song that doesn't quite work is the title track - which focuses more on getting the lyrics across as opposed to the melody.

Nowhere else is that a problem. These are some of the sweetest, most carefully planned tunes that George ever put out, and the fact that "singing" was never really George's strong point, it actually makes these songs better, since the voice is coming from someone sounding a bit more naked and humble.

Sometimes the lyrics get a bit sloppy. Sue Me, Sue You Blues, although not too bad, has a bit too much of a bite to it - probably in response to the recent litigation from the lawsuit where he was found guilty of plagiarizing The Chiffons with his track My Sweet Lord. Nicky Hopkins plays a mean piano here, and actually throughout the whole album. So good is he, that I actually thought I was listening to Billy Preston. Try Some, Buy Some is another head-scratcher. On first listen its rather kitschy, yet it grows on you and quickly became one of my favorites. And, yes, he's trying too hard on The Day the World Gets 'Round and sadly the song sounds like an almost intentional rip off of The Beatles' "Across the Universe". Differences are minimal. The rest of the album is a very pleasant, peaceful listen. Even when George is somewhat rocking, his message is so gentle that you can't help but love the songs, the music and even the man himself.

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