Thirty Three and a Third (1976)


 
1. Woman Don't You Cry For Me 2. Dear One 3. Beautiful Girl 4. This Song 5. See Yourself 6. It's What You Value 7. True Love 8. Pure Smokey 9. Crackerbox Palace 10.Learning How to Love You

 

George Harrison had a very interesting career as a solo artist. His records seemed to be either very well received, or unmercifully panned by critics and fans. It became obvious in the seventies that maybe he just wasn't the same caliber of a songwriter as bandmates Lennon and McCartney and there was a reason why he was regulated to only a couple of songs per album. The best thing about all this is that Harrison truly never seemed to care. His newfound belief in God and Eastern religion seemed to truly have an impact on the gentleman, and he made very clear what his priorities were, which weren't necessarily music, and definitely not fame and stardom. All of this is to say that this release here was probably his most "Harrison like".

It's not a blockbuster with any dynamite songs, nor is it an embarrassment to his career and status as a former member of the greatest rock and roll band ever. It's simply a collection of mostly good songs that seems to highlight what George could do best - play a mean guitar and write some very decent pop melodies. This is an album that was definitely recorded in the seventies - the style has a very laid back, heavy production feel. It almost sounds as though there are too many instruments and too many musicians in the mix, but it all came out quite well, with Harrison's nasally voice and slide guitar taking prominence in the mix of each song.

For a guy who was awfully quiet and quite serious about his religious leanings, Harrison seemed to have a rather wry sense of humor about him as well, and sometimes it doesn't resonate particularly well on a rock album. The title of this record is cute, the number representing not only the speed of a long playing album, but also Harrison's age at the time of release. He still seems bitter about the whole "lawsuit" thing, and he tries to make light of it on the song This Song which doesn't quite meet expectations. Strange that it was released as a single. Other than that, this really isn't a "lyrics" album. He still sings about his faith, but the mantras and references to gurus aren't as recognizable, which means the tunes can resonate with more people. Good examples are Dear One and Pure Smokey.

You wouldn't think George covering a Cole Porter tune would work at all, yet it strangely does. His cover of True Love is arguably the best thing here. No, it doesn't quite "fit" well with everything else, but it's not so far removed from anything that it might be considered a deterrent. He does well. Other highlights include Crackerbox Palace and Woman Don't You Cry For Me.

This album made everyone remember why they loved George in the first place - not a dynamic personality, just a simple guy who played great guitar music that could, if he wanted to, stand out and be his own person.

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