Thursday, May 30, 2013

40 Year Itch : Use My Body Like A Car


It's easy to see why so many fans consider Living in the Material World George Harrison's most spiritual album. The album cover is a Kirlian photograph of Harrison's hand holding a Hindu medallion in his palm.
And then there are the songs.
   There's the future #1 single "Give Me Love ( Give Me Peace on Earth)" which Harrison called "a prayer and a personal statement between him, the Lord and whoever likes it". Just as Harrison had slipped some of the Hare Krishna mantra into "My Sweet Lord", he managed to incorporate the sacred word OM into the single. (It comes just before he says "My Lord").
   There are other songs of devotion: "The Lord Loves the One (That Loves the Lord)", "The Light That Has Lighted the World" and the title cut most obviously.

Perhaps turning 30 was a big deal for the youngest Beatle. He would have known it was at that age that the Buddha left his palace to seek the truth and Jesus started his public ministry.

The album isn't all spiritual. "Sue Me Sue You Blues", written in 1971,  is one of the most caustic statements about the Beatles break up.

Well, you serve me and I'll serve you
 Swing your partners, all get screwed
 Bring your lawyer and I'll bring mine
Get together, and we could have a bad time.

   After All Things Must Pass, Harrison's career was considered the most promising of all the former Beatles. But after waiting two and a half years, critics couldn't muster up a lot of enthusiasm for Living in the Material World. While Rolling Stone hailed it as a pop classic others tired of the album's "preachy overtones". "So damn holy, I could scream" said the NME reviewer. The album still managed to top the US charts and peaked at a respectable #2 in the UK.

  40 years later, it sounds a bit monotonous to these ears. Harrison sounds whiny at times and so does his slide guitar. But there are some very nice moments as well: the single, "Don't Let Me Wait Too Long" and the beautiful "That is All.". Still, I'd rank it among his best,  after All Things Must Pass and the overlooked 1979 lp George Harrison.

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