Tuesday, December 9, 2014

40 Year Itch : On a Dark Race Course

  On December 9, 1974 a hoarse-sounding George Harrison released his fifth studio album, Dark Horse. It's an album that plays like a series of journal entries in one of Harrison's most tumultuous years. He called 1974 "a bad domestic year". And that's an understatement.

 He indulged in naughty adventures with alcohol, and drugs which led to affairs with the wives of some of his friends ( Maureen Starr and Ronnie Wood's wife Krissy). These are referenced in the songs "Simply Shady" and "So Sad". ( He feels so alone /With no love of his own/ So sad, so bad, so sad, so bad).

Harrison and Peter Sellers walking around Friar Park

  His wife Pattie described the year in this way: "That whole period was insane. Friar Park was a madhouse. Our lives were fuelled by alcohol and cocaine, and so it was with everyone who came into our sphere ... George used cocaine excessively and I think it changed him." Boyd would leave Harrison for his best friend Eric Clapton. 

      In his cover of the Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye Love" Harrison makes a not so subtle reference: "There goes our lady, with a-you-know-who / I hope she's happy, old Clapper too". Both Patti and Clapper sing back-up. Ouch!

   There were some good reviews for the album but it is the Rolling Stone critic Jim Miller's review that left its mark:

 Yet it is only in the wake of his disastrous tour and Dark Horse, his disastrous album, that George Harrison finally stands naked. For his new record, Harrison hired a band of merely competent studio pros, saddled himself with a passel of preachy lyrics and then cut the album hoarse, his voice whining offensively, turning each idiot phrase into a prickly barb. Harrison's modest skills suddenly dwindle, overshadowed by the misplaced pride that permitted him to release such a shoddy piece of work.

No comments:

Post a Comment