George Harrison: Dark Horse (1974)

Kronomyth 6.0: AT THE RISK OF BEATLING A DEAD HOARSE. Ahem. Let me just clear my throat before lighting into Dark Horse. George Harrison was going on tour and, since tours typically promote an album, he decided to record a new one. Only George was beset by a bad case of laryngitis during the recording sessions (and the subsequent tour), and what came out of the gate was more of a Dark Hoarse. The record still charted well enough in the US since The Beatles’ fans were a forgiving lot (exhibit A: Ringo Starr), but doff your rose-colored teashades and you’re looking at one of the lamest efforts from any of the Fab Four. “Ding Dong, Ding Dong,” which is about as good as it sounds, joined the dubious ranks of jingle bell rockers and remains the only track from Dark Horse that still shows up on American radio; presumably the English trot out “Dark Horse” from time to time as well. Of the remaining songs, “Simply Shady” is a bright spot, and “Maya Love” and “So Sad” aren’t so bad. But this album never should have been recorded; the material wasn’t there to support it and George’s voice was is no condition to do anything but butcher the few good ideas he had. Unlike the earlier, spiritual Material World, Dark Horse finds George in a less peaceful mood, striking back at Pattie and Eric Clapton (in a failed reworking of The Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love”) and what I always took to be a poke at Frank Sinatra in the opening of “Far East Man” (although, in his defense, Frank’s version of “Something” was nothing short of criminal). All in all, not the tastiest apple on the tree, despite the tantalizing cover—which was switched with the back cover on the Capitol non-gatefold reissues, probably to cut their costs/losses.

The Songs
1. Hari’s On Tour (Express) 4:40
2. Simply Shady 4:36
3. So Sad (No Love of His Own) 4:56
4. Bye Bye Love (Felice Bryant/Boudleaux Bryant) 4:05
5. Maya Love 4:20
6. Ding Dong, Ding Dong 3:39
7. Dark Horse 3:50
8. Far East Man (George Harrison/Ron Wood) 5:47
9. It Is “He” (Jai Sri Krishna) 4:45

All songs written by George Harrison unless noted.

The Players
George Harrison (guitar, vocals, other things, engineer breakdown), Tom Scott (horns, flute), Willie Weeks (bass) with Olivia Arias (“Trinidad Blissed Out” on track 7), Max Bennett (bass), Chuck Findley (flute), Robben Ford (guitar), Gub-Gubi (moog on track 8), John Guerin (drums), Nicky Hopkins (piano), Jim Horn (flute), Mick Jones (guitar), Roger Kellaway (piano), Jim Keltner (drums, hi-hats), Alvin Lee (electric guitar on track 6), Andy Newmark (drums), Billy Preston (electric piano), Emil Richards (crochet, wobble board), Ringo Starr (drums), Lon and Derek Van Eaton (“ooohhs” on track 7), Klaus Voormann (bass), Ron Wood (electric guitar on track 6), Gary Wright (piano). Produced by George Harrison; engineered by Phil “Angel” McDonald, Kumar Shankar (second engineer) and John Henry “Smith” (enginearly).

Did You Know?

  • Pattie are Eric Clapton were mistakenly credited as playing on “Bye Bye Love.” The song is about them, but Harrison himself handled all the instruments and vocals.
  • Harrison originally gave “So Sad” to Alvin Lee, who performed it on his 1973 album with Mylon LeFevre, On The Road To Freedom.
  • “Far East Man” first appeared on Ron Wood’s 1974 solo album, I’ve Got My Own Album To Do.

The Plastic
Released on elpee on December 9, 1974 in the UK (Apple, PAS 10008), the US (Apple, SMAS-3418) and Japan (Apple, EAS-80100) and in 1975 in Argentina (Apple, 8140); reached #4 on the US charts (RIAA certified gold record). Re-issued on elpee in December 1980 in the UK (MfP, MFP 50510), in 1980 in the US (Capitol, SN-16055) and in 1981 in France (MfP, 2M 02605774) with different cover. Re-issued on CD in 1992 in the US (Capitol, 98079).

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