George Harrison: Living In The Material World (1973)

After two triple albums, this one felt surprisingly immaterial.

Kronomoyth 5.0: My sued lord.

I remember that the B side for “My Sweet Lord,” “Isn’t It A Pity,” scared me off from buying All Things Must Pass for years. What if the other songs sound like that?, I wondered, doing the multiplication in my head with trepidation. Two years later, the sunny single for George Harrison’s modest Living in the Material World arrived and I wondered: What if the rest of the album sounds like “Give Me Peace” and “Miss O’Dell?” This was an album I had to own! Only, in retrospect, it turned out to be more Pity-full than George’s earlier Pass.

Living In The Material World is wonderfully packaged and expertly produced (I think) by George, but gone is the joy of tracks like “What Is Life,” “Wah-Wah,” “Awaiting On You All,” “I Dig Love,” etc. In essence, George the lighthearted Beatle had been replaced by George the enlightened Beatle, who turned out to be something of a killjoy. “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)” is at least a match for “My Sweet Lord,” the title track is neat, as is George’s version of “Try Some Buy Some,” but the rest of the record is minor-key music minus the memorable melodies of his earlier, grander opus.

You get the sense that George could write these songs any time, and in fact he revisited some of them on subsequent records like Thirty-Three & 1/3 (e.g., “The Light That Has Lighted The World” sounds a lot like “Learning How To Love You,” la la la). From a production standpoint, the Material World is more complex than I first imagined; I’m suspending final judgment until I hear this on a digital remaster. But I don’t suspect that any digital remaster will reveal melodies that were never there to begin with. Living In The Material World set the stage for a solo career that offered a respite from John and Paul rather than an alternative. All Things Must Pass, it turned out, was a fantasy world pieced together from bits of broken Beatles. Here was the real world, and the material was frankly a little dull in comparison.

Original elpee version

A1. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth) (3:32)
A2. Sue Me, Sue You Blues (4:43)
A3. The Light That Has Lighted The World (3:28)
A4. Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long (2:54)
A5. Who Can See It (3:49)
A6. Living In The Material World (5:27)
A7. The Lord Loves The One (That Loves The Lord) (4:32)
A8. Be Here Now (4:07)
A9. Try Some Buy Some (4:06)
A10. The Day The World Gets ‘Round (2:50)
A11. That Is All (3:40)

Expanded CD reissue bonus tracks
12. Deep Blue
13. Miss O’Dell

All songs written by George Harrison.

The Players

George Harrison (vocals, guitar), Nicky Hopkins (keyboards), Jim Horn (sax & flutes), Zakir Hussein (tabla), Jim Keltner (drums), Ringo Starr (drums), Klaus Voormann (bass), Gary Wright (keyboards) with John Barham (strings), Jim Gordon (drums on track 9). Produced by George Harrison except track 9 by George Harrison & Phil Spector. Recorded and remixed by Philip McDonald.

The Pictures

Album designed by Wilkes & Braun, Inc.; cover photography by Kendall L. Johnson, inside photograph by Ken Marcus.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and 8-track on May 30, 1973 in the US (Apple, SMAS3-3410), on June 22, 1973 in the UK and New Zealand (Apple, PAS/8X-PAS-10006), and in 1973 in Brazil (Odeon, SBTX-1026), Colombia (EMI Odeon, 11251), Germany (EMI Electrola, 1C 062-05370), Japan (Apple, EAS-80697) and Mexico (Apple, SLEM-473). Reached #2 on the UK charts and #1 on the US charts (RIAA certified gold record).

  1. Re-pressed on elpee in 1977 in Japan (Apples, EAS-80697).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in 1978 in France (Pathe Marconi, 2C 066 05370).
  3. Re-issued on elpee in 1980 in the US (Capitol, SN-16216) and in Japan (Apple, EAP-80840).
  4. Re-issued on cassette in Italy (Apple, 3C 244 05370).
  5. Re-issued on compact disc in 1991 in the UK (Parlophone, CDP 7 94110), Japan (EMI, TOCP-6952) and Japan again (EMI/Apple, TOCP-65542).
  6. Re-issued on compact disc on January 28, 1992 in the US (Capitol, 94110).
  7. Re-released on expanded elpee and compact disc on October 9, 2006 in the UK (Parlophone, 366899) and in 2006 in Japan (EMI, TOCP-70072) with 2 bonus tracks.
  8. Re-released on expanded elpee and CD (with same two bonus tracks plus DVD) in 2006 in the UK (Parlophone, 366900) and Japan (EMI, TOCP-70073).

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