History: After the disastrous release of Dark Horse and the American tour that followed it, George once again focused on getting Dark Horse Records off the ground. But when one of the bands was unavailable for studio time that had already been booked, George jumped on the chance to make his final album commitment to Apple and EMI Records. The album was primarily recorded in Los Angeles, and bandmates report that George was still heavily using drugs at this point, but the good news is that his voice was back in good shape.
My own personal history and initial prediction: This one is a complete unknown to me. I’ve never heard that album name before and I think the only song that sounds vaguely familiar is “This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying)” since it’s such a similar title to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” I’m trying to be optimistic after Dark Horse and figure George can only improve from there, but I guess we will see.
What I worked on while listening:
I’ve started another gem painting. I thought it might be fun to keep it in close up until I get further along so y’all can guess what it is.
Review: My first impression is that this album is sort of what Dark Horse could have been if George had dedicated a little more time to it and waited out his vocal issues. It’s very ballad heavy, and it has a melancholy theme to it with lots of sad songs, though this time around I feel like he struck the right balance with that a lot better. They’re sad, but not depressing and still pleasing to your ears. Apparently George was trying to replicate Smokey Robinson’s style a bit here. I don’t know if he manages to reach soulful by my ears exactly, but I do still enjoy it.
“You” is a more traditional love song, positive in its lyrics even if it’s a bit simple. It’s probably pretty telling that he actually wrote this one back in 1971 before his relationship really crumbled apart. “The Answer’s at the End” feels like it’s probably more relevant to what he was going through in 1975, but I do really love its sentiment, the idea of remembering that it’s easy to recognize the faults in those we know the best, but that we should still forgive them and embrace them for all their good qualities instead.
“This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying)” is a sequel to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” mostly just in the theme of the song title and also the fact that there’s a good amount of slide guitar present. Lyrically this was George attempting to bite back at the critics of his last album, an interesting juxtaposition of him saying that he’s not going to let their hate get to him but the guitar is pretty upset about it. “World of Stone” also feels pretty personal, with George expressing his feelings against what seems a cold and uncaring world, with the final line an admission that he had wandered away from his faith at this point and time. I also really love the way that one gradually builds and changes as the song goes along.
“Can’t Stop Thinking About You” initially had me quite worried, as he repeated that line alone enough times in the first 50 seconds or so that I was starting to think it was going to be the whole song. Fortunately it’s not, and the song is a good ballad once he gets it going. I do wonder if that repetition does show the somewhat rushed nature of this recording session though.
The album isn’t 100% sad ballads all the way through though, as “Tired of Midnight Blue” actually has a really nice blues groove to it despite its downer lyrics. And the whole album ends with “His Name is Legs (Ladies and Gentlemen)” which as you can imagine from that title is quite silly. This was another song recorded earlier, but I think it does a good job of showing George’s sense of humor and fits well here as he was just starting to work with Eric Idle and the rest of Monty Python.
While I wouldn’t put this album near the top of the list of George’s work, it does at least have a nice sound and I’m glad to hear him back on track. Hopefully he’ll continue to improve from here and maybe even write a few more positive songs going forward.
Next Time: Paul is back again with Wings at the Speed of Sound.