The perfect companion piece – the sensible companion piece to the earlier The Dark Horse Years 1976 – 1992. This beautifully styled 6 CD plus DVD and hardcover book set brings together all of the late guitarist’s earlier output – most notably, the long and often-forgotten Wonderwall Music (soundtrack music) and Electronic Sound (Moog synthesizer experimentation), both of which had been deleted and unavailable as quickly as they’d been released. The Apple Years 1968 – 75 includes George’s 1970 masterpiece All Things Must Pass (now in its original black and white sleeve); the equally high-quality Living In The Material World, 1974’s Dark Horse and the final “new” album Apple Records issued in 1975, Extra Texture.
While All Things Must Pass receives most of the attention for its three albums (2 CD’s) of George being “free from The Beatles”, filled with top notch songs/songwriting, there are some very high points to the other albums. Certainly, the worldwide hit single “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)” from Living In The Material World has to take some of the spotlight with its gentle acoustic guitars, George’s warm vocal and his trademark slide guitar. While Dark Horse has some great music on it, George’s vocals are the problem – a well-known flirtation with cocaine wreaked havoc on his voice; more often than not, he sounds raspy and straining – most notably on the title track (sometimes sarcastically referred to as “Dark Hoarse”). Nonetheless, there is some exquisite guitar playing here, especially on “So Sad” and the album’s opener, “Hari’s On Tour (Express)” – and it does include George’s tongue-in-cheek Christmas song, “Ding Dong, Ding Dong”. Extra Texture, the last album under George’s deal with Apple/EMI was almost an obligatory contract filler; aside from the single “You”, with its other Harrison trademark – the beefy horn section – there isn’t much to go on. However, George’s humor shines through in a very subtle manner with his nod to Fab-dom, “This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying)”; a sort-of sequel to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Fittingly, the Apple logo on the sleeve and the label show an eaten-away core, which spoke not only for the label but George’s approach towards this particular release.
DVD and book aside, this is a very good package if you do not have the earlier George Harrison canon, or if you’re like me, a die-hard completist. While George’s solo career had its peaks and valleys, The Apple Years 1968 – 75 are the best and most worthwhile.