George Harrison – The Art Of Darkness (Mid Valley 427/428/429/430)

The Art Of Darkness (Mid Valley 427/428/429/430)

outer slip cover

Trident Studios, London, England – August to September 1970 

Disc 1 (76:44):  What Is Life #1 1. acoustic guitar 2. lead guitar, What Is Life #2 3. 2nd guitar 4. drums 5. piano + lead guitar, What Is Life #3 6. guitar 7. horns, Beware Of Darkness #1 8. lead guitar 9. acoustic + vibes 10. drums, Beware Of Darkness #2 11. lead guitar + vocal, Beware Of Darkness #3 12. piano + acoustic + vibes 13. guitar + drums, Beware Of Darkness #4 14. instruments 15. strings 16. vocal + guitar, You 17. lead guitar

Disc 2 (72:58):  Let It Down #1 1. bass 2. drums 3. guitar, Let It Down #2 4. vocals + bass, Let It Down #3 5. backing vocals + vocal 6. piano 7. organ, Let It Down #4 8. vocals 9. lead guitar + horns 10. organ + guitar, You 11. guitar

Disc 3 (76:39):  Apple Scruffs #1 1. vocals + harmonica 2. acoustic 3. percussion, Apple Scruffs #2 4. vocals + 2nd lead guitar, Apple Scruffs #3 5. vocals + harmonica + guitar 6. backing vocals 7. backing vocals,Awaiting On You All #1 8. bass 9. drums + slide guitar 10. guitar, Awaiting On You All #2 11. bass + slide guitar 12. more guitars 13. piano, Awaiting On You All #3 14. bass 15. horns + percussion 16. guitar + piano, Art Of Dying #1 17. bass + drums 18. rhythm guitars 19. lead guitar, Art Of Dying #2 20. piano + organ, Art Of Dying #3 21. piano + organ + drums 22. horns 23. horn, You 24. bass

Disc 4 (72:42):  Run Of The Mill #1 1. guitar + guide vocal 2. guitars 3. drums, Run Of The Mill #2 4. lead vocal 5. harmonium 6. piano, Run Of The Mill #3 7. lead vocal 8. horns + acoustic 9. piano + harmonium, Hear Me Lord #1 10. lead guitar + lead vocal 11. drums 12. organ, Hear Me Lord #2 13. vocal + guitar 14. piano 15. organ

The Art Of Darkness contains new outtakes from George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass sessions.  It takes nine tracks from the album and isolates the individual overdubs spanning several takes of each song.  The virtue of this is twofold.  Phil Spector’s production on the album was to lay down multiple instrumental tracks to produce his famous “wall of sound” where many of the instruments are “felt” rather than “heard.”  Listening to these four discs, one can gain appreciation for the many of the performance that, on the final mix, are buried too deep to be truly heard. 

Around the time of the thirtieh anniversary release of All Things Must Pass in 2000, George Harrison stated in interviews that he chose Phil Spector to produce his first solo album because, in working on The Beatles’ Let It Be and John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, he was readily available for the task.  In the liner notes of the new edition, he wrote:  “It’s been thirty years since All Things Must Pass was recorded.  I still like the songs on the album and believe they can continue to outlive the style in which they were recorded. It was difficult to resist re-mixing every track.  All these years later I would like to liberate some of the songs from the big production that seemed appropriate at the time, but now seem a bit over the top with the reverb in the wall of sound. Still, it was an important album for me and a timely vehicle for all the songs I’d been writing during the last period with The Beatles. I began recording just months after we had all finally decided to go our separate ways and I was looking forward to making the first solo album of ‘songs’ (as opposed to Wonderwall and Electronic Sound which were instrumental).”

The other, seemingly contrary virtue, is that one is able to better appreciate the artistic direction Spector took the sessions.  Harrison’s compositions were not lightweight pop ditties but deal with lofty subjects.  Whether one agrees or disagrees with his point, he was trying to express sincerely held beliefs in a rhetorical manner.  The orchestration needed to fit the message and Spector’s work looks past to the past where musical authority was expressed by the multitude of tonal color meant to express a wide range of ideas and emotions.  All music is subject to culture and style, but this is an attempt to transcend late sixties and early seventies musical mores to produce a work that is timeless.  Hearing the isolated performances greatly enhances the appreciation of the final mix, whether one agrees or disagrees with the artistic decision. 

Obtaining detailed personal for each individual track is almost impossible (if anyone knows, please send it in).  Knowing who is playing what is largely dependent upon recognition of individual style.  Eric Clapton’s contributions are very obvious with as well as the individual keyboardists Gary Wright, Bobby Whitlock, Gary Brooker and Billy Preston.  The Art Of Darkness is packaged in a standard four disc fatboy jewel case with several inserts with photos of George in his estate taken at the same time as the cover photo.  The four discs serve as an excellent compliment to the material that surfaced about ten years ago.  This title also fits into the case supplied with A Quiet Storm collecting together fourteen discs total making this the most comprehensive collection of All Things Must Pass outtakes ever gathered together into one. 

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