George Harrison – Ice Cold In Toronto (Premium Masters PM01)

Ice Cold In Toronto (Premium Masters PM01)

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, ON, Canada – December 6th, 1974 (early show)

Hari’s On Tour, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Something, Will It Go Round In Circles, Sue Me Sue You Blues, For You Blue, member introduction, Give Me Love, In My Life, Tom Cat, Maya Love, Dark Horse, Nothing From Nothing, Outa-Space, What Is Life, My Sweet Lord

During 1974 there were several high level reunion and comeback tours of North America. The earliest, during January and February, was Bob Dylan’s reunion with The Band and his first tour in eight years. The summer months saw both Eric Clapton and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young touring for the first time in four years. But the most anticipated was George Harrison’s tour at the end of the year. It was his first since the 1966 tour with the Beatles and lasted almost two months with forty-five shows in twenty-six cities beginning in Vancouver and ending at Madison Square Garden in New York. There was a tremendous amount of excitement surrounding it, but the results were very strange and Harrison received mixed reviews.

Although it was exciting to see a Beatle in the flesh, he brought along a massive backing band and his friend Ravi Shankar, who played an extended set in the middle of Harrison’s. Even then, in the hour and a half long set much time is devoted to Billy Preston and improvisations by the backing band. Also, although several Beatle songs were included, they were played in slightly different arrangements. But perhaps most strange is that the tour proceeded even though Harrison’s voice was very hoarse and he had difficulty singing. Many artists might have considered postponing the tour and on the one hand Harrison deserves some credit for being a trouper, the execution was difficult to stomach on occasion. He was also promoting his new album Dark Horse on his new label, and the new material was hard to decipher the way they were sung.

Ice Cold In Toronto is the first release on the new Premium Masters label. The Toronto afternoon show was released before in a three disc set with the evening show on Toronto 1974 (Undercover UC-008-1/2/3). This is the second silver release of the afternoon show and the new label use the same tape source that might be closer to the master tape than used by Undercover. It is a good to very good sounding audience recording that has the same quality as the Dylan tape made at the same venue earlier in the year (so perhaps it is the same taper). There are several minor cuts between songs but the songs included on the tape are all complete. Undercover is missing the first Billy Preston song “Will It Go Round In Circles?”, and has only the spoken introductions for “Tom Cat” and “Outa-Space.” Premium Masters contains the three Billy Preston songs in their entirely and the whole “Tom Cat.”

What is missing from both releases is the Ravi Shankar section of the show “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom,” “Naderdani,” “Vachaspati,” “Anourag,” “I Am Missing You,” and “Dispute And Violence.” The taper doesn’t like Indian music and turns off his recorder. The new release also sounds brighter and contains virtually no hiss at all making it clearer. The tape begins with a quick fade in right before the band begins the opening instrumental “Hari’s On Tour.” Harrison shouts “good morning” at the beginning. This is followed by “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” which sounds pretty good. “Something” sounds a bit strange since Harrison literally shouts the lyrics of what is supposed to be s tender love song. Billy Preston is introduced for the first of his three songs “Will It Go Round In Circles.” “Sue Me, Sue You Blues” is introduced as something from Living In The Material World. This version is good with the slide guitar and the horn section emphasizing the rhythm.

Afterwards Harrison introduces the Indian section of the show by saying, “We’ll like to bring out another sixteen and make the band a little bit bigger. For your entertainment!” The audience responds with loud boos which is unfortunate because some collectors believe this is the highlight of the show. After the cut the band picks up with the third Beatle song “For You Blue.” This version is extended to five minutes with a guitar solo followed by a chimes-percussion solo and a bass slot by Willie Weeks. “Give Me Love, Give Me Peace On Earth” is played very closely to the original studio version, but is followed by the fourth Beatles song of the afternoon “In My Life.” Harrison introduces the song by saying, “We’d like to do a song written by a friend to us all.” The tempo of this version is much slower than the original with an emphasis upon the horn section.

Harrison changes the words “in my life / I’ve loved them all” to “in my life / I loved God more.” At the end he thanks “John, Paul, George and Ringo and all of the ex-ex-exes.” Afterwards he introduces the new single by Tommy Scott before the band play the instrumental “Tom Cat.” It is a nice little jazz number. Harrison then plugs the new album and plays “Maya Love” and the title track before Billy Preston’s two-song set. The afternoon ends with “What Is Life” and “My Sweet Lord” is the encore. Ice Cold In Toronto is a good debut for this new silver label. The sound quality and completeness makes this superior to the version of this tape on Undercover. Nobody is quite sure if Premium Masters is related to any current label, but the artwork suggests a relation to the Badgeholders label who came out with some Zeppelin titles several years ago.

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