Long Beach 1974 (Undercover UC – 010)
Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, CA – November 10th, 1974
Hari’s On Tour / While My Guitar Gently Weeps / Something / Sue Me, Sue You Blues / For You Blue / Give Me Love / In My Life / Maya Love / Nothing From Nothing / My Sweet Lord / Interview 1 / Interview 2 / Interview 3
George’s 1974 has been well documented in the past. Right from the early days of the first vinyl Beatlegs labels have fought between themselves to release as much as possible from this tour. Historically the tour is worth a mention as it’s one of only two solo tours that the reclusive Beatle would perform. 1969 appearances were contained to the Delany & Bonnie tour & later appearances were scarce to say the least. Undercover ran through their short lived existence with a clutch of Harrison releases from this tour. ‘Long Beach 1974’ though is a vinyl rip from an earlier boot ( Possibly the Phonygraph LP ‘Let’s hear one for lord Budda’).
A discrepancy that Undercover neglected to polish over leaving in various crackles & audio artifacts along with the gaps between the songs that the taper saw fit to include or that the bootlegger put in at the mastering stage. The one thing that the show does benefit from though is that this is a superb performance & would be one of the best of the tour. No lack – luster squeaking from George’s voice ( although it does show severe signs of creaking towards the end ) or bad sportsmanship tonight but plenty of crazy guitar work from George & his band.
Lets not forget he had a formidable team surrounding him – Consisting of Billy Preston, Tom Scott, Chuck Findley, Robben Ford, Andy Newmark, Willie Weeks & Emil Richards – A veritable power-board of characters from America’s musical collective. The show also usually featured two long indian music segments in the form of Ravi Shankar & his collective of musicians. Evidently mindful of the fact that most fans would be buying this set for George alone Phonygraph, and later on Undercover, would leave these segments out rather than try resubmit this for the sake of completeness.
The recording starts a little way in to “Hari’s On Tour ( Express )” the instrumental track that would introduce the band to the stage while George customary welcomed the audience to the venue. It doesn’t really have much more detail other than the frantic drumming of Andy Newmark “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a much bulkier version than the original featuring meaty soloing by Robben Ford & the sweeping organ playing of Billy Preston.
Harrison, obviously tired of wanting to play up the part of “Beatle George” changes around the lyrics for his own amusement & to show to the crowd that he’s having a good time by changing them to “While My Guitar Tries To Smile.” It was obviously a want of his own to spin things around but it is a little disconcerting to hear the words to one of Rock’s most famous songs being given a change around. Just prior to “Something” one of the audience members is having a little trouble seeing the stage over the view of someone who is obviously standing to catch a better view of the collective on stage & strangely shouts out “Get down you slug!” causing one of the more humorous moments of the evening.
The song itself is augmented this time by Tom Scott’s achingly good sax presentation. It changes the whole feel of the track from a quieter paean to his beloved to a full-throated testament to his aching heart. Harrison had split from his first wife only 5 months earlier after a crumbling relationship moved her in to the arms of one of George’s best friends Eric Clapton. The altogether more biting “Sue Me, Sue You Blues” appears next. A crazed rendition of the “Living In The Material World” track that finds Harrison battling with Willie Weeks’ thunderous bass lines, the squelchy keyboard work of Billy’s & the immense power of the horns. He still sounds angry against the band that broke him & then broke up over the petty financial matters that plagued them at the end but puts in a spirited performance despite the rawness of his voice.
“For You Blue” gives the rest of the band a real chance to shine as George gives them all the chance of a solo over Newmark’s & Weeks’ percussion during the central section of the song while also managing to give them a link via lyrics ( ‘here is some one who is sweet & lovely too .. ‘ ) Emil Richard’s strange church bells romp is funny to hear as they don’t really get a look in all night but George generously calls him in for an extended section.
“In My Life” is maybe George’s answer to Frank Sinatra’s mention that “Something” was his ‘favourite Lennon & McCartney song’ – While McCartney was resolutely playing solo McCartney & Wings tracks, John was making a nuisance of himself & Ringo was setting out in the hinterlands of a drink addiction & splitting from EMI, George was grabbing back his Beatles tracks & others while changing around the lyrics for his own purpose. Again, like most of the other songs performed tonight it features a tougher shell than the original – glistening guitar lines, heavy drumming & wild organ playing. Towards Billy’s organ solo, George also appropriates the pay off line “In My life .. I loved God more” confusing his devotees further.
Harrison then introduces us to ‘A simple little ditty’ from the Dark Horse album “Maya Love” – A track that is, if not boastfully so, cosmically conscious. For everyone that knocks the album then they must forget that this track exists. Sure, it may not be one of the strongest tracks in George’s cannon but it is bountiful to pique an interest while the work that features here drops it superbly in to the rest of the track list. One of Billy Preston’s tracks is also included – “Nothing From Nothing” was from his album ‘The Kids And Me’ & is around as simplistic as George’s “Maya Love” for it’s lyrical content & features various nursery rhyme sounding flourishes before, between & at the end of the track.
The Concert ends with an extended & gushy “My Sweet Lord” which is heavier on the religious bent than the commercial version & wouldn’t be out of place being sang in an African American service in church such is it’s hands aloft, giddying, joyfulness. The track features George dueting with Billy Preston for the most part & entering the coda asking people to chat along to the “Hallelujah” refrain while George shouts the names of varied deities.
Despite mention of the tour & its messages not being well received then the participant audience seem to be lapping it up & clap & holler along with the attended group. The disk is rounded up with a three part radio interview between George & Levi Booker of KLOL. Personally I find era interviews interesting but not each collector really has to collect the minute details of the Fab’s chatter so to this end the chatter is inessential.
The packaging of the CD is straight forward featuring a small live photo of George that takes up a quarter of the front cover while Harrison’s name, the title & the date appear in clear fonts underneath. This is a concept that appears on the back too. It may not be over produced but it does look good & simple. With the profligacy of the Harrison ’74 tour in bootleg circles being so wide & so with a lack of quality control ( Unless any soundboards actually turn up ), this abbreviated concert, vinyl crackles notwithstanding, is actually one of the better & affordable choices you could make to add to your collection.