Nassau Coliseum 1974 Off Master
(Idol Mind IMP-N-027/028)
George Harrison’s tour of the US had a grande finale on the east coast. In the final week he played two shows at the Nassau Coliseum, three shows over two nights in Philadelphia and three shows over two nights at Madison Square Garden. The two Nassau County shows have been released several times before on vinyl and silver disc. The most popular title Nassau 1974 (Undercover UC-009-1/2/3) came out several years ago featuring both shows sourced from the most complete versions of the tapes then available.
Nassau Coliseum 1974 Off Master on Idol Mind features the same tapes used on the Undercover release but from the master cassettes. They not only sound much better, but are for the first time complete and make the older releases inconsequential.
Despite being at the end of a long tour with the strain on his vocals apparent, these shows are very entertaining. Mark Lapidos, who that same year founded what is now known as The Fest For Beatlefans, caught several of Harrison’s 1974 New York shows and said that the press were too harsh on Harrison: “You know, after a while the headlines take over; Dark Hoarse, H-O-A-R-S-E, the Dark Hoarse Tour as it became known as. I don’t think that the people were bothered by his voice. I noticed that it was a little bit off. My objection (laughs) was when he did ‘In My Life’ (and) he changed the words. I would have rathered him not to, but he was religious and that was his thing.”
This is not only the definitive release of these shows, but one of the better titles to have come out from this part of the tour.
Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY – December 15th, 1974, early show
Disc 1: (69:50): Hari’s On Tour (Express), While My Guitar Gently Smile, Something, Going Around In Circles, Sue Me Sue You Blues, Introducing Indian set, Zoon Zoon Zoon, Naderdani, Anurag, Indian band introduction, I Am Missing You, MC for Appalachian Regional Hospital, Dispute And Violence
Disc 2 (56:02): Stage preparation for next set, For You Blue, rock band introduction, Give Me Love, In My Life, Tom Cat, Maya Love, Dark Horse, Nothing For Nothing, Outta Space, What Is Life, My Sweet Lord
The sound quality begins rough but clear up quickly and is a startling upgrade over Undercover. It is also more complete, containing the Indian set and “Tom Cat.” There is a feeling of being rushed early on in the show. The opening numbers, “Hari’s On Tour (Express),” “While My Guitar Gently Smile,” and the others zip by with very little of Harrison’s elaboration.
The Indian orchestra proceeds to play “Zoon, Zoon, Zoon,” “Na Na Dahni,” “Cheparte,” “Anurag,” “I Am Missing You,” and “Dispute and Violence.” Before the final number of the set Harrison speaks about the charity they are supporting and exhorts everyone to give.
After the cut there is a long version of “For You Blue” in which Willie Weeks and others take solos. The rest of the band is introduced before gorgeous version of “Give Me Love.” After a small cut in the tape Harrison is speaking about old friends and John Lennon as an introduction to his new arrangement of “In My Life” with the “in my life – I’ve loved God more” confession. “Thank God for Billy Preston” in my life he says before Preston plays a church organ solo.
“Maya Love” is a daring track played live and sounds magnificent in this recording. Billy Preston has his energetic two song set playing “Nothing For Nothing” and “Outta Space.”
“What Is Life” is the set closer and they come back out onstage for the long “My Sweet Lord” encore. This is an arrangement which replaces the slide guitar with the horn section and includes several interludes where Harrison goes into ecstatic “hare Krishna.”
He even asks “are there any Christians? Try this: Oh, Christ, etc” to the befuddlement of the audience.
Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY – December 15th, 1974, late show
Disc 3 (69:59): Opening SE, Hari’s On Tour (Express), While My Guitar Gently Smile, Something, Going Around In Circles, Sue Me Sue You Blues, MC for introducing Indian set, Zoon Zoon Zoon, Naderdani, Anurag, Indian band introduction, I Am Missing You, MC for Appalachian Regional Hospital, Dispute And Violence
Disc 4 (59:06): For You Blue, rock band introduction, Give Me Love, Soundstage Of Mind, In My Life, Tom Cat, Maya Love, Dark Horse, Nothing For Nothing, Outta Space, What Is Life, My Sweet Lord
The evening show is a clear recording but a bit more distant from the stage than the afternoon show. It still however is pleasant to listen to. This tape first surfaced on the old vinyl Last Live Concert 74 (White Horse WH 1974), a two LP set with the entire rock portion of the show. It also was used on discs three and four of the Undercover collection.
The upgrade in sound quality is even more dramatic than the afternoon show. It is a nice sharp and clear mono tape of the entire concert. The strange whistle is gone, and the entire Indian set is present.
With the afternoon show behind them and with John Lennon in the audience, Harrison and band deliver a much tighter and livelier show before a very quiet crowd. “For You Blue” is again expanded and Weeks plays a very nasty, harsh sounding bass during his little solo. Harrison introduces the rest of the band including the horn section, “you name it, they blow it” he jokes.
“Give Me Love” sounds very nice with the flute very high up in the mix. Afterwards Harrison says: “We’d like to do a tune we sometimes do…it’s just a boogie woogie called ‘Soundstage Of The Mind.'” This is simply a four minute instrumental he dedicates to Nassau in the beginning.
Before “In My Life” Harrison asks “is there anybody out there? I’d like to do a song written by an old friend and a new friend. You all allow him to come and stay here.” It’s interesting to speculate if he’s referring to John Lennon. The instrumental “Tom Cat” returns to the set and is followed by two songs from the new album, “Maya Love” and “Dark Horse.” Preston’s two song set follows and the show ends with “What Is Life?”
The encore is “My Sweet Lord” with the expected ecstatic utterances.
Nassau Coliseum 1974 Off Master is packaged in a quad jewel case with an obi strip. The actual discs are given a faux-vinyl appearance as well. This is a major release on Idol Mind that every Beatles / Harrison collector has to have.