Philadelphia Lumberjack (Beatles Master Works BMW020 A/B)
Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA – December 17th, 1974 (matinee)
Disc 1 (39:32): Introduction (Monty Python Lumberjack Song), Hari’s On Tour (Express), While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Something, Will It Round In Circles, Sue Me Sue You Blues, introduction, Zoom Zoom Zoom, Naredahni
Disc 2 (52:26): For You Blue, the band introducing, Give Me Love, In My Life, Tom Cat, Maya Love, Dark Horse, Nothing From Nothing, Outa Space, What Is Life, My Sweet Lord
Between shows in New York at the Nassau Coliseum (December 15th) and Madison Square Garden (December 19th and 20th) George Harrison played three shows over two days at the Spectrum in Philadelphia on December 16th and 17th.
None of the Philly shows have received extensive circulation and none were pressed on either vinyl or compact disc until this tape surfaced from the matinee show on December 17th and pressed by BMW on Philadelphia Lumberjack.
While it is a bit distant, it is very listenable and captures the warmth of the performance and the enthusiasm from the audience. An added bonus is the taper actually left his recorder on for at least part of the Indian set, capturing “Zoom Zoom Zoom” and a minute of “Naredahni” before cutting out.
There is also a small, almost imperceptible cut near the end of “For You Blue” but otherwise the rock section is unaffected. BMW also mis-label the songs in the Shankar set. The introduction is tracked seperately but is labeled “Zoom Zoom Zoom.”
Another virtue of this tape besides the excellent performance is that the taper captured the “Lumberjack Song” at the very beginning. Although this was a feature at the shows there are very few tapes that have it (Seattle is the only other one I can think of).
Harrison at the time was investing in Monty Python and their first (proper) film Monty Python And The Holy Grail and playing the song over the PA was a good way to promote them.
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is the second song of the set and is the topic of comments made on a George Harrison forum. The writer of the post observes:
“The 1974 tour was not the complete disaster as some have indicated. Lt me point out the following:
1)George was very well received in Oakland, Long Beach, Tulsa, Forth Worth, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and NYC.
2)These memories really stand out, In Tulsa, Leon Russell joined him on stage doing “My Sweet Lord”. The audience responded great and was still cheering 30 minutes after the end of the show and the venue had to tell the remaining audience that George left and was not coming back. Also in Detroit (the second show), The audience was still so pumped up that after the last song, the audience was still cheering and George had to reappear to say goodbye. I
n Philadelphia, George was touched by the overwhelming reception and for the afternoon show of 12/21/74, George did a 10minute version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps that got a tremendous ovation. 3) The tour received many positive press reviews especially in the heartland and his voice-still sub par-improved alot as he reached the east USA/ 5718.”
He mentions the Philly matinee show on December 21st, but the tour ended on the 20th in New York so he is obviously referring to this show. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is excellent, but the song was expanded from the early part of the tour and routinely ran about seven to eight minutes long. The writer is correct about Harrison’s voice though. It does improve throughout the tour. This is one of the strongest vocal performances on tape.
Philadelphia Lumberjack dates from 2002 and is a great release on the now defunct BMW silver label. This is one of the Japanese silver labels from the late nineties through the first couple years of this decade to apply heavy handed mastering which produced the metallic whine in the music (especially on their Paul McCartney titles). This is free from such nonsense and is a solid release.