George Harrison – Running On A Dark Course (Beatles Master Works BMW-28A/B)

Running On A Dark Course (Beatles Master Works BMW-28A/B)

Hofheinz Pavilion, Houston, TX – November 24th, 1974 (evening show)

Disc 1 (41:19):  Hari’s On Tour (Express), While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Something, Will It ‘Round In Circles, Sue Me Sue You Blues, For You Blue, Give Me Love, Soundstage Of My Mind

Disc 2 (42:43):  In My Life, Tom Cat, Maya Love, Dark Horse, Nothing From Nothing, Outa-Space, What Is Life, My Sweet Lord

George Harrison played three shows in Texas in the middle of the tour in 1974.  Cassettes for the two Houston shows on November 24th are a relatively recent find, surfacing in the nineties.  Both of the shows were circulated by the fan-produced Green Grape label, but only the evening show has been pressed on Running On A Dark Course.  The afternoon show is extremely fragmented, especially the first half of the show. 

But the evening show is complete except for the Shankar set.  It sounds merely fair with an emphasis upon the upper frequencies.  It’s a thin sounding document of the show and not nearly as good as the best sounding tapes from the era like Baton Rouge or Seattle.

Monty Python’s “Lumberjack Song” is cut off of the beginning of the show, so it cuts in during “Hari’s On Tour (Express)” and Harrison’s greeting “Houston, take two!” 

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is very tight and energetic in this performance.  Besides the novelty of singing about his guitar gently smiling instead of weeping, it is such a dramatic and heavy song to be playing so early in the set.  Later in the tour it would be moved to the second half and when he toured again almost twenty years later it was rightly assigned to be the show closer. 

Despite Harrison’s worsening vocals, the band sound much more tight and rehearsed than they did three weeks earlier in Seattle.  Harrison also is much more confident in speaking to the audience, leading them through the long and challenging music that lay ahead. 

“Sue Me, Sue You Blues,” the last song of the opening set, is sung with a slightly “drunken” feel in the vocals, sounding very angry and hurt.

Although nothing from Shankar’s set is found on tape, the audience’s reaction is audible as Harrison encourages them to buy programs for the Appalachian hospitals.  The very long “For You Blue” again has solo spots for the musicians on stage.  Emil Richards tries hard to turn the xylophone into a rock instrument and Willie Weeks stumbles a bit in his bass solo, causing a slight delay before he starts.

Harrison gives a plug to Tom Scott’s latest album before “Tom Cat” and give a “cheap plug” for his new album Dark Horse before singing “Maya Love.”

Billy Preston is introduced as “William Everett Preston” for his two song set and between “Nothing For Nothing” and “Outa-Space” Preston yells how it’s nice to be back home (he was born in Houston and raised in Los Angeles).  “Good vibes, good vibes…” is the response. 

The show ends with a very effective version of “What Is Life” and the long, spirit infused version of “My Sweet Lord” with Harrison telling the audience that the Lord has many different names.  The audience suffers the preaching since it’s the end of the long show. 

Running On A Dark Course came out in 2003 when BMW were releasing a slew of 1974 tapes including Canadian Express (BMW008 A/B) with the December 6th Toronto evening show, Good Evening Providence (BMW 012-A/B) with the December 11th Providence show, Philadelphia Lumberjack (BMW 020A/B) covering the December 17th Philadelphia show, First Live Show North American Tour 1974 (BMW-025) and Expressed New York (BMW 022-A/B).  Some of these have very questionable sound quality, but Houston is a decent sounding document from the era. 

BMW has very tasteful packaging and art design for the inserts including pictures from the actual tour (and not 1971 Bangla Desh concert pictures as other labels have done).  They might have improved this release by issuing it as a four disc set with the afternoon show too, but releasing the evening show along makes sense because it is the better of the two.

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