The Master Of Going Faster (Tarantura TCDGHEC-3, 4, 5)
Japan Tour 1991 – 5th December – Nagoya International Showcase Hall, Japan / 6th December – Hiroshima Sun Plaza, Hiroshima / 9th December – Fukuoka International Center Hall, Fukuoka
Disk One; ( 5th December, 1991 ) I Want To Tell You / Old Brown Shoe / Taxman / Give me Love ( Give Me Peace On Earth ) / If I Needed Someone / Something / What Is Life / Dark Horse / Piggies / Pretending / Old Love / Badge / Wonderful Tonight. ( 72:45 )
Disk Two; Got My Mind Set On You / Cloud Nine / Here Comes The Sun / My Sweet Lord / All Those Years Ago / Cheer Down / Devil’s Radio / Isn’t It A Pity / While My Guitar Gently Weeps ( Encore ) / Roll Over Beethoven ( Encore ) / Drum Solo / Percussion Solo / Roll Over Beethoven. ( 62:54 )
Disk Three; ( 5th December, 1991 ) I Want To Tell You / Old Brown Shoe / Taxman / Give me Love ( Give Me Peace On Earth ) / If I Needed Someone / Something / What Is Life / Dark Horse / Piggies / Pretending / Old Love / Badge / Wonderful Tonight. ( 73:04 )
Disk Four; Got My Mind Set On You / Cloud Nine / Here Comes The Sun / My Sweet Lord / All Those Years Ago / Cheer Down / Devil’s Radio / Isn’t It A Pity / While My Guitar Gently Weeps ( Encore ) / Roll Over Beethoven ( Encore ) / Drum Solo / Percussion Solo / Roll Over Beethoven. ( 61:25 )
Disk Five; ( 5th December, 1991 ) I Want To Tell You / Old Brown Shoe / Taxman / Give Me Love ( Give Me Peace On Earth ) / If I Needed Someone / Something / What Is Life / Dark Horse / Piggies / Pretending / Old Love / Badge / Wonderful Tonight. ( 73:24 )
Disk Six; Got My Mind Set On You / Cloud Nine / Here Comes The Sun / My Sweet Lord / All Those Years Ago / Cheer Down / Devil’s Radio / Isn’t It A Pity / While My Guitar Gently Weeps ( Encore ) / Roll Over Beethoven ( Encore ) / Drum Solo / Percussion Solo ( Fade Out ) ( 53:19 )
George Harrison’s final tour would take place in 1991 but rather than take himself around the world, the U.S. or even his home country he was coerced in to taking his band to Japan by his long time friend Eric Clapton. Possibly mindful of the 1974 tour where he was pilloried for the rough measure of his voice, George was reluctant at first but upon relenting he found the tour to be wonderfully satisfying – As we know George was always the first to take a sly poke at his tenure in the Beatles in his songs but plenty of time had been spent being a solo artist, a director, a gardener that George was happy to don his Fabs hat once again and play “their” songs as well as the biggest hits of his post – Beatle career.
Nearly every bootleg label seem to have had a shot at releasing at least one of George’s Japanese shows as tapes have always been readily available from one of the most technologically forward and Fab friendly countries in the world.
Tarantura have already released their own Japanese tour companion under the title “Legends In The Material World” ( TCDGHEC-1 ), a Mr. Peach tape from the 17th of December show at the Tokyo dome twined with Mr. Peach’s customary extraneous recording of the journey to the venue and his entry to the concert.
Spinalcrackerbox pointed out in the comments to the announcement to this new release; “Nagoya, Dec 5th had previously been released from source # 1 on “Fourth Night Live” on Platypus Records (PR-1001 A/B) and “4th Night Revisited” (no label). A more recent release, “One Moment In Time II (Misterclaudel mccd-22/23)” used two additional sources to present the complete show as the first one had run out in the middle of “Devil’s Radio”. The best source for Hiroshima 12/5 was “Old Friends, Old Love (Tricone 045/046)”, which used the master tape out previously in inferior “fuzzy” quality on “Live In Peace (Front Page FP-0040020/1)”. Fukuoka 12/09 had been out on “Rock Legends In Fukuoka (Masterport 017) CD-R””.
Unfortunately I’ve been unable to compare these recordings against this new Tarantura set but prior to receiving this set TFA1973 also reported on that announcement page saying “This set too much equalized for old cassette recordings. each shows are very rare but not too good sound (especially Fukuoka) with that treatment. terrible quality and not recommended.”
The comments puzzled me as most of the Tarantura releases I’d heard were, frankly, great. The label were surely attentive enough not to present to us a poorly laid out, shoddily disguised recording especially when such a standard had been afforded to them.
Upon listening to the first set, you may find yourself agreeing with TFA1973’s comments – the tape used is a little muffled with a couple of minor flubs running through the first track. At the quieter moments there is a little hiss upon the tape. It’s not off putting though as there are very few quiet moments. One of it’s saving graces is that before the beginning of each track the sound gets a little brighter and, because this was the early 1990’s, the sound in the venue wasn’t turned up to blistering an so there’s a nice, clear sound that picks up just about everything. We begin just as “I Want To Tell You” is sparking up. The audience are obviously pleased to see George and Eric there but while we tend to think of Japanese audiences as quiet and reserved, tonight they’re specifically happy to be in attendance, enthusiastically clapping through the first beat, George’s voice, while hardly the force of nature of his contemporaries scale sounds miles better than the rough strains of around 15 years earlier on his ‘Dark Hoarse’ tour. The extra layers of guitar work put in by Eric Clapton lift the songs even further – the fact that they’re mostly played a step faster than the originals helps too – and, well, it goes without saying that the band are exemplary too. One of the first things that strike the ears are the basslines of Nathan East – obviously most of these were McCartney pieces first but Nathan’s fluid playing hits the spot perfectly. Steve Ferrone’s drumming is, as standard for live shows, brilliantly busy and both Katie Kissoon’s and Tessa Niles’ backing harmonies are the perfect twist to the layering on the songs. The great “double solo” within the song is a real treat too – short lived it may be – but it does at least give a great taster for the exemplary extended ending.
George greets the audience in Japanese before a thrilling “Old Brown Shoe”. Uncovered by the Beatles or George before these concerts it’s appearance should rightly send shock waves around the venue as George and the band tear through one of his best and most electric love songs. Once again it’s the coda that sends things through the roof and things heat up on stage as the ending extends itself beautifully.
“Taxman” is changed lyrics aplenty as George brings the track bang up to the 90’s by having the backing singers mention the then British Prime-Minister John Major, George Bush ( Senior ) and Boris Yeltsin among others as that seasons prime predators for your hard earned money.
The first solo track “Give Me Love” is very enthusiastically appreciated as the audience applaud wildly as they recognise the first opening chords but stay respectfully quiet throughout the remainder of the song. This song is given no further embellishment than normal but, on the sound of the applause, neither does it need it. Another Beatle track is given thrust as “If I Needed Someone” is given a prime solo in the middle of it all.
George’s most successful song, and rightfully so, is pushed out maybe a little earlier in the set than it should be but it’s always great to hear it live as he gets behind it whole heartedly ( He wrote the song way back when and for someone who was stolen away from him by his best friend but the sentiment is still just as strong. ) and he puts his voice purposefully behind the lyrics.
“What Is Life” follows and, in a slight moment where the tape really comes in to it’s own, someone close to the taper gasps, making a noise like George has just descended from the heavens and offered to pay the mans mortgage for him.
A slice of nostalgia in a different way next as “Dark Horse” is played the way it was during the 1974 U.S. tour but the added bonus is that George isn’t flu-bound this time and manages to bound through without trouble.
A loose moment comes as George introduces “Piggies”, firstly trying out a little broken Japanese – “Domo regata .. regato!” before introducing the song as being from “Beatle White Album”. The equivalent of not speaking the language but speaking louder to put your point across. “Piggies” always seemed like filler to me and, to this extent, doesn’t change my mind as it still feels like an empty attribution to the show.
Thankfully though the Eric Clapton portion of the show swings in to cover over the memories of what we’ve just heard and begins with an extended riff on the jazzy, bar room intro for “Pretending” – one of Clapton’s late 80’s hits. Shorn of the production of the original ( The souped up synths for one ) the song doesn’t seem to have dated half as badly as the C.V.
After a super long “Old Love” comes a ’60’s classic “Badge” – obviously built up and slightly rearranged from it’s simple beginnings this version is what “Pretending” should have been – an amalgamation of influences that place the song in the early 90’s era that ever so slightly detract from the song itself.
“Wonderful Tonight” is a paced break to the madness for the couples in the audience to get a little closer and relax to. It’s extended out to over 8 minutes with a long appearance by Katie who lays down some vocal harmonies that offset Clapton’s luxurious guitar playing.
George returns to the stage for a ‘Cloud Nine’ heavy set. “Got My Mind Set On You” George’s hugely successful reinterpretation of the James Ray / Rudy Clark song and the album’s title song “Cloud Nine” lead us in but it’s not long before we’re back to Beatle territory.
With a charming ‘Turned out nice again ..’ – a quote from George Formby which falls on deaf ears – George treats us to a magnificent, acoustic take on “Here Comes The Sun” quickly followed by another acoustic “My Sweet Lord” that begins sparsely before building in tiers like a cake towards a surprisingly un-extravagant ending – not the full blown religious bluster that the song made when George was in his religious pomp.
“All Those Years Ago”, “Cheer Down” and “Devils Radio” lead us through the last of the promotional section of the show. The tape slips in quality just before “Devils Radio” and so turns it in to a muddy, mushy rendition where the band could make a few mistakes but you couldn’t really tell – George’s voice is the clearest thing to be heard.
To finish the main part of the show George plays one last ‘All Things Must Pass’ track – “Isn’t It A Pity”. A serene and heartfelt rendition with some wonderful guitar playing but by this time the tape has deteriorated to an almost unlistenable fuzz and the opportunity is sadly missed.
Two songs are played for the encore – George and Eric’s best known collaboration “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and Beatles live favorite “Roll Over Beethoven”, a little bit of nostalgia and a chance for the band to rip it up on someone else’s composition.
Wordlessly “While My Guitar .. ” strikes up, a slow burning, wailing epic of a tune that features the guitar maestros trading increasingly wrought solos between themselves. It reaches a fantastical 7 minutes before simmering to a close.
“Roll Over Beethoven” is one of the best ways to end the night for the group as they trounce the original with a massively over-egged rendition – the only downside of which is the inclusion of Ferrone’s and Ray Cooper’s drumming solo – this may just be a personal bug-bear but they’ve never worked for me and to drop it in to the middle of this rock and roll classic seems like sacrilege. The song ends on a cataclysmic thrash with all instruments flailing away towards a triumphal ending.
The tape continues for a couple of minutes to the sound of a Japanese audience going wild and sending off the band in to the night with a rousing thunder of applause.
As the set list didn’t differ between the nights in Japan there’s not much to report on the differences between each night so we’ll just consider the sound and ambiance from the following two nights;
Hiroshima Sun Plaza on the 6th of December is a much clearer recording than the Nagoya tape, sounding more like it was recorded from a television broadcast, though maybe a little thinner sounding and it shuffles somewhat at the high end but it’s something that can be cleared with a little eq-ing it also suffers a little with the tape problems that cut through the first nights first track. George seems a little chattier than last night too, speaking more between each song ( maybe he’d had a good nights sleep ), playing up his humorous and self depreciating side and through that he also seems a little happier. The music certainly doesn’t suffer from this and the guitar work is fantastic again tonight.
Fukuoka International Center Hall on the 9th of December is back to that slightly muffled sound again, closer to the first night than the second but without the tremble that ran through the sound of the second night.
George is a little quieter tonight but lives up to the Beatles memory standard by stating that he thought “Taxman” was included on the Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” album but after one of the audience members heckles with the cry of “Come on George, play something new!” sticks solidly to the set list in hand ( At that time maybe that attendee had a point but knowing what we now know then he’ll just be happy he was there. )
Even eric seems to have copped some of that magic tonight as he fairly tears through “Badge”, really getting his anger to build and getting forceful when singing. A brutal solo pushes it on home.
The packaging for this CD is wonderful. The clamshell box features some perfect pictures of George on stage, mainly while taking the applause but a couple of action shots are included on the 4 page sheet inside that includes each nights set list along other Hari related photos from throughout his career. The top of the box features a space for the limited number ( Of 150 ) to be rubber stamped. Even the disks themselves are silk screen printed with different images of George on stage and, in turn, these come within strong laminated CD sleeves.
This presents a tough choice in recommending the set – the packaging is beautiful, the shows themselves are rare enough to leap for but the quality isn’t the best from the great tapes Tarantura has been known to use.
Knowing that these CDs have already been copied by other manufacturers I’d suggest that if you were to purchase these CDs I’d stick with the original pressings but they are still recommended for the long standing Beatle fan rather than the casual follower who might be better trying to find the few soundboards that remain from this tour.