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This album brims with the simple magic of Bob Dylan, the Everly Brothers, and Donovan.
It’s perfect for puttering around the house on a sunny Sunday morning.
Early Takes Volume 1 would make a fine soundtrack to a Wes Anderson movie like The Darjeeling Limited or Moonrise Kingdom.
While the Beatles’ legacy is pretty much settled for most music lovers, some still argue about which member was the best. While The Early Takes Volume 1 likely won’t move those needles, it is essential for fans of the late singer/guitarist. Initially released as a companion piece to Martin Scorsese’s archive-mining documentary Living in the Material World, the archival set presents an intimate portrait of Harrison’s pure talents. The stripped-down nature of the demos and outtakes contained herein highlight the depth and range of the Quiet Beatle’s charismatic voice and tasteful guitar playing—as well as the allure of a simply delivered song sung by someone who truly believes in the lyrics.
All but two of the tracks here draw from three of Harrison’s 70s solo albums. A number of the demos from All Things Must Pass give credence to those who believe producer Phil Spector’s imprint on Harrison’s music was too heavy-handed. On “Run of the Mill” and “Behind That Locked Door” in particular, Harrison’s voice sounds liberated, allowing surprising nuances and hidden treasures to emerge from the songs’ finely crafted structures. For listeners who prefer Spector’s wall of sound, tracks like “My Sweet Lord” demonstrate how a producer can elevate an artist’s work. By extension, Harrison’s treatment of the Everly Brothers classic “Let It Be Me” reveals how he could turn prior influences into something uniquely his own.
The warmth of this collection comes courtesy of producer Giles Martin as the record reflects his consummate ability to restore original analog recordings (see his work on the 50th anniversary remaster of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). Mastering duties are handled by Steve Rooke at Abbey Road Studios, and the disc yields the kind of dynamics you hear on the very best vinyl from the early 70s. While relatively quiet, my pressing had a too-small spindle hole and scuff marks that indicate rushed production at the end of the stamping phase. One also wishes the producers would have provided more background information about each recording given the material’s historical importance.
Last chance to change your mind...