Wednesday, May 6, 2009

George Harrison - Blow Away

(Dark Horse, 1979)

While a big improvement on the terrible Thirty-Three and 1/3, George Harrison’s self-titled LP is overly polished, gentle, and, well, adult. Everything is mid-tempo mush, and there’s a sleek, soft-rock sheen that doesn’t do Harrison any favors, especially as it deemphasizes his electric guitar for much of the album. The good news? He’s ditched the saxes this time around, and he’s actually managed to crank out a few decent songs in between his rich-guy trips to Hawaii and the Formula One racetrack. A-side “Blow Away” is among the best of the bunch (running neck and neck with “Faster”), with a boppy little melody and an almost idiotically cheerful chorus that sees George as carefree and positive as on any other single in his discography. Even Paul McCartney, the master of brain-pleasing songfluff, would have been proud to release such a perfectly-formed, lightweight treat (“Blow Away” would in fact fit quite well on Wings at the Speed of Sound, although it would easily tower above the rest of the material on there). And wait! Is that a xylophone I hear plinking deep within the mix? I THINK IT IS!! A xylophone on a George Harrison track?! How whimsical and unlikely; you’ve really loosened up in your permed middle-age, George! A minor single and a minor hit, but a very pleasing one nonetheless.

“Soft-Hearted Hana,” which is also taken from the LP, is a shuffling, pub-ready rooty-toot loosely based on earlier B-side “Deep Blue,” but rather than the grim subject matter of old, George has gone with zany mushroom-inspired lyrics for this effort. As throwaways go, it’s acceptable, though the B-side of this 7” was probably a more appropriate home for it than on the album proper.

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